Acupuncture Treatment  

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What should I expect on my first visit?

Acupuncture is no different than any other form of medical treatment. Upon the patient's first visit, the practitioner will record basic biographical information about the patient, and will then proceed with the diagnostic framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine, described as the four examinations. These include: observation, listening and smelling, questioning, and touching. Once the diagnosis is complete, the practitioner will discuss the treatment with the patient, and the patient will have an opportunity to ask questions - i.e. how many needles will be used, at which acupoints, possible duration of treatment, complimentary treatments such as herbal medicine, etc.

Wear loose fitting clothes. Most of the acu-points are from the knee down and from the elbow to the fingertips. Sometimes back treatments are preferred, in this case you will be draped or given a hospital gown for warmth and/or comfort. Feel free to ask any questions about the procedure or verbalize any reactions or sensation. When I receive acupuncture I like to make a sound upon insertion of the needle. This helps me give language to sensations I am not used to describing. Overall acupuncture is a relaxing experience, however in the beginning or upon insertion of the needle sensations can be stronger. The needles have to pass through layers that contain nerve cells, so their stimulation can occur. Sometimes people don't feel anything at all (which indicates a deficiency), but most feel something and that is better than feeling nothing. Needle retention is seldom uncomfortable, most people fall asleep, which is ok, especially because healing takes place when we are sleeping. Certain pulsations, connections or movements of energy may occur, this is normal an good, movement of vital energy is the aim of acupuncture, so trust your body to relax an let the energy flow. It is not recommended to move while the needles are in place, slight movements might not cause any discomfort, but walking to the bathroom is not a good idea (please empty your bladder before undergoing treatment). Duration of needle retention varies depending on certain factors, however the average time is 20-30 minutes.

Acupuncture FAQ

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a means of adjusting the body's life energy (chi or qi) through the insertion of fine needles into carefully selected acupuncture points along the meridians of the body. The needles, which have a rounded end rather than a sharp cutting one, are inserted into the points and are then manipulated with a gentle pumping action, by twirling or leaving in place for a few minutes. These motions stimulate the flow of energy and remove blockages so that the qi can be dispersed and regulated. When the qi is flowing properly throughout the body, the balance is restored and improved health results.

How does it work?

Athough many theories have been presented, there is still no easy answer as to exactly how acupuncture works. The "Gate Control" theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various "gates" to these areas.Since a majority of acupuncture points are either located near, or connected to neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to "shut the gate" to the sensation of pain. Other theories suggest that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic like substances such as endorphins and opiods which, when released into the body, relieve pain. One thing is certain, although we may not know precisely how it works, studies have shown that it does work for a large majority of people and conditions.

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

The answer to this question is no. While having a positive state of mind helps with any type of treatment, conventional or otherwise, it is not necessary to "believe" in acupuncture for it to work. This is evidenced not only through clinical study in "non-believers", but by the fact that animals and small children who cannot be instructed to "believe" receive relief through the use of acupuncture.

Does it hurt?

The sensation of receiving an acupuncture treatment can rarely be described as painful. Now that is not to say that it is devoid of sensation. But, generally the feeling is more of a tingling. Acupuncture needles have a doweled end and therefore do not cut the skin as regular injection needles do. Following treatment it is common for the patient to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, and/or exhileration.

Is it safe?

This is a very common question among those who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment. The answer relies on the skill of the practitioner. If he or she is unsure of what they are doing, it is certainly possible to inflict injury with an acupuncture needle. However, when practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe and there is no danger whatsoever. The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be overstated.

Are there any contraindications for acupuncture?

There are very few situations where acupuncture is not advised. These are the most common:

  • If the patient has a hemophilic condition
  • If the patient is pregnant - certain acupuncture points and needle manipulations should not be used during pregnancy
  • If the patient has a severe psychotic condition or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Are the needles clean?

