How Do You Know If Acupuncture Is Working? Essential Tips

How Do You Know If Acupuncture Is Working? Tips To Check

How Do You Know If Acupuncture Is Working? Tips To Check

Acupuncture, a time-honoured Chinese healing technique, uses fine needles to activate the body’s energy pathways and foster healing. It is important to prepare for an acupuncture appointment by arriving well-hydrated and avoiding stimulants. Despite some scepticism, it has become a popular natural option alongside conventional medicine. Finding a qualified acupuncture practitioner is crucial for safe and effective treatment. This blog will explore the acupuncture method, session expectations, and its effects on the human body. Plus, we’ll discuss how to notice the changes it brings about and assess its success. Whether you’re new to acupuncture or already undergoing treatment, this is your guide to understanding its benefits.

Understanding Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a key element of traditional Chinese medicine, aims to enhance the flow of qi, the body’s energy. Through the insertion of thin acupuncture needles, typically made of stainless steel and varying in length and diameter, at specific points on the body, practitioners strive to alleviate pain, emotional stress, and various conditions. Acupuncture practitioners believe in balancing the flow of energy or life force through the insertion of needles into specific points along meridians in the body. This modality has benefited many individuals seeking pain relief and emotional well-being, bridging the benefits of Chinese medicine treatments with those of Western medicine.

The History of Traditional Chinese Acupunctureacupuncture originates from traditional chinese medicine and is built on the belief in meridians, which are thought to be pathways that carry the body's life force.

Acupuncture originates from traditional Chinese medicine and is built on the belief in meridians, which are thought to be pathways that carry the body's life force. This healing method has been around for thousands of years and is a fundamental part of Chinese medical practices, known for treating various health issues. Unlike Western medicine, which often focuses on treating specific symptoms, acupuncture takes a holistic approach. It looks at the whole person, aiming to restore balance and trigger the body's natural ability to heal itself. Recognized as a form of evidence-based alternative medicine, acupuncture has gained respect for its proven effectiveness in utilizing the body's energy flow, known as Qi or "chee." It remains a popular, time-honoured therapeutic technique among traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.

The Science Behind AcupunctureThe Science Behind Acupuncture

Contemporary scientific studies explain that acupuncture’s effects on the body extend to releasing certain brain and central nervous system chemicals and enhancing blood circulation. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the fascia, a type of connective tissue that wraps around every muscle and organ in the body. When fine needles are inserted into designated acupuncture points, they are believed to stimulate the body’s qi. This stimulation can prompt the release of natural painkillers and neurotransmitters in the brain, alleviating pain and promoting a sense of well-being. Additionally, the practice is thought to improve blood flow, which aids in healing and efficiently delivers nutrients and oxygen to various body parts. This understanding bridges traditional Chinese medicinal practices with modern health concepts, illustrating how acupuncture taps into the body’s own healing mechanisms.

Decoding the Acupuncture Process

In the realm of acupuncture treatments, there are primarily two practised techniques: holistic Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture and the more localized dry needling. TCM acupuncture involves inserting needles into a network of points to balance the body’s energy, aiming to address the root causes of health conditions. In contrast, dry needling alleviates specific muscular pain, such as myofascial pain, by targeting trigger points. 

While dry needling originates in TCM principles, it is generally targeted at immediate pain relief rather than long-term health solutions. Another type of acupuncture, known as ear acupuncture, involves stimulating specific ear points to relieve chronic pain and other health conditions.

This distinction is significant because some individuals may not find the lasting relief or improvement they seek with dry needling, leading to scepticism about acupuncture’s effectiveness. Their experience with dry needling, which doesn’t tackle the core issue, may shape their perception of acupuncture as a whole, not realizing the comprehensive approach TCM acupuncture offers.

Preparing for Your First Acupuncture Session

To ensure a successful first acupuncture treatment, start by clearly communicating with your acupuncturist about your health concerns and the main areas that need attention, such as chronic pain, stress, or specific ailments like migraines or digestive issues. It is important to check with your insurance provider before receiving acupuncture treatments to understand coverage. Full disclosure of your health history, including any medications like blood thinners, is essential for your acupuncturist to provide safe and effective care.

What does acupuncture feel like?What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

Acupuncture feels different for everyone, but it's usually painless. You might feel a slight prick or pressure when the thin sterile needles are gently inserted. Some people also experience warmth, tingling, or heaviness during treatment and feel deeply relaxed. Remember to communicate with your acupuncturist about any discomfort or sensations you have.

