How does acupuncture work?

 

Patterns of disharmony are treated with acupuncture using fine stainless steel needles that can tonify or augment, move stagnation, or redirect qi and blood. In addition, herbs continue these effects after the patient goes home to further resolve the imbalance.

The physiological effects of acupuncture work to increase endorphins (natural pain killers), serotonin (brightens mood), white blood cells (fight infection) and circulation (heals tissue).

Acupuncture points are specific areas on the body just beyond the surface of the skin. They have high concentrations of nerve endings, mast cells, lymphatic vessels, and capillaries. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into an acupuncture point, it stimulates the sensory receptor, which in turn stimulates the nerve, which then transmits impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. This complex system of interactions (often called a “feedback loop”) between the brain, hormones, and glands is responsible for regulating a number of bodily processes.

Because acupuncture helps to regulate the various feedback loops in your body, it actually allows your body to heal itself of whatever is wrong. This amazing trait is unique to nearly every other medical system, and has sustained acupuncture as a complete system of medicine for over 5,000 years.

What can I expect at my first visit?

Your Acupuncturist will ask you questions about your health history to get a clear understanding of your condition(s).  A Chinese medical diagnosis is found by looking at your tongue and take your pulse on both wrists.  Fine, sterile disposable needles are used for a treatment that lasts from 20-40 minutes. You should feel comfortable and relaxed during your treatment and may fall in to a meditation or fall asleep. A typical first visit is 90 minutes and subsequent visits are 60 minutes. Please arrive early if the paperwork will not be brought in. (Forms available on Homepage).

How can I prepare for my visit?

Please print and bring the forms with you if you prefer to fill out at home

Please eat a small amount or have a meal within a few hours before, and refrain from stimulants, alcohol and pain killers at least 6 hours prior to treatment.

Please bring medications, supplements and herbs you are currently taking along with any recent lab work. You can request a copy from your provider.

Loose, comfortable clothing is always best for treatments, as it provides easy access to your knees and elbows and even greater chance for complete relaxation. If you are unable to wear loose clothing, sheets and blankets are always available to cover up, should you need to remove constricting clothing for your treatment.

Does it hurt?

The needles used are called “painless” needles because most of the time insertion cannot be felt. The sensation of qi arriving to the point is sometimes a slight tingle or dull ache and is considered therapeutic.

How often should I schedule appointments to get the highest value out of my treatments?

Acupuncture works cumulatively, and it is very rare that one treatment is all you will need to feel better. It is essential to get treatments close to each other at first because each treatment gains momentum on the last. I expect you to feel progressively better with each treatment. It is also important to schedule a session immediately if you ever start to feel yourself “backsliding,” and your next scheduled appointment isn’t for a couple of days or longer.

Each person responds differently to acupuncture, so we usually won’t know exactly how many treatments you will need until we’ve gone through a few sessions. Generally speaking though, we will be able to space treatments further and further apart as long as you keep steadily improving with each treatment. Maintenance sessions are often recommended every 4-6 weeks to keep your body in a healthy and balanced state.

Does Acupuncture have side effects?

Side effects are infrequent or mild, but they can occur. The most common side effects are explained below.

Feeling ‘spaced out’

If you feel lightheaded after your treatment, take a few minutes in the waiting room and drink water or have a snack before you drive.

Fatigue

It is possible to feel tired after acupuncture, as the body is rebalancing and healing. This is never a cause for concern, and the best thing to do is re-fuel with nourishing snacks, fresh water, and relaxation time. While most people notice a marked improvement in their symptoms following acupuncture, some feel worse before they start feeling better. This is sometimes referred to as a “healing crisis.” Acupuncture works to get you “unstuck,” and dormant physical issues can get stirred up in the process. Please ask for support and let me know if this comes up as part of your process.

Soreness

Body parts where acupuncture needles get inserted can feel sore after needles are removed. You also may experience muscle soreness away from the needling site if a trigger point was released during your treatment. Soreness from acupuncture typically dissipates within 24 hours. However, big trigger point releases can cause residual soreness that lasts a few days.

Bruising

Although less common than soreness, bruising can occur at the needling site. Bruises usually last slightly longer than soreness from an acupuncture needle. Still, they generally are not anything to worry about beyond the aesthetic inconvenience.

Emotional Release

It is very possible to cry during or after acupuncture. Along with the physical parts of you becoming “unstuck,” emotions become free-flowing as well. The emotional release that can happen in acupuncture is often unexpected, but it is generally a very positive experience and an indication that healing is taking place.

Does Insurance cover Acupuncture?

Most insurance companies are now covering Acupuncture. Please call or email me with your insurance card information to find out if your insurance will cover treatment. I will need your name, date of birth, insurance company name and and ID#. If coverage has not been verified before treatments begin, payment is due at the time of treatment. We can bill for those treatments once coverage is confirmed and give you a credit towards future co-pays.

What conditions can be treated?

The World Health Organization released a report in which a list of symptoms, diseases and conditions have been proven to be effectively treated by acupuncture through controlled clinical trials. This list does not include all other conditions that have shown therapeutic effects.

Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Biliary colic
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Dysmenorrhoea, primary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Headache
Hypertension, essential
Hypotension, primary
Induction of labour
Knee pain
Leukopenia
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
Postoperative pain
Renal colic
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sciatica
Sprain
Stroke
Tennis elbow