Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are much finer than needles used for injections and blood tests. Needle insertion is generally painless, and once in you may experience something that is called the ‘Qi sensation’ (De Qi). This sensation varies from person to person and is often described as a tingling, dull, heavy, numb, warm or achy sensation. Patients often describe having treatment as a pleasant, calming and relaxing experience.

Is acupuncture safe?

All members of The British Acupuncture Council must observe the Code of Safe Practice that sets out specific guidelines for hygiene and safety standards, and is approved by the Department of Health. Only single-use, sterile, disposable needles are used. Needles are individually wrapped and opened in front of you immediately before use.

How many treatments will I need?

The frequency and number of treatments required will vary depending on :

  • Your general state of health
  • The condition, the severity and the duration of the condition
  • The individual

No two people are the same and it is one of the strengths of acupuncture that each person is treated as an individdual to achieve the best results. Some people feel a marked improvement in their main symptoms straight away, while others may experience a more cumulative effect. Long-standing conditions may need a longer course of treatment, whereas a relatively new condition may only need a few sessions. It is usual to attend for treatment once or twice a week initially, and then attend fortnightly or monthly as your health improves. Some people choose to continue having acupuncture at intervals after their course of treatment as a preventative measure and to strengthen their constitution.

Will I need to get undressed?

Commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower limbs of the legs and arms. Points on your abdomen or back may also be used. You may find it more convenient to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing when coming for your treatment. Points needled elsewhere will always be explained to you beforehand and only used with your consent. Towels are provided to maintain modesty at all times. Importance lies in the patient feeling comfortable and relaxed in the treatment room, thus allowing the treatment to be as effective as possible.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

As demand for complementary medicine increases and its beneficial effects become more widely recognised, more and more private health insurance companies are offering cover for acupuncture. If you have private health insurance, you may already be covered to have acupuncture treatments.

Many insurers approve treatment by British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) members. Policy details vary and although some private health insurance companies require a signed referral to the acupuncturist from either a GP or a consultant, there are many policies that do not require referrals. Please click here for a list of private health insurers who cover acupuncture with a BAcC member.

Should my doctor know?

It is recommended that you inform your doctor if you are planning to have acupuncture treatment especially if you have been prescribed medication. Do not stop taking your medication. It is useful to let your acupuncturist know the details of any medication you are taking in case it may cause side-effects or affect your response to acupuncture treatment.