What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a holistic system of healing, developed and refined in the Far East over a period of more than 2500 years. Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity shown to be effective in treating specific health problems. While perhaps best known for pain relief, traditional acupuncture is used to maintain health and treat a wide range of illnesses. It focuses on the patient’s overall well-being rather than treating only specific, isolated symptoms. The basic premise of all Oriental medicine is that health is dependent on the body’s life force, “Qi,” flowing in a smooth and balanced way through the network of meridians (channels) connecting all major organs. Qi consists of equal and opposite qualities, known as yin and yang. When the Qi is disturbed, these become unbalanced, resulting in illness. The acupuncturist restores the balance by inserting fine sterilized needles into the energy channels, stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

What Does Acupuncture Feel Like?

Acupuncture needles are disposable, metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
Acupuncture employs skinny, disposable steel needles 1/4 mm in diameter and 1 to 1.5 inches in length. The needle is solid and made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin feels very different from the injections or blood sampling. Most patients feel only minimal pricking pain as the needles are inserted; some do not feel anything at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Although, it is considered normal and even beneficial to feel certain sensations at some acupuncture points during the treatment. You might feel tingling, distention, warmth, mild aching around the needle, or traveling up or down the involved meridian. Most patients find treatments very relaxing, and it is a common practice for patients to fall asleep during the treatment.
That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your medical condition. You may need only 2-4 treatments two-three times a week for an acute problem. Long-term, chronic conditions might take dozens of treatments, starting from a few times a week and graduating to once-a-week sessions as the condition is significantly improved. Generally, the longer the condition has existed, and the more serious the condition is, the more treatments will be necessary. As a rule, a relatively intense treatment schedule will occur initially, which will cut down on the total number of treatments and speed up the recovery process. For health maintenance and general well-being, once a month treatment may be all that is necessary.
Traditional acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (Energy) and Xue (Blood) through distinct meridians or pathways that cover the body in a way that nerves and blood vessels do. According to ancient theory, acupuncture removes blockages in the meridians. It allows Qi to flow to the areas where it is deficient and away from excessive qi, regulating and restoring the body’s energetic balance. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, including endorphins and other neurotransmitters. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones that influence the body’s internal regulating system, bringing about a normalizing effect on neuroendocrine function. The energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities and promotes physical and emotional well-being.
Depending on your condition and a protocol used, treatment might take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.
For your initial consultation, the acupuncturist needs to assess your general health. You will be asked about your current symptoms and any treatment you have received so far. It is also essential to gather detailed information about your medical history and family, diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns, and emotional state. The acupuncturist is likely to check your pulse to investigate how the energies are flowing in your body. The structure, color, and coating of your tongue also provide keys to your physical health. Stimulation of specific areas affects the functioning of various organs. However, those areas may not be close to the part of the body where you are experiencing a problem. For example, if you suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or hand. Around 500 acupuncture points are on the body; an experienced acupuncturist will use a selection of perhaps 10 or 12 of these for each treatment. Often during the course of treatment, different points will be selected as the patient’s condition changes. The acupuncturist may also use other methods include electro-acupuncture. We recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to receive acupuncture treatment. You should also be aware that the acupuncturist might need to access points on your torso, arms, and legs.
Yes. Licensed acupuncturists are required to pass and be certified in the Clean Needle Technique exam that ensures the safety of the treatment. The acupuncturist in this office uses only sterilized, individually packed, and disposable needles never saved or used in multiple treatments. This way eliminates the possibility of transmitting a communicable disease by a contaminated needle.

Yes, the following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:

  • Maintain good personal hygiene to reduce the possibility of bacterial infection. Wear loose clothing and, if possible, avoid wearing tight stockings. Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex.
  • Avoid eating a big meal within one hour of your appointment (digestion alters the pattern of your pulse).
  • Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor. Please bring with you any information about your case you may have from your other doctors, including things like lab tests, blood work, reports of x-rays or MRIs, etc. To save time, you may fill out our office forms before coming into the office.
  • Relax; there is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner any questions you have along the way to get the most benefit possible from the treatment. During the treatment, do not change your position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner.
  • Few people experience dizziness, nausea, cold sweat, shortness of breath, or faintness during treatment. This can occur if you are nervous. Inform your practitioner immediately so they can readjust or withdraw the needles. Also, let your practitioner know if you feel an increasing amount of pain or burning sensation during the treatment. If you find your treatment unbearable at any point, be sure to speak up so that your practitioner can make proper adjustments or stop the treatment.
  • It also helps to be in a calm state. Try to arrive 10 or 15 minutes before your appointment to give yourself a chance to relax. We recommend wearing comfortable, loose clothing, and you should not wear any metallic jewelry, watches, or earrings.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, food, or drinks that color your tongue (such as coffee) immediately before treatment or following after a treatment. Plan your activities to get some rest after the treatment or at least not have to be working at top performance. This part is crucial for the first few visits. Remember to keep good mental or written notes of what your response is to the treatment. Notes are essential for your doctor to know so that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you and your problem.
You may note a blood spot at one or more of the needle sites, and/or a slight bruise could develop. These should not be harmful, but please talk to your practitioner if you are concerned. Patients often experience the most dramatic results after the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last, or some pain may return after a day or so. There may be no immediate relief in a few cases, but patients notice the diminishment of pain over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better, but in some small percentage of cases, the treatment provokes a “healing crisis”; in such patients, the pain increases due to the treatment. This event is a positive sign and usually indicates that relief will follow subsequent treatments.
Absolutely! Acupuncture is a legally accepted branch of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the US, just like chiropractic manipulations. Only by combining Western and Eastern medical care can we reach optimum health and well-being. If you are receiving treatment from your doctor, it makes sense to tell them about your intention to have acupuncture. Feel free to give your medical doctor any information about your acupuncture provider and encourage them to contact us. At the same time, you should always inform your acupuncturist of any other treatment you are receiving, such as medications, as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
Yes, at least until you have thoroughly discussed your options with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment – whether it does not seem to be working or there are unacceptable side effects. However, DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance.
Acupuncture is highly effective as preventative medicine and drug-free treatment of signs and symptoms. Studies indicate that acupuncture influences the central and peripheral nervous system, and evidence shows it releases endorphins from the brain, making acupuncture particularly effective in pain control. Among a host of factors, acupuncture affects sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the blood; the functioning of the gastrointestinal system; and the activity of the endocrine system. Acupuncture works with the body, strengthening and balancing energy. It improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely.
Yes. Acupuncture has traditionally been used as preventive medicine. Recent research has verified that acupuncture stimulates immune function, which increases resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Acupuncture can dramatically increase overall vitality and energy. It treats underlying causes, resulting in a deeper kind of healing. It brings about profound changes in peoples’ lives on the emotional level as well. Many people find that occasional acupuncture tune-ups are the best medicine for feeling “in sync” and ensuring continuing health.
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