Frequently Asked Questions

How old is Chinese Medicine?

Chinese medicine has been used for over 3,000 years. It is comprised of a very extensive body of medical literature that includes medical theory, approaches to diagnosis, and methods of treatment. Chinese medicine is supported by thousands of years of case histories that validate its effectiveness.

How does it work?

Chinese medicine uses tiny needles to access and activate the body’s built in healing mechanism. Acupuncture promotes blood flow, nervous system signaling, and other mechanisms still not well understood by western science. Through these mechanisms the body is able to bring itself back into a state of functional balance known as homeostasis. This is the state of optimum functioning, which we call “wellness.”

What are the needles like?

Acupuncture needles are solid, flexible, and very fine; they can literally be bent with your pinky. The mention of needles often brings back painful memories of the needles that were used to give us injections as children. Those needles were stiff and probably had a large diameter. Additionally, the tip of injection type needles is cut at an angle, like a knife, which can cause a painful sensation as it cuts through tissues. Acupuncture needles don’t “cut” tissues but gently push them to the side. This creates a different sensation than what one might ordinarily associate with the insertion of a needle.

US FDA Regulation of Acupuncture Needles

In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed the experimental status tag on acupuncture needles. The FDA reclassified acupuncture needles, regulating them in the same way it regulates medical devices such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture needles must now be manufactured according to single-use standards of sterility.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is rarely described as painful. People experience the needling sensation differently, most often describing their sensations as a feeling of pressure, or an achy or tingling sensation. If any unpleasant sensation is experienced during insertion, it is often compared to a mosquito bite. This sensation typically disappears very quickly; however, any persistent discomfort can be quickly adjusted. Once the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energetic and biochemical responses in your body in order to balance it. I take great care to make my patients very comfortable so that they can relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Many people even fall asleep during treatment. Following treatment it is common to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation and calm.

Do I have to believe in it for it to work?

No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is even used successfully on animals and children. They do not understand or believe in the process yet they get better anyway. (Ask me about my dog story!) Of course a positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture (or to feel it working) for it to work.

Since positive expectations and belief in a particular therapy help to increase therapeutic results, I encourage you to raise any concerns or doubts you may have about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’d like to help you to better understand acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine so that you may have the most positive healing experience possible. You are invited to contact us today, and you will receive a prompt, personal response to any questions or comments.

Do you use herbs?

Yes. I have extensive training in the safe use of herbal medicine (aka botanical medicine) and frequently use herbal formulas to support an acupuncture treatment. In many instances herbal medicine is actually a more effective form of treatment than acupuncture.

How do herbs differ from western medicine?

Chinese herbal formulas tend to be much gentler than western medicines. They work to not only help relieve symptoms, but to help the body return to a state of balance. During the treatment phase, as the body moves toward equilibrium the herbal formula is often modified to meet the changing needs of the body. Once equilibrium has been reached the herbal medicine is discontinued. However, though the treatment phase is complete, many people opt to take small doses of herbs in order to maintain their health going forward.

Can I take Chinese herbs when I am on medication?

It depends on the medications you are taking. This would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

How quickly can I expect to feel better?

In general, I tell my patients they should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture in 2-3 treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve. Chronic conditions may take longer to obtain a lasting effect as the body has been out of balance for a longer time. These long term health conditions may take many treatments to help resolve.

How often should I be treated?

The answer to this question depends on the specific nature of the complaint. In general, however, I typically like to treat acute, painful conditions 2-3 times per week for the first couple of weeks, after which the condition is often resolved or greatly minimized. In cases of chronic pain or internal dysfunction I like to treat 2-3 times in the first couple of weeks to establish some momentum, after which the frequency drops to once per week, and later, once per month or less. The benefits of each treatment tend to last longer and longer with each successive treatment. Consequently, what typically happens is that my patients start to need to see me less and less, and after a while they just come periodically for maintenance.

Does acupuncture always help?

No, but it usually has at least some effect. If you do not feel any benefit after 3-5 treatments, then acupuncture may not be the appropriate type of treatment for you, or we may need to combine it with Chinese herbal medicine for greater effect.

What should I wear for the treatment?

Just wear loose fitting clothes that can be easily rolled up above your elbows and knees.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Some insurance does. You need to check with your insurance provider and ask whether your specific policy covers acupuncture. If your insurance does cover acupuncture treatment our office will make a follow-up call to your insurance company to find out more details. Once we have verified your coverage we can discuss alternate payment arrangements with you. Until that time, however, we will require payment in full at the time of service. If you wish to pursue reimbursement from your insurance company on your own, our office will give you a receipt you can submit to your insurance company to attempt reimbursement.

Comments are closed.