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5 Tips to Help You Move Past Your Fear of Acupuncture

OK, so maybe some people have no issues with the idea of needles or the whole event of actually getting poked with one – or many – of them. As a chronic illness fighter, I’ve had my fair share of needles and had to get over my fear of them pretty quickly. I was over them, or so I thought, until the idea of using acupuncture as a treatment came up. I’d like to say I wasn’t freaked out whatsoever by those seemingly invisible needles, but I was. Through my anger, fear and stubbornness I was ushered off to an appointment about 30 minutes away from me. I was far from happy and made it pretty clear I had no desire to be there. But, after the second session (when I gave in and allowed the use of needles) my opinion on it changed, and I now look forward to my appointments and getting stuck by 20+ tiny needles! I know not everyone will get over their fear as quickly as I did, and that’s OK, but I recommend being open to it and giving it a shot.

Some tips to help you out:

1. Do your research! Look in your area, ask around for names and go on the acupuncturist’s site. This will help ensure you have nothing but a positive experience. It also helps if you can find someone who has experience treating what you’re dealing with. If you’re having trouble finding someone, your doctor may have a name for you.

2. Let your acupuncturist know exactly how you feel. Sometimes there will be a space on your intake form to let them know you’re reluctant or scared, or you can always tell them when you get into the treatment room. Letting them know right off the bat how you’re feeling will help to keep both of you on the same page. It will also help tailor the treatment to suit your needs. At my first appointment we didn’t even use needles, so there may be other options for you as well.

3. Take a deep breath and try not to worry. I know, that’s much easier said than done. The more you worry and anticipate what’s about to happen, the more you’re exciting your nervous system up and putting your body on guard. You’ll never be able to relax or benefit from the treatment if you’re in fight-or-flight mode. Bring along some music to listen to while in the waiting room (“Hamilton” is a favorite of mine) or something to read to help distract yourself.

4. Remember that these needles are very small compared to what you’re probably used to. These needles aren’t like the ones used for shots, or even the butterfly needles used for blood draws. And trust me, they don’t hurt like shots or blood draws can. Sure, some of them might pinch, but you probably won’t feel the majority of them when they are inserted. I found it to be easy and pretty painless.

5. Take another deep breath, change your mindset and know this might help you feel better. You wouldn’t be there if you, or your doctor, thought it wouldn’t help. Give it a chance. There’s nothing to lose, and if nothing else, the appointment could be relaxing and an escape from the daily grind.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

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