Have you ever thought about using acupuncture or massage therapy treatments and were talked out of it by well-meaning but perhaps misinformed friends? Has your fear of these lesser known treatment modalities kept you from trying them? Here are five questions about acupuncture and massage therapy that should put your mind at ease and give you more correct information.
Aren't acupuncture needles dangerous and painful?
Acupuncture needles today are required to be sterile, and most acupuncturists today use disposable needles to comply with that, so you'll never be treated with needles that were used on another patient. While acupuncturists can't guarantee the experience will be completely pain free, many people find the needles don't hurt much. They are smaller in diameter than sewing needles--many acupuncturists compare them to the size of animal whiskers.
Isn't massage therapy just a spa treatment?
While you may be able to get a massage at many spas, massage as a therapeutic treatment is an accepted form of complementary medicine (alternative medicine used to supplement traditional Western medicine). While massage therapy initially often accompanied orthopedic and similar specialties, it is now used in a range of medical disciplines.
You may be surprised to know that massage therapy is now being studied for the treatment of depression and in many cases achieving good results. This is of great help to patients who cannot take medication for mental health conditions, such as pregnant and nursing women.
Are acupuncture and massage therapy New Age fads?
Both acupuncture and massage therapy have been used for thousands of years and are older forms of treatment than most of Western medicine. Many mainstream Western medical practices and major hospitals have added both therapies to their regular treatment protocols over the last few decades. As studies show more evidence of how beneficial both massage therapy and acupuncture are, they are not considered fads.
Are acupuncturists "real" doctors?
If by "real" doctors, you mean people holding MDs from Western institutions, the answer is yes and no. Some physicians with MD after their names have also learned acupuncture to broaden their skill set.
Other practicing acupuncturists hold degrees from both Western and Eastern colleges, including those that teach oriental medicine. If you are considering using acupuncture to treat a health condition, you should talk to your physician anyway, which is the perfect opportunity to find a practitioner with the credentials your doctor recommends. They may even be part of your health system and covered by your insurance plan.
Why don't they guarantee results with one session?
How often does any treatment work after just one try? While some patients get relief after one or two sessions, sometimes it takes longer to see results. If your condition has been ongoing for a while, it may take some time to resolve, and this is a natural part of any medical treatment. And just like taking medication, some conditions may clear up after a course of several sessions, and others may need ongoing or periodic care.
If you have more questions about acupuncture or massage therapy, your physician or complementary medicine specialists can answer them for you. Being armed with the proper information is the first step in getting help you may need from these age-old and respected forms of therapy.