Sitting on Pins and Needles

So I decided to try acupuncture for the first time. Yup, me, the girl afraid of needles. I have a knee injury that is taking a long time to heal, and my doctor said acupuncture could help reduce the inflammation and promote a faster healing process. My physical therapist also recommended it, along with numerous friends and family who swear by it.

Not wanting to volunteer to be a pincushion, I ignored the acupuncture recommendations until this past week. I thought about how I have never heard of anyone having a bad experience with acupuncture. I couldn’t hurt to look into it (well, aside from the pain of the needles, of course).

I looked up some information about how acupuncture works, and I was impressed to find that about 3 million Americans use it regularly for a variety of conditions. I had mistakenly believed that acupuncture was used exclusively to treat pain, but I learned that it can successfully address a wide variety of ailments and medical conditions. But could it help with my knee pain? I’ve had swelling and pain due to a severe bone bruise when I fell and my knee popped out of joint. I also needed to strengthen my muscles around my knee, which atrophied while being in a straight leg brace for most of the summer. Should I take a jab at acupuncture? (Sorry, I can’t resist a good pun.)

I read more about acupuncture and knee injuries at Acupuncture Today. The knee is a common place for injuries, and it’s a complex joint to repair. However, acupuncture has been shown to successfully address the many challenges people face with knee pain from trauma or chronic medical conditions.

My biggest fear was that the needles would hurt. I found some information about what sensations to expect. I thought I would feel a needle in my skin because, well, there would be a needle in my skin. I

learned that there are a variety of sensations I might feel from heaviness, warmth, or tingling sensations. Pain was not to be expected. So, basically, I was out of excuses to avoid acupuncture, and everyone telling me to give it a shot was getting on my nerves. So I made an appointment with Jeffrey P. Aleski, C.A., Dipl. Ac at Central Jersey Acupuncture.

Jeff asked me several health-related questions and explained the process to me before starting. I lay on the table in my shorts and tank top while taking a deep breath and exhaling as needles were inserted. It definitely didn’t hurt, but there was some discomfort with just a couple of needles. The acupuncturist adjusted them, and I was good to go. Well, not go, but more lay still for 30 minutes. I soon realized that the hardest part of acupuncture for me would be the laying still part. No cell phone, no clock, quiet room with soft music playing, and just me with my thoughts.

The time dragged by slowly at first as I thought to myself, “Don’t think about the needles, don’t think about the needles” to thinking about my to-do list. Knowing I couldn’t make note of the things on my list by writing them down like I normally do, I had to let those thoughts go. I just lay there, letting my mind wander. I visualized my thoughts being like ocean waves, entering and leaving my mind. I acknowledged them and released them, and I was stunned when a timer went off indicating 30 minutes had passed. Wow!

The Jeff removed the needles and rubbed a minty-scented liniment on my knee. I was told it can take several sessions for you to feel a real difference, but I have to say that I felt pretty good afterward. I felt less stiffness in my knee and could feel more range of movement.

As a first-time experience with acupuncture, I really understood the point of using the needles to treat ailments. I am looking forward to continued sessions and thinking up more acupuncture puns to share with you!

Have you tried acupuncture? Tell me about your experiences in the comment section below!

Originally published at on October 17, 2015.