General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Can you give a testimonial for acupuncture?

Asked by Jeruba (55595points) July 19th, 2010

In the wake of this question, I am considering acupuncture. I tend to think of it as witch-doctor hocus-pocus, but I am willing to keep enough of an open mind to give it a try.

Have you ever had acupuncture?

What was it for, did you have a medical diagnosis of the condition you were treating, and had you tried conventional pain relief?

Did acupuncture work?

I’m interested in the comments of real people and not paid online copywriters.

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38 Answers

CMaz's avatar

It did nothing for me.

But then again, I did not BELIEVE it would.

Coloma's avatar

I did 6 months of accupunture for an old shoulder injury that was flaring up.
( Dumped on a horse in my 20’s and a bad dislocation and subsequent pin. )

Worked beautifully…BUT…must be ongoing, not just a few appts.

I also had the electrical chargers put on the needles and it was sublime!

Some people are extra sensitive to this but I liked the highest jolt they could give. lol

Also utilized a lot of herbal therapy for a coinciding immune issue, due to stress.

I have nothing but good things to say about accunpunture.

I was painfree for days between treatments.

There are many paths to healthy wholeness and I am a big fan of the chinese practices and herbal therapies.

Coloma's avatar

My therapy also encompassed pressure point massage and regular massage as well.

Austinlad's avatar

I did, once, and it didn’t do a thing for me.

judochop's avatar

I’ve been a strong advocate for acupuncture for the past several years. I abused my back while growing up competitively taking part in wrestling, drumming, martial arts and bike racing and skateboarding. In 1995 I had a major accident in the Army that left my already sore back feeling like it had been hit by a mortar and a truck. I’ve sprained my back twice and dislocated (squeezed) a couple of discs. It was the opposite of Christmas morning as a kid. I had trouble walking with my back straight. My legs would go numb from pinched nerves, my neck would tense up so much that I could not even turn my head to drive. My finger tips would numb, arms would fall asleep, sometimes it would even hurt to yawn.
I went through years of physical therapy and chiropractors. It was not until recently (past few years that I found a chiropractor and massage therapist and acupuncturist that saved my quality of life.
Acupuncture not only relieved pain, it helped align my bodies energy so that through the chiropractor, massage therapist and me stretching and building my core back in shape I no longer deal with daily pain. It allowed me a peace of mind and helped me with pain management so much that I am now aware of when I need to see my acupuncturist before a spasm gets out of hand.
The only chance you have at really fixing the problem is acupuncture or Chinese medicine and you. Western medicines will only mask the issues while damaging others.
In a nutshell, it saved my life.

andrew's avatar

I did acupuncture of off @shilolo’s recommendation when I had the worst migraines of my life. It helped, somewhat. I actually found that the cranio-sacral massage that was part of the treatment was the most effective.

I’m a fan.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s mostly placebo. There are a few studies to show partial effectiveness in some pain syndromes.

MaryW's avatar

I had acupuncture done on a pony mare who had some “female” issues. Also, her back muscles would cramp and she would misbehave. It really helped her alot. I knew this mare very well in attitude and performance. She was able to be out of pain and I was able to make great progress in her training. She did first level dressage and some jumping. Is now retired and has a little kid just sitting on her at shows. Horses do not placebo.

Coloma's avatar


Awesome! Yes, animals are so pure of heart and mind, no mistaking results with them!

cookieman's avatar

I went for acupuncture and deep tissue pressure point massage for about a year to treat a very bad back.

Worked like a charm.

My MD’s suggestion was lots of Advil which bothered my stomach and the pain returned as soon as the pills wore off.

The acupuncture-massage combo got me feeling about 80% better. A new mattress and losing some weight will get me the rest of the way there.

Coloma's avatar


Yes, as was mentioned, often the western medical approach is just sticking a band aid of drugs on one. Many other eastern/holistic practices treat the totality of the problem.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve had it lots of time and swear by it now. Fifteen years ago I had a bad car accident and tore up muscles in my back which healed all gnarly. Five years of massage and all kinds of muscle relaxants, pain pills and even cortisone shots didn’t give me enough relief to sit, stand, sleep or much of anything comfortably and I was an angry miserable mess. My idiot dr. suggested acupuncture when I refused more pills. Imagine my surprise for him to suggest as a last resort what would have made the most sense for me to try first being non chemical, non invasive, non physically jarring and the least expensive. Doh! Anymore I go in for a tune up about twice a year. Do it Jeruba, do it!


It worked for me. I swim a lot, and once in awhile I get backaches, and acupuncture always relieves the pain better than conventional over-the-counter pain medications. The key is to have someone who really knows his stuff——someone who has trained for years and years and is professionally certified.

