General questions about Acupuncture 

• What is acupuncture and Oriental medicine?

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function. This is done by inserting sterilized, stainless-steel needles (that are as fine as a human hair) into specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Your practitioner will make a Chinese medical diagnosis based upon a thorough examination and consultation. The examination includes the assessment of the pulse and tongue. Once a diagnosis is made, your acupuncturist will choose the most appropriate acupuncture points for treatment.
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. They have been mapped out by the Chinese over a period of over 2000 years.

The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.


• How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.

The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.

Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity. Inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain.

The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility.

The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.

Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.


• How much does the normal acupuncture treatment cost?

The cost of acupuncture treatments varies from practitioner to practitioner. Please consult with local acupuncturists for exact prices. In general, treatments are similar in price to chiropractic treatments; generally fees range from $60-120 per session. The initial treatment is usually longer and more comprehensive. This first visit usually costs more. Most practitioners include other ancillary modalities within the treatment fee, including cupping, electro stimulation and moxibustion while others charge in an ala carte fashion.


• What are the most commonly treated ailments?


The most common ailments presented to an acupuncturist tend to be pain related conditions. However, as the public becomes more educated about the efficacies of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, they are seeking treatments for many complex conditions with good results; including the following:

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
• Sinusitis
• Sore throat
• Hay fever
• Earache
• Nerve deafness
• Ringing in the ears
• Dizziness
• Poor eyesight

Circulatory Disorders
• High blood pressure
• Angina pectoris
• Arteriosclerosis
• Anemia

Gastrointestinal Disorders
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Spastic colon
• Colitis
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Food allergies
• Ulcers
• Gastritis
• Abdominal bloating
• Hemorrhoids

Gynecological Genitourinary Disorders
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Irregular, heavy or painful menstruation
• Endometriosis
• Menopause
• Fibroids
• Chronic bladder infection
• Complications in pregnancy
• Morning sickness
• Kidney stones
• Impotence
• Infertility in men and women
• Sexual dysfunction

Immune Disorders
• Candida
• Chronic fatigue
• HIV and AIDS
• Epstein Barr virus
• Allergies
• Lupus
• MS
• Hepatitis

• Smoking cessation
• Drugs
• Alcohol

Emotional and Psychological Disorders
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Depression
• Stress

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
• Arthritis
• Neuralgia
• Sciatica
• Back pain
• Bursitis
• Tendonitis
• Stiff neck
• Bell’s palsy
• Trigeminal neuralgia
• Headaches and Migraines
• Stroke
• Cerebral palsy
• Polio
• Sprains
• Muscle spasms
• Shingles

Respiratory Disorders
• Asthma
• Emphysema
• Bronchitis
• Colds and flu's

• Chemotherapy/radiation side effects
• Diabetes
• Dermatological disorders
• Weight control


• Is acupuncture covered by insurance?


Many insurance companies now offer policies that cover acupuncture and related services performed by an acupuncturist. Check with your insurance company to find out.


• How do I choose an acupuncturist?


Acupuncture works! But your experience with acupuncture will depend largely on the acupuncture provider that you choose.

You want to find an acupuncturist that you click with. If you like and trust your practitioner, your encounter with acupuncture will be more positive.

You will also want to know about the acupuncturists training and experience and what to expect from the acupuncture treatment. The clearer you are about who it is that is treating you and exactly what the treatment entails, the more you will be able to relax during the acupuncture session and benefit from this ancient form of health care.

Determine your goals


Do you have a specific injury or complaint or do you want to try acupuncture to balance body, mind and spirit? Are you looking for a primary health care practitioner, or someone to work in conjunction with your current physician? Here are some questions that you should ask when choosing an acupuncturist…

Questions you should ask:
1. Where was he/she trained?
2. How long was the training?
3. How long has he/she been in practice?
4. What experience does he/she have in treating your specific ailment?

• How deep do the needles go?

Acupuncture points are located near or on the surface of the skin. Usually needles are inserted form ¼ to 1 inch in depth. Depth of insertion will depend on nature of the condition being treated, the patients' size, age, and constitution, and upon the acupuncturists' style or school.


• Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles.

While some people feel nothing at all; others experience a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin that can be followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling, numbness, traveling warmth, or heaviness. The needles are left in place for twenty to forty minutes. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.


• How many treatments will I need?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. A consultation with an experienced practitioner about you and your condition will offer the best guide for the length of treatment.
(What to Ask)

Typical treatments last from 20 to 60 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week.

Generally, acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment. For example, an acute sprain may require only one treatment, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several (or several dozen) treatments.

Positive results are generally seen after the first to fourth treatment. You will schedule your appointments further and further apart after you have achieved optimal response.
Many people see their acupuncturist only 2-4 times a year for a “tune up”.


• What are some other Oriental medicine techniques besides needle insertion?

Electro-Acupuncture is the use of small electrical currents through the acupuncture needles. Electro-stimulation is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance a treatment. Electro-acupuncture has been proven to decrease pain, accelerate tissue healing, and significantly reduce inflammation, edema and swelling.

Moxibustion is a technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to apply heat to an acupuncture point. It is used to treat certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a stick the size of a cigar, lit, and held over specific areas of the body. Moxa can also be placed onto the handle of an acupuncture needle, allowing deeper penetration of heat.

Cupping is a technique where a glass cup or bamboo jar is suctioned onto the body and allowed to sit for about ten minutes. This technique stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and greatly enhances an acupuncture or Electro-acupuncture treatment. Cupping is used for many conditions including; back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, common colds and influenza.

Tui Na is the traditional system of Chinese style physical therapy or massage. It is used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance treatments in a variety of musculo-skeletal conditions.


• What are the different styles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture originated in China but has spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe, and America. Different styles have developed over the centuries based on different opinions as to theory and technique.

Talk to your practitioner about his/her particular style and learn as much as possible about the treatment being proposed. While the basic theoretical principles of acupuncture remain the same, different styles of acupuncture differ greatly in technique and diagnosis. There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but you should know what you are getting into.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the most common form of acupuncture studied and practiced in the United States.
Auricular Acupuncture

Points in the ear correspond to areas of the body and to certain disharmonies. This system is commonly used for pain control and drug, alcohol, and nicotine addictions.

Medical Acupuncture

When a Western Medical Doctor performs Acupuncture; it is defined as Medical Acupuncture. Acupuncture requirements for Western doctors are generally more lenient than for