Selected Podcast

Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture

Acupuncture may help ease some of your physical symptoms. Liz Lee, Licensed Acupuncturist andTraditional East Asian Medicine Practitioner, discusses everything you need to know about acupuncture.
Everything You Need to Know About Acupuncture
Liz Lee, LAc, EAMP
Liz Lee is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Traditional East Asian Medicine Practitioner at Summit Therapy & Health Services. Her special interests include pain management, holistic & preventive health, and Qigong.

Evo Terra (Host):  As a child, I was terrified of needles. Yeah, I was the one you could hear all the way down in the lobby and no amount of lollipops helped. So, I have to wonder, how would I do with acupuncture? That’s an integrative therapy sought out by millions every year. I’ll bring up my fears and get some real answers from Liz Lee, a licensed acupuncturist and traditional East Asian Medicine practitioner at Summit Therapy and Health Services. This is the Health Podcast, the show from Pullman Regional Hospital. I’m Evo Terra. So, as a self-avowed coward Liz, how big are these needles and is this going to hurt?

Liz Lee LAc, EAMP (Guest):  The needles come in different sizes. I would say my standard size is about an inch long, but it doesn’t mean that it gets inserted all that way. It means that I could go as deep as I want to. Some of the needles are very short like the shortest one is half an inch but again, it doesn’t go in all the way and of course the gauge is different. Some of them are longer depending on where I put the needle in like say around the glut area, I do need a longer needle just to access the muscles that are deeper. So, it really depends on the person, and the location that I want to needle.

Host:  Okay, what about that main question which was pain? I’m not a big needle fan.

Liz:  Yes. You know most of the time, I know that people have this idea of okay needle, it’s going to hurt, but most of the time, they don’t feel anything at all. I know that there are different needling techniques and I’m kind of a needle-phobe myself, so I needle the way I’d like to have a treatment myself which is pain free. So, it doesn’t mean you are never going to feel the needle but it’s not going to be like a needle prick you feel when you get a shot or something like that. A lot of times, people feel kind of a heaviness or a dull kind of a sensation or warmth but sometimes people don’t feel anything at all but just a general relaxation feeling.

Host:  Well that’s encouraging. What conditions can acupuncture treat?

Liz:  The number one thing people try acupuncture for is of course pain. Pain related – low back, neck, that kind of thing. But also people come in for other things like anxiety or infertility, digestive issues, IBS, because we say that the needles can help access the organs. So, it’s not just having an affect on the muscle where the needle goes into, but it can affect on a deeper level so more like how internal medicine is affected with the needles, we can access the internal organs with the needles. If that makes sense.  

Host:  It does make sense. So, I’m curious, what do we know, or I guess what do we think about how all of this works?

Liz:  So, this has been around in China for thousands of years and this concept of chi some people may have heard of it. Sometimes it’s spelled qi or chi. Chi means energy or life force. So we say all living things have this chi and sometimes the chi gets stuck or it doesn’t flow very smoothly or there isn’t enough of it. So, that can cause problems. It can cause pain or illness or disease and so, the needles help to facilitate smooth flow of the chi. So, it gets unstuck. Or it flows in the proper direction. Let’s like for example, stomach chi we say should go down but sometimes it goes up and people have reflux. So, the needles will help redirect the chi so it goes down.

Host:  Always when thinking about medical treatments, I think about dangers. I think about side effects. So, what are the dangers and side effects of acupuncture?

Liz:  I would say the number one thing would be you could get a bruise from the needle because it is a needle and it can get into a blood vessel. But that’s pretty rare. The other thing is people get kind of relaxed at the end and so probably not a good idea afterwards to do like a big old workout or something like that. You need to try to plan on relaxing and not doing too much with the body, no alcohol, that kind of thing.

Host:  Relaxation sounds good. Beyond that, what should I expect both during and after my acupuncture treatment?

Liz:  So, the treatment usually lasts about – the needles will stay in anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. It really depends on the person and what they are coming in for. But the whole treatment itself because of course it’s about you need to get the medical history and chat and see how this person is responding. You could be on the table either on your back or on your stomach or both depending on why you are coming in and what your tolerance is. Because everybody is different. Some people do well with a lot of needles. Other people do better with very few needles and like really shallow insertion of the needles.

So, that’s why I always have people come in for three treatments. Because the first time, I’ll kind of get a sense for what kind of treatment you would need and do that and that might be too much or too little so I might do an adjustment and do a different approach if that’s what’s needed. But then you get that feedback and you get kind of the treatment that’s going to hopefully work better. But typically, people will start feeling better after the first treatment. They notice something but maybe it lasted for a couple of days.

Let’s say someone came in for low back pain. They say oh yeah, it hurts to walk for more than 20 minutes, I can’t sit for more than an hour or something like that. So, after the treatment, they might say oh for a couple of days I was able to walk more, or I was able to sit without as much trouble as before. But then slowly the pain came back. So, that’s again, that’s why I have people come in for three treatments because it’s a cumulative effect so it’s one of those things that at first you might notice for a couple of days and then it will last longer and longer depending on what you are coming in for. But it’s like I say, everybody is different so at least give it three tries.

Host:  That’s good to know. And thanks for the information Liz. I hope I didn’t needle you too much with questions. And once again, that’s Liz Lee a licensed acupuncturist and traditional East Asian Medicine Practitioner at Summit Therapy and Health Services. Thanks for checking out this episode of the Health Podcast. Learn more at If you found this episode helpful, please share it on your social channels and be sure to check our entire library of past episodes for topics of interest to you.