Kraigmo's avatar

I know acupuncture can work dramatically. When done right, it really is amazing. I’ve had both sinus issues cured as well as work injuries. I’ve had “progressive nerve damage” reverse and stop its progression.

Acupuncture is like any other profession: 90% of those who practice it, SUCK at it and fake their way through it. (Same is true for almost any skilled profession).

But when you find the right one, the healing can change your life.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It is based on long respected set on principles and has the respect on many medical pain specialists. It does not work on every person or for every condition but it will do no, harm!

It is not painful or scary. It is really worth a try @Jeruba .

Buttonstc's avatar

I have done quite a bit of reading about its usage for animals as I had an 18 yr. old cat showing signs of stiffness presumably from arthritis.

As previously mentioned, animals aren’t influenced by placebo effect since they don’t make connections between the treatments and pain relief.

The animal either has increased mobility or they don’t. I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that it’s not just a case of mind over matter.

The other factor is that there really isn’t a downside here the way that most medications produce undesirable side effects.

There are also significant numbers of MDs realizing its effectiveness and they are generally THE MOST skeptical of any type of alternative treatments.

My one experience was not with acupuncture in isolation but it did involve a Chinese MD who had been trained in acupuncture as well.

He was the one doing the epidural cortisone shot prescribed by the Orthopedist whom I was seeing for a severely strained back.

I was pretty apprehensive about getting an injection directly into the spine but this guy had a sterling reputation.

A week later I was pretty much back to normal and the procedure itself didn’t hurt. Obviously the guy knew what he was doing as he was a Western credentialed Anesthesiologist, but I think his acupuncture experience also helped.

I think the crucial aspect for you is finding an acupuncturist with a good reputation in the regular medical community.

If you ask for a recommendation from a pain medicine specialist or a Physiatrist, they would know which acupuncturists in your area have the best track record.

Since you are as skeptical as you’ve stated, I think it would be of utmost importance that you find someone in whom others have confidence.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I had it. It felt like they shoved a buttload of needles in me. It was uncomfortable and painful and awkward and scary. Afterwards, it didn’t help with anything, but it did make me really resent my parents for making me do that (it was for depression when I was 15).

gailcalled's avatar

I went to a Chinese woman who had her training in China. My problem was chronic and debilitating lower back pain. She told me to try 8 sessions and then evaluate.

Each session took about an hour; I cried uncontrollably during every one and my nose ran copiously. Since one is not supposed to even twitch while the needles are in, Dr. Pang had to come in and mop me up regularly.

After the 8 sessions, she said, “You go swim. You go talk someone.” So I did…both.

Interesting and clearly connected to the central nervous system. There were people there with MS. fertility problems, arthritis and various other problems and ailments. I see no harm at all in trying it with a reputable person. There was no pain connected to the insertion and no issue about the sterility of the needles.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I did acupuncture once when I was in nursing school. We were participating in clinicals at a drug/alcohol rehab facility. They offer acupuncture to the people at the facility on a daily basis. They do a detox and relaxation set that puts 5 or 6 needles in your ear (supposedly lines up with your kidneys and something else). We went into the room, they had soothing music playing and the lights were dimmed, and they had us lay down and they inserted the needles. We then laid there for about an hour (and got to sleep). I woke up feeling great, but it could have been from the nap.

Jeruba's avatar

@gailcalled, did it help the pain?

@Dr_Lawrence, I’m not scared of needles, and certainly not of a little pain. I’m a skeptic. Do you have to be a believer in order for it to work? (If you take a placebo and experience relief from pain, does it matter that it was a placebo?)

gorillapaws's avatar

Here is a link to an article that discusses the results of a study that found that putting needles in random places was just as effective as those in the “right” places for treating headaches and migraines.

Here is another link to an article that discusses the results of a different study that found that using toothpicks instead of needles was just as effective.

Unfortunately, for certain types of chronic pain, there really aren’t very good solutions out there yet. I certainly hope they can figure out how to make you feel better.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks for both articles, @gorillapaws. They pretty much confirm my belief. Still, if it does no harm, I suppose there’s no harm in trying it. It hasn’t prevented me from seeking conventional treatment that could help me (one argument against alternative therapies) since I tried those first. Still thinking it over.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am a skeptic also but one must admit that Eastern medicine has been practiced much longer than western and as was said above does not so much deal in masking a symptom as addressing the cause.

I had it done one a dog and he improved dramatically and again as was noted above, no placebo thinking involved.

I tried it initially to stop smoking, it didn’t work but my overall sense of well being bloomed. I think it can work wonders in some situations and at worst have no effect in others.

Give it a go and tell us what happens.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba happy to help. It could be related to endorphins being released. This might provide some relief, and could be worth trying. The downsides are your time, the cost, and the rather small chance of infection, so not a huge risk if you decide to do it. Best wishes.