How do you know if acupuncture is working? Signs Acupuncture is working

After an acupuncture treatment, immediate effects like pain reduction, increased calmness, or a feeling of renewed energy might be evident. Acupuncture is used to treat pain by targeting specific acupoints in the body to decrease tightness, increase blood flow, and reduce pain. Acupuncture’s method of activating precise points on the body is crafted to mitigate various ailments, from chronic pain to emotional imbalances, making it an effective treatment for a variety of conditions and their varying levels of severity. The number of sessions to achieve lasting benefits will differ individually as acupuncture’s effectiveness builds up over time. With each treatment, the relief tends to extend for longer periods, illustrating the cumulative nature of acupuncture and its ability to offer progressively enduring relief as part of a holistic health regimen.

Progressive Changes Through Sessionsacupuncture's benefits are cumulative, meaning that while a single session can be beneficial, it typically isn't sufficient for lasting relief.

As you engage in more acupuncture sessions, you'll likely experience diminishing intensity and frequency of migraines and a general decrease in discomfort. These ongoing improvements are signs that the treatments are positively affecting your body. Many people use acupuncture to relieve pain throughout their body, including for migraines, back pain and arthritis.

Acupuncture's benefits are cumulative, meaning that while a single session can be beneficial, it typically isn't sufficient for lasting relief. Consistent treatments allow for these benefits to build and become more pronounced, reinforcing acupuncture's position as a complement to Western medical treatments. Staying committed to a course of sessions and consistently using acupuncture is crucial to reap acupuncture's full therapeutic potential.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

If results aren’t apparent after your initial acupuncture sessions, discussing this with your acupuncturist is important. Before receiving acupuncture treatments, check with your health insurance provider to see if acupuncture is covered. Given the bespoke nature of acupuncture, which may involve a tailored prescription of points from among the 361 on the body, slight modifications might be required. Sometimes, revaluating your TCM diagnosis is necessary to address your health concerns better. Giving acupuncture an adequate opportunity to work is also crucial, as it’s not typically a one-session cure. This holistic approach aims to treat both the symptoms and their underlying causes, focusing on long-term healing rather than quick fixes. Patience and consistent treatment are key, as the benefits of acupuncture often unfold over a number of treatments.

How do you know if acupuncture is not working

If you don't see improvement after multiple sessions or experience negative side effects like increased pain, acupuncture may not be effective for you. Effective communication and adjustments to your treatment plan are crucial. Trust your instincts and discuss any concerns with your acupuncturist.

How Often Should Improvements Be Noticed?

Improvement frequency varies among individuals and conditions. Some may experience positive changes after just one session, while others may need several. Typically, noticeable improvements should occur within 4-6 weeks of regular treatment. Communication with your acupuncturist about any symptom changes is crucial.

What are normal symptoms after acupuncture?

Some common symptoms after acupuncture include soreness, bruising, or bleeding at the site. Others may feel relaxed, sleepy, or energized. Temporary changes in appetite, mood, or bowel movements are also normal. If you have concerns about any symptoms, it's best to talk to your acupuncturist.

Finding an acupuncturistFinding An Acupuncturist

When seeking an acupuncturist, it’s essential to choose a certified and well-trained practitioner. Acupuncture safety is paramount, and visiting a qualified practitioner minimises the risk of complications. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is a reputable body that maintains standards for the practice of acupuncture in the UK. Members of the BAcC are required to adhere to strict codes of conduct and practice, ensuring they meet the highest levels of professionalism and safety. Consulting the BAcC can guide you to find a licensed acupuncturist, giving you peace of mind that you’re in the hands of a trusted professional committed to providing the best possible care.


Acupuncture could be a key to enhancing your health, with each person experiencing its benefits uniquely. Immediate effects like a sense of calm, pain reduction, or better sleep might be noticeable after your first session. A commitment to multiple sessions is often necessary for sustained and deeper health changes. The rate of improvement is personal, based on your condition and how you respond to the treatment. Keep in close communication with your acupuncturist, observing and reporting any shifts you experience. Remember that patience and regular appointments are essential if you're considering acupuncture. 

To explore the full benefits of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, consider booking a session with Deanna Thomas - Acupuncture & Wellbeing, and take a step towards a balanced and healthier you.

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