Trying acupuncture

Like a wise man named Julian Casablanca once sang, I’ll try anything once. This includes having a stranger who is not a medical doctor poke me with needles. I am at my wit’s end with this nagging ankle injury and open to any solution.

After asking friends and scouring Yelp, I found an acupuncturist with excellent reviews with an availability for the very next day. I looked for someone who had specifically helped with ankle injuries before. I don’t know if that matters but I thought it might.

In case you’ve never tried acupuncture (I hadn’t before this!) this is how it went. (I know I was super curious before going.)

The acupuncturist was located in an apartment building in Gramercy. The vibe in the waiting room was “empty yoga studio” but the acupuncturist was dressed more “Murray Hill lady” than yogi.

a picture of the lobby I found on Yelp
a picture of the lobby I found on Yelp

She handed me an iPad and filled out a long intake form on the iPad which was sort of annoying to do on a tablet.

Then the acupuncturist came back and took me into the treatment room. It looked just like any place you’d get a massage. We spoke for 10 minutes about the history of my ankle pain — a tale as old as time, or 2009. She took notes because it was obviously very interesting and worth remembering.

Then she told me the game plan: she would put needles along my calf and in my foot and ankle. She explained what that might feel like and would it might mean. For example: if inserting a needle creates an intense pressure, it could be a positive sign that  a tightened muscle will release. Depending on how that first part goes, she said she might want to try some “stim,” which means an electric pulsing is added to the needles. That made me nervous but I nodded hoping I wouldn’t need it.

She closed the door and I put on a gown. Floor length, black, made my butt look great. Just kidding it was a hospital gown. After an appropriate amount of time, the acupuncturist returned. She massaged my legs as if feeling around for the right spot. I’m not sure what the right spot would look or feel like. She put in the first needle and asked me to breath in. I won’t lie; it hurt. Ok it didn’t hurt but it noticeably pinched, like sticking yourself with a safety pin. It was fiiine. I have a pain threshold of 0.

The insertion of one of the needles felt really intense and she moved it a bit and eventually took it out. Then she gave me eye pillow (which I think had lavender-scented chloroform on it). I lay down and my body started to feel heavy. She left the room and I sat with it for some amount of time probably 10 minutes.

When she came back, she decided I needed some stim. She lightly added electric stimulation to one of the needles. I am not even sure if I felt a slight tapping or vibration or if it was psychosomatic. I sat with that for a few more minutes.

Then it was over. She said I might feel some improvement within three days. She also said I might need to come back 3 to 5 times.I am not sure I will.

So far I don’t think I notice a difference. It was a bit sore after the needles, too. I don’t really GET acupuncture. After the session, I looked into acupuncture more, and I liked NYU’s definition here. But that isn’t how the acupuncturist I saw described it. She made it sound very clinical, as if the needle would be hitting specific tendons, not an energy point. So man, in conclusion, I don’t really know.

I really like science, facts, plans and rules. So I am not sure what to make of acupuncture. Has anyone had a major success?



  1. January 16, 2015 / 9:06 am

    My experience was so totally different. Any interest in taking the PATH to Hoboken and trying my guy? He was awesome – didn’t treat just the spot with my injury (though he treated that spot with needles AND e-stim and heat lamp) but he also treated a few other conditions he noticed as well. He also explained to me why some types of acupuncture don’t work as well, and how his method is different. Might be worth a consultation!

    • Nicole
      January 16, 2015 / 5:30 pm

      Interesting. That’s a little far for me but maybe…

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