Acupuncture Needle fears from a mechanic’s assistant – Bergen County and Ridgewood, NJ – True Story!
Here’s a true story. I had to bring my car in to my trusted mechanic at Tom’s auto shop in Bogota New Jersey. Tom is an old school type of guy. Being raised in a traditional Italian home, Tom projects a no nonsense type of guy. He is honest, a little tough, he sometimes rides me for the things I do to my car (all in jest of course)! I trust him because he will tell me straight out what my car (and personal) problems are! Thankfully, my car only needed oil change and a new rear side view mirror! I damaged it by hitting the back of it when getting too close to a traffic cone, left over at night. I was driving at night to Mount Vernon, I had inadvertently left my laptop at my account’s house. So when taking the drive up to him that night, I heard a whack and saw my right rearview mirror fold. I didn’t even notice the problem until the next day! In my defense, I was driving through a construction area, where the road narrowed to one lane, on a winding road, on the route to his house. Turns out, that I lost the backing to the mirror, so I wasn’t off the hook! Hence the need for a new mirror to replace the half broken mirror!
One of the mechanical assistants, is around 22 years old. He is very polite and meticulous in his work. We started talking and at some point during the conversation, he asked me point blank, “What kind of work do you do?”. I replied “ I work as an acupuncturist!” He responded, “You know I am suffering from some back pain.” I said “You should definitely see me about it”. I use acupuncture to increase blood flow to the muscles and nerve impulses to the nerves to shut down the pain being sent from your brain to your back muscles. He then leaned forward, and with a slight pause in his voice he asked “But you use needles, right?”
I had to ty to show him how small the needles were. Since I didn’t have any needles with me, I asked him if he had a small pin that was lying around. He did, and he showed me one. I showed him that the needle that acupuncturists use area about 20X smaller than that. He looked at me incredulously. He wasn’t buying it. When I explained it to him again he still couldn’t get that dumbfounded look off of his face. The kind of pained look you have right after you stub your toe but the pain hasn’t kicked in yet. After a few more seconds, he looked up at me, unhinged from his frozen stupor and said “weird” .
Needle fear is the single most common reason why more people don’t try acupuncture. My mechanic friend is not alone! But with a few facts many people’s eyes light up with enlightment and see that acupuncture needles are NOT the same as a hypodermic needle.
Acupuncture needles are very different from needles used for injections. Injection needles are hollow and are larger and thicker, because they allow fluid, like blood, to pass through them. They must punch out a hole in the skin. By contrast, acupuncture needles are much finer, smaller, and are solid, so they can easily pass through and into the skin.
|Acupuncture needles are very different from needles used to give injections or to draw blood. Injection needles are larger gauge, thicker, and because they are hollow to allow the fluid to flow through, they must punch out a hole in the skin. Acupuncture needles are much finer, and are solid, so they can pass easily through and into tissues. Only rarely do they cause bleeding or bruising.
Most needles used today are stainless steel. All of them are disposable sterile, single use needles. I usually insert 15 to 25 needles at a time. In acupuncture you are creating a pattern with the acupuncture points, a pattern that gets “read” by the brain as nerve signals that the brain interprets and sends stimuli via neurotransmitters to affect the targeted condition or area.
Too many needles can also cause a “traffic jam”, because the brain becomes confused from all of the different stimuli that the body is receiving. Usually the thin needles need to be inserted with a shinkan, or a guide tube, a device invented by a blind Japanese acupuncturist in the 17th century. These days, many practitioners use guide tubes because it makes insertion more comfortable for the patient.
The needles are inserted anywhere from 1/8 inch deep to 1 inch or more, depending on the location on the body, the nature of the point, the nature of the symptoms, and the technique being used. Needles used at points on the wrist or the sides of the feet are inserted very shallowly, as there is not much flesh, while needling points that are more fleshy such as buttocks or shoulder points need to insert deeper to access the point.
Sometimes, we can needle 1 area and activate two acupuncture points. For example, there are points in the side of the wrist, which can be needled to hit two points. From this example (see picture), you can needle a point on the side of the wrist, and if done correctly you can needle into another point. In this case you can needle from the acupuncture point Heart-7 through to Pericardium-6 if needling into the wrist to across the wrist. The point Pericardium-6 is the famous point for motion sickness or morning sickness. Pericardium 6 (PC-6) has a wonderful effect on digestive disorders of the stomach. Additionally, if we add Heart-7 (Ht-7), which is the point found at the crease of the wrist, we can tap into some deep relaxation which gets invoked with this point. Ht-7 can relax a person and calm the mind for reducing stress, improving sleep and regulating moods. People experiencing high tension and stress who also get some form of digestive disturbance such as burping, flatulence, acid reflux, irritable bowel condition, for example, can enjoy the benefit from the effects of this acupuncture point from the use of only one needle. This combination is even helpful for people who “worry” a lot but without the accompanying digestive symptoms. Worry affects digestion, and so by treating the smooth muscles of your digestive tract (which your digestive tract is made up of), you can relax a person as well. The relationship can go both ways!
Many times the insertion of the needle isn’t noticed by the patient at other times a mosquito-bite pricking may be felt, but it passes very quickly as the needle gets through the skin layers. I never understood how someone who got several tattoos could be so scared of getting acupuncture?
Remember, when you are sitting with the needles, your body is getting a signal. Like a program that downloads into your computer, your body is downloading a “program” into the body, from the needles. So even though it looks like nothing is occurring, realize that there is a lot going on beneath the surface!
So to my mechanic assistant, and all people like him, I wanted to share this final thought! Most patients find acupuncture very calming and relaxing and I’ve heard more than one patient say to me “I can’t believe that I fell asleep with these needles in me!”