Yes. Single use sterile needles are used. Before undergoing any acupuncture treatment, you should always ask the practitioner about their sterilization procedures. All registered acupuncturists are required by law to sterilize needles. It is in their own interest, as much as in the patient's, to use extreme caution. For this reason, some practitioners use disposable needles which can be discarded following the treatment of each patient. In cases where disposable needles are not used, the practitioner will have a sterilizer (called an autoclave) in the clinic, or may use hospital sterilization services.

What conditions does acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists approximately four dozen different conditions that can legitimately be treated by acupuncture. The most common uses for acupuncture in the West include: Pain Management, Asthma, Drug Abuse, Alcoholism, Smoking, Stroke, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Gynecological and Obstetric Problems, and Sexual Problems.For further information on the conditions, look at right column.

How many treatments will I need?

The total number of treatments required to effect change in a condition varies dependent upon the disease, and it's severity, the duration of the illness, the frequency of the treatments and the patient them self. Consultation with an experienced practitioner on you and your condition will offer the best guide for the length of treatment. However, as a rough guideline, the maximum benefit is usually obtained after approximately six to ten treatments at weekly intervals. Three more treatments at three month intervals followed by one or two occassional treatments may be recommended to prevent recurrence.

Can children recieve acupuncture?

Yes, children can receive acupuncture and often have excellent results with this treatment. However, in cases where the children are uneasy about the needles, a practitioner may choose to use an acupressure treatment (massage of the acupoints), as opposed to acupuncture.

Are there any side effects or complications?

Acupuncture is an extremely safe method of treatment, and as such, side effects and complications are extremely rare when treated by an experienced, licensed practitioner. However, a small number of patients do have reactions to the procedure which may include nausea, lightheadedness and fainting. As in any matter pertaining to health, any concerns should be discussed with the practitioner prior to treatment and following treatment to ensure maximum effectiveness.

  • wear loose fitting clothes
  • empty you bladder before treatment
  • ask questions
  • express your feelings
  • relax - breathe - sleep if you want
  • keep movements to a minimum


Is Acupuncture The Right Choice?

Conditions Treatable Through Acupuncture

Due to its holistic approach, acupuncture treats the whole person and not just the condition itself - in this view the two are inseparable.

In order to allow for a frame of reference for the Western mind, we will use the Western names for the wide range of illnesses and conditions that acupuncture can successfully treat. Keep in mind that in the view of the trained chinese practitioner, many of the concerns listed have a much wider scope, and may in fact be considered only symptoms of the true phyical condition:

Bone, Muscle or Joint Problemsincluding arthritis, backache, inflamed injured or strained muscles, sciatica

Cardiovascular Disorders including angina, high or low blood pressure, stroke, thrombosis

Childhood Illnesses including catarrhal conditions, colds, coughs, earache, skin problems, teething problems

Disorders of the Head area including facial paralysis, headaches, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, vertigo

  • Ears including deafness, ortitis media, tinnitus
  • Eyes including conjunctivitis, glaucoma
  • Mouth including gum and tooth problems, ulcers
  • Nose including chronic catarrh, nosebleeds, sinusitis
  • Throat including sore throat, tonsillitis

Endocrine problems including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism

Gastrointestinal disorders including consitpation, diarrhoea, gastritis, duodenal and gastric ulcers, vomitting

Gynecological and obstetric problems including menstrual issues such as amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, as an aid to labor, morning sickness, thrush

Infectious diseases including dysentery, hepatitis, influenza, measles, mumps, whooping cough

Liver and gall bladder disorders including gall bladder inflammation (cholecystitis), gallstones (cholelithiasis), liver enlargement

Mental and emotional disorders including addictions, depression, hysteria, insomnia, phobias

Respiratory disorders including asthma, bronchitis (acute and chronic), cough (chronic)

Sexual problems including frigidity, impotence, spermatorrhoea, sterility

Skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis

Urinary disorders including cystitis, incontinency, kidney stones, retained urination



Acupuncture treatment