Acupuncture – the needles are smaller than I expected

I don’t know why I imagined that the acupuncture needles sticking out of me everywhere would be knitting needle length, but I did. I also erroneously thought some would be placed in my back. For having a sister who works as a veterinarian technician specializing in treating dogs and cats with acupuncture, I was remarkably uninformed about the whole experience.

The needles are maybe four inches long. I had around twenty placed in me, and it took the acupuncturist only about ten minutes to get me set up. I sat in a recliner with my feet up. Because of the nature of my complaints (my newly diagnosed adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder” and recurrent plantar fasciitis in both feet) the majority of the needles were in my left arm and shoulder and my feet. I also had needles inserted in my head, on my forehead, and a few in my calf. Huh.

They didn’t really hurt going in. A few pinched, and a couple made particular muscles “jump” but the acupuncturist prepared me for that. That was kind of neat, actually. There was one needle in my heel which caused me a few deep breaths; the feeling was not pain exactly, just uncomfortable pressure, I guess, but it receded. I relaxed in the recliner for about forty-five minutes while the needles did their work. I expected to fall asleep, but didn’t. Perhaps it was my interest in the other people at the clinic that kept me awake.

The Tucson Community Acupuncture Clinic is set up as a gigantic living room with about twenty different recliners arranged around the periphery of the room. Patients come into the room at their scheduled appointment time, kick off their shoes, store their valuables in a basket on the floor, and wait for their acupuncturist to come and do his or her work. Then they are free to relax until they feel they are ready to have the needles removed. The clinic’s website says the record is five hours! One benefit of this arrangement, among others noted on the website, is that they are able to offer acupuncture at relatively low cost on a sliding scale from $15-35 per appointment. This is great because I guess it can take anywhere from five to ten appointments to start seeing some results.

The clinic was relatively quiet when I showed up, but over the course of my appointment a number of people came for treatment. I was strangely surprised by the number of people who were there that appeared older than me. For some reason I thought this alternative medicine/treatment would attract younger folks, and while there were some younger people in attendance, I would say the majority were fifty-plus years-old. Regardless of the age of the patients, I was happy to see so many; it seems acupuncture is helping a lot of folks. I hope it helps me.




4 thoughts on “Acupuncture – the needles are smaller than I expected

  1. Oh you poor thing. I’ve had a frozen shoulder too, and they are SO painful. BUT congratulations on the diagnosis, which paves the way for the right treatment. I had acupuncture and PT too, and mine cleared up in six months, far less time than my dr thought it would. The acupuncture was actually quite painful (the only painful acupuncture I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of acupuncture) but was key. After almost each session I had significant (if tiny) more movement. Best of luck healing quickly. Funny, I thought I’d just drop in and visit and now I’m reading and commenting like a maniac!


    1. Wow! It’s so great to hear from someone else who had this crazy condition! I’m glad yours cleared up so quickly. I feel pretty stuck right now. The pain is dull, but ever-present and the acupuncture does not seem to be making a noticeable difference. I’ve become lax with my PT exercises, and now we’re moving out of state, so I will have to find new resources. I guess it’s only been a couple of months or so, since the transfer to the frozen stage, so I suppose I shouldn’t be expecting much, but boy is it irritating to not be able to reach above my head or bend my elbow normally with my hand resting on my stomach. Such movements I took for granted until I didn’t have them.


  2. I totally get it. Things like putting on a brassier and washing your hair, are suddenly so hard. Now that I’m thinking about it, the acupuncture did not kick in right away. It took several treatments (five? ten? not sure) for it to kick in, but once the arm started to move a little, it gathered steam. Good luck!


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