If you’ve never visited a Licensed Acupuncturist before, you’re bound to have lots of questions or concerns. Below, you’ll find a list of several frequently asked questions from my patients. Connect with me today for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture has been used as an effective mode of medical treatment for thousands of years. It is based on the concept of qi (pronounced “chee”), which is life force, or energy. Qi may take different forms, but the qi we talk about frequently in acupuncture flows through the body along channels (or meridians). When the qi and blood become tired or blocked, pain and other symptoms may arise. The ancient Chinese classic Huang Di Nei Jing explains, “If there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is pain, there is lack of free flow”.
Acupuncture needles manipulate the movement of qi and has the ability to bring the qi and the channels in which they flow into balance. They encourage the “free flow” of qi mentioned above. When the body is in balance, it works efficiently and effectively, and the mind, body, and spirit thrive.
What can I expect during my intake appointment?
During your first appointment (the intake), you and the acupuncturist will have a detailed conversation about how you would like acupuncture to support you, as well as your health history and other questions and concerns. This is followed by an acupuncture treatment (see the following question). The intake and treatment last up to 90 minutes. In order to get the most out of your treatment, please complete the consent and intake forms prior to your appointment.
What can I expect during an acupuncture session?
Follow up acupuncture sessions are up to one hour long. The acupuncturist will feel your pulse and look at your tongue. These are traditional methods of garnering information about how your body systems work, and they give the acupuncturist information that is used to determine a Chinese medical diagnosis. This helps the acupuncturist determine where to place the needles.
During the treatment, you will lay on a massage table. The acupuncturist will place needles in acupuncture points on the body. Once the needles are in, you will relax on the table for about 20-30 minutes. This is when the needles do their work moving qi. It is common for people to fall asleep or to feel deeply relaxed like they just had a massage or a yoga class. The acupuncturist uses sheets to drape over your body to protect your privacy. You can also wear, or bring with you, comfortable loose-fitting clothing such as gym shorts and a t-shirt.
It is recommended that you drink plenty of water before and after an acupuncture treatment, and that you do not arrive on an empty stomach.
Do needles hurt?
Acupuncture needles are filiform (not hollow, like a syringe). They are very thin (some are not much thicker than a strand of hair). You may feel a pinch or a prick when the acupuncture needle is inserted, or you may feel nothing. Once the needle is inserted, most people no longer notice it is there. If a needle is uncomfortable, please let the acupuncturist know so that she may remove or adjust it.
Where do the needles go?
While there are acupuncture points and meridians (pathways the energy follows) all over the body, the areas I tend to needle most commonly are the arms and hands, the lower legs and feet, the back, the abdomen, and outer ears. I welcome feedback about any areas that you do not want to be needled.
What other therapies may be used?
Here is a list of other therapies or techniques I may use:
Cupping – Silicone or glass suction cups are placed on the body, which are either left in one place for several minutes or slid along the surface of the skin to promote circulation. This may leave a red mark that looks similar to a bruise for a few days. You may have seen these marks on Olympic athletes. Cupping helps move stagnant blood and qi that causes pain, and helps circulate the flow of healthy blood and qi to heal the area.
Gua sha – Similar to cupping, gua sha helps move blood and qi that leads to pain, and encourages healthy circulation. A smooth utensil similar to a rubber spatula is used by pressing it against the skin and rubbing. This can also leave a red mark that will go away within several days.
Electrical stimulation (“e-stim”) – Small clips are placed on the needle, which are attached to a handheld, battery powered e-stim machine. Very low levels of electric current flow to the needles and encourage the flow of blood and qi to an area. You may feel a dull buzzing sensation in the area.
Chinese herbs – Traditionally, acupuncture and Chinese herbs go hand in hand. Adding herbs to your treatment plan can improve progress. Herbs are generally taken daily and are in the form of either a capsule or a tea. Like acupuncture, Chinese herbs help the blood and qi of the body flow smoothly, and address underlying causes of pain and imbalance. It is not required that you take herbs while in acupuncture treatment, and it is up to your discretion to agree to or decline an herbal prescription. Herbs are an additional cost.
I often also make lifestyle and dietary recommendations as appropriate.
How often should I expect to receive acupuncture treatment?
Each patient is unique and I cannot determine a treatment plan without an in-depth intake session. Patients in extreme pain may be best served by having 2-3 acupuncture treatments per week. Other patients not in extreme pain may find that weekly treatments are adequate. Patients seeking support with fertility most often come in for treatment weekly. I will share with you my treatment frequency recommendation with you during your intake appointment.
What if I am uncomfortable with acupuncture needles?
This is YOUR acupuncture treatment. I will not insert needles anywhere you are not comfortable. I encourage people to tell me if they have a fear of needles. This is not uncommon and I take time to make sure you are comfortable with your treatment. Although it is common to place needles in the area of pain, it is not the only way. For example, I may insert a small needle in your hand or foot to address a headache.
What does acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is a complete system of medicine and in that sense, it can be used to effectively treat a wide variety of aches, pains, symptoms, and disease. It can also be used as a vital tool to complement Western medical treatments. Acupuncture can be used as an important part of an overall wellness and prevention plan to keep the body and mind in balance and thriving. Acupuncture is non-invasive and has little or no adverse side effects. In my experience, acupuncture may support people experiencing the following conditions (but is not limited to):
Pain - migraines/headaches, pain from injury, issues with the musculoskeletal system, pain from modern life (commonly showing up as back, neck, shoulder, and/or hip pain), arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica
Fertility – Supporting fertility for natural conception, IUI, IVF, and egg freezing; pregnancy (labor induction, breech presentation, nausea, aches and pains, edema) and post-partum (recovery from labor and delivery, regulation of hormones, breastmilk production, aches and pains)
Menstrual and women’s health issues – Heavy, painful, and/or irregular periods; sexual dysfunction; hot flashes; menopause; premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Digestive System – Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Acid Reflux; Heartburn; Indigestion; Chronic Constipation, Diarrhea, and/or Vomiting; Bloating
Respiratory System – Sinusitis, Rhinitis, Allergies, Asthma, Common Cold
Immune System – Frequent common colds and other illness
Cancer support, including treatment to help reduce the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy
Emotional support – Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Neurosis
Support for Addictions – To alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food and others
Acupuncture can be an important part of self-care and stress management. When qi flows freely we are better able to navigate our emotions, become more self-aware, and are less likely to get “stuck” in our habitual thought and emotional patterns.
Do you take insurance?
I am currently not in network with any insurance plans. Some patients have been successful getting reimbursed for acupuncture expenses by their health insurance provider. I can provide you with a superbill for this purpose upon your request. You are welcome to use your HSA or FSA card for your acupuncture expenses.