Buttonstc's avatar

You asked an interesting Q earlier. Do you have to believe in it in order for it to work?

Well, in the case of animals, obviously not. The have no idea what’s going on. Their body just responds.

But think of the opposite corollary, if you will. They aren’t skeptical either since they don’t know. So there is no hindering any benefiicial effect. Kind of interesting when you think about it.

The mind-body connections for us humans is incredibly powerful and difficult to measure. But it’s a component which cannot be eliminated.

That was the primary reason for my suggestion to try to find an acupuncturist in your area who is recommended by regular MDs. Not only because it will insure against getting an untrained bogus quack but also to counterbalance some of your own natural skepticism.

If a regular typically Western schooled MD with whom we are all familiar regards this person as someone worthy of recommendation, then perhaps that can help in the mind/body dynamic for you. Just a thought.

I sincerely hope you do find a solution for your pain. I know how much it sucks as I’m in a similar situation with my knees.

anartist's avatar

I had an incredibly painful eye infection, nearly lost one eye. While it was active it felt like a fork stuck in my eye 24–7. I was amazed that acupuncture helped. He was an old-world Chinese practitioner who also was an MD anesthesiologist. He invited my elderly male friend who had brought me into the room while I had treatment [with most of my clothes off] My friend and I were both artists so it wasn’t that embarrassing. He used great big needles that he sterilized in an autoclave [not disposable common pins].He ran them from my foot to my scalp and 2 around the eye. I was amazed that he went so far afield in needle placement and equally amazed at the relief.

mattbrowne's avatar

My mother had treatment and it did help her. The science is not fully understood, but here are two interesting articles:

“Acupuncture eases pain in the limbs because it releases a natural molecule called adenosine, say neuroscientists. During and just after this operation, levels of the neurotransmitter adenosine in the tissues surrounding the needle surged 24-fold. The mice’s discomfort – measurable by the rodents’ response time to touch and heat – was reduced by two-thirds, the researchers found.”

“The 3,000-year-old Chinese technique has been used to treat a variety of health problems, including heart disease. And now experiments have revealed the chemical that mediates acupuncture’s beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. It seems inserting the fine needles into the specially-defined body points triggers the production of chemicals called endorphins.”

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: The acupuncture did not alleviate my back pain, but seeing a psychiatrist and swimming regularly (Dr. Pang’s advice) did. So she steered me in the right direction.

And emotionally, as I said, it was very cleansing. I was astonished at what I had bottled up.
I couldn’t quantify it at the time, but there was certainly issues. I was able to sort things out with the psychiatrist, over a period of four years.

And some of the needles were in odd places…ear lobes, for example. She also used a mild electrical current and sent me home one week with small magnets stuck on either size of my spine. I suspect that did nothing. But I was entertained.

andrew's avatar

@gailcalled Actually, that’s what I experienced as well. The process of it is as or nearly as beneficial as the actual treatment. You can’t really separate the two.

Rarebear's avatar

If something works only because you believe it works, it’s a placebo. If a treatment is effective then it will be effective whether or not you believe it.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Real relief is all that matters my dear @Jeruba .

mattbrowne's avatar

@Rarebear – Homeopathy is placebo. Acupuncture very likely is not. And so are many real pills. But believing in the effectiveness of treatment will actually increase the effectiveness of treatment even more. So the pill is good. You also think the pill is good. This means the pill is even better. The placebo effect can offer additional effectiveness. Even for the real stuff.

One reason homeopathy works is the fact that the healer spends an hour with his or her patient while many busy doctors don’t see the person, only the ailment and the pill he will prescribe. But the homeopathic pills do absolutely nothing. If the whole universe were one homeopathic pill with a D100 potency there would be less than 1 homeopathic molecule in it. Take it to the D1000 level and you actually need a multiverse. Tegmark is thrilled. Homeopathy is nonsense, but it works, because some people believe in it.

Coloma's avatar

I am also a fan of hypnosis which stopped my smoking habit.

A certified medical hypnotherapist treats chronic pain as well as many other medically related issues.

I prefer utilizing the more holistic and alternative therapies and save the hardcore western approach for if I get hit by a bus and need to be taken to the ER. for treatment by all the kings horse and all the kings men. lol

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne Like I said above, there are a few studies that show that acupuncture may have some marginal effectiveness in certain pain syndromes.

Rarebear's avatar

@Jeruba In direct answer to your question, acupuncture has been studied for chronic knee osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain and has some effectiveness. It has not been studied for chronic shoulder pain. My recommendation is that if you want to go this route is to get local recommendations from people, and go to someone with a lot of experience. There are physicians who are trained in acupuncture also (I know two), but they can be somewhat hard to find.

Coloma's avatar

In re: to my posting, helped my chronic shoulder pain from an old injury very much.

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