Frequently Asked Questions about Chinese Medicine & Acuupuncture

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

    Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing practice in which hair-thin needles are inserted in precise locations on the body in order to help the body restore or maintain proper energy flow along pathways called meridians.  According to Chinese Medicine, imbalances of this energy, called "qi" ( pronounced “chee”) are the root of all illnesses. Scientific research has shown that acupuncture helps to regulate the nervous system and restore homeostasis- the balanced state of the body- by increasing blood flow in the body, reducing inflammation, and increasing production of neurotransmitters and endorphins, our body's natural pain and stress relievers. 

  

How is acupuncture beneficial?

Acupuncture can help heal a variety of conditions, ranging from musculoskeletal pain to infertility to chronic depression and anxiety. Patients are diagnosed not just by their main symptoms, but by a pattern identification method that takes all the systems of the body into account and looks for underlying imbalances. This method takes into consideration much more than just the presenting symptoms. For example, 5 patients seeking treatment for migraines might have 5 completely different patterns and will therefore receive 5 different treatments. We ask questions, take pulses in 6 different locations, and look at tongue shape, color and coating to help diagnose.  We look for and aim to treat at the root level in order to help your body heal itself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Many people, including myself, come to acupuncture initially for treatment of a specific ailment, but move on to use acupuncture in a more preventitive/maintenance capacity.

 

What if I hate needles?

This is a very common concern--when people hear "needles" they immediately imagine hypodermic needles delivering painful shots at the doctor's office as a child. Those are no fun for anyone! Acupuncture needles are as thin as a hair and their insertion is virtually painless. This isn't to say that you won't feel it at all, because there is a definite sensation upon insertion- but most patients come to like it.   If you are nervous about needles, definitely speak up! We are trained in many different techniques to help desensitize acupuncture points before needle insertion. If this still sounds miserable, don't rule out Chinese Medicine altogether. There are other modalities that we can use including cupping, guasha, moxabustion and tui na medical massage as well as Chinese herbal medicine and nutritional guidance that can be used to help balance your body without the use of needles.

 

Will you work with our other health care providers to manage my care?

Absolutely! We strongly believe in an integrative, team-based model of health care. We are happy to coordinate your care with any and all healthcare providers you see.  

 

What happens in an acupuncture treatment session?

During your initial visit, we will start with a lengthy health history in which we will ask you a series of questions about your condition and your health in general. (You may not think that your menstrual cycle or anxiety has any connection to your chronic knee pain, but we do!) We will also take your pulses according to the Chinese pulse theory and look at your tongue. If you are coming in for a musculoskeletal issue or injury, we may perform orthopedic testing on you. Once we have identified an underlying pattern of disharmony and prepared a treatment plan, we will insert anywhere between 4 and 20 needles and leave them inserted for 15 to 30 minutes.  Of course this all will vary by patient. Be sure to ask any questions you have upfront, don’t be shy! We may perform supplementary techniques (mentioned above), and discuss dietary modifications and herbal formulas. Your first session will last about 90 minutes. Follow-up treatments will have a shortened intake and will generally last 45-60 minutes. 

 

Will I see immediate results?

This all depends on the nature or your illness or severity of injury, but most people do report improvement after one treatment.  We will work with you to identify short-term and long-term goals, and we will let you know how many treatments and with what frequency we think you might need. Generally, we suggest a series of 5 treatments before evaluating progress.

Your health and happiness are our priority, and we work with a variety of health-care practitioners in the area who we are always happy to refer out to if we think they can be of help to you.