Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Experience: Acupuncture and cupping

A few weekends ago, I was with two of my friends wondering if I would continue taking Korean lessons, if I was able to finish my huge American breakfast, and if acupuncture would help my sore neck and shoulders.  I ended up learning all of those answers within 2 hours when I found myself skipping Korean class in a doctor's waiting room with my friend Jason looking through cosmetic surgery books.

This is a mark left from the cupping about ten minutes after the procedure.

I hate needles.  Well, I thought I did.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure I still do.  But I've been hyping myself up on getting laser hair removal, I'm seriously considering getting a tattoo, and I'd been toying with the idea of acupuncture for a while.  Really, everything happened too fast for me to get freaked out.  Jason said he'd go with me if I wanted him to, there wasn't much of a line for the doctor, and then, before I knew it, I was ushered into the changing room then lying face first on a bench and explaining where my soreness was to the acupuncturist.

Go figure, but the needles just felt like little needles.  Actually, once they were in, I couldn't feel them at all as long as I didn't move.  I did move at one point, just to see if I could feel them, and I immediately regretted it.  I'm pretty sure my moving readjusted one of the needles to an angle it wasn't meant to rest at. 

It was pretty neat to be forced to lie there quietly.  There was a heat lamp above me (I felt like a lizard), and piano music around me.  Heck, I was paying to nap, I might as well take advantage of it!  My friend Holly has fallen asleep during acupuncture before, and I was really hoping that would happen to me, but it didn't happen.  I guess I've got a reason to try it again.

This was taken two days after the procedure.

I hadn't expected it to get any cupping, but it made sense once I saw it was coming.  After taking the needles out, the doctor placed four small glass cups on my back and used a pump to create a suction that lifted my skin and blood away from my body.  It's designed to suck out blood that's been contaminated by the released toxins.  It also seriously encourages blood flow to the treated area to bring about faster or better healing.  This part felt strange and it hurt a little, but I liked it in the way a really hard massage or a deep scratching on an itchy head feels good.
Once I was all finished, I moved my muscles around to see if I felt any difference.  I didn't detect any sudden benefit.  In fact, Jason and I both said that we felt like our muscles were warm and ready for a deep tissue massage.  To this day, we're both pretty sure that a massage would have sealed the affects of what we were going for.

I'm interested to see what regular visits or treatment in a different area would do for meI would probably go again.

Have you ever tried acupuncture?  Any other stories about what it was like?  And what about cupping?  It was completely foreign to me until two weeks ago!


  1. Way to go, Lindsay! Like you, there are also a lot of things I wanna do, and one of them is to also get acupunctured. Its health benefits and natural approach is quite a good deal, won’t you agree? Anyway, isn’t it crazy seeing the cup marks? Actually, cupping is just another form of acupuncture. It is mostly for people who can’t stand needles.

  2. Thanks, Erik! I'm glad I went. I went for acupuncture appointments twice more near the end of my stay in Korea to ease neck pain. From what I understand, acupuncture works best when you're treated regularly (kind of like how a lifestyle of exercise is more healthy than only exercising only once in a while, I think). At the other clinic I went to, instead of the standard cupping, they used electronic cups that sent pulses into my muscles. It felt so good!

    Thanks for the extra info. I'm still interested in all this, and I don't know if I'll get to go again, but I love learning about it.

  3. I haven’t tried acupuncture yet because I’m kind of a tryanophobic. It seems that I won’t get the relaxation that you guys experience after the procedure. On the other hand, I’m interested in cupping, especially the electrical ones that you had. I think I’ll be in favor of that over the needles, but I’m not totally turning my back on acupuncture.

  4. Maragaret, yeah, I did have an electronic cupping done later. It made my muscles spasm, which felt strange, but it felt like the cupping was doing something right. My favorite part of the whole experience was being force to lie down in the middle of the day under heat lamps with instructions to breathe deeply. Relaxing my body and my mind was a requirement, and that was great.

  5. I just recently finished my last session on my acupuncture treatment. Since I started the treatment, I already felt that something has changed. So, I'm continuing the whole treatment and now I feel so much better. No more heavy feeling. I feel so relieved and reenergized. I didn’t experience the cupping that you’re talking about, but I think that’s pretty interesting to try. ->Major Marburger

    1. I'm so glad acupuncture has worked so well for you! I started going more regularly during my last month in Korea to help with a pain in my neck. I didn't feel any noticeable results, but it did help me relax. (It was also VERY cheap! Less than $5 and later less than $3 for a 45 minute session!)

      I've moved back to America recently, and there are fewer acupuncturists. I miss it (and the great price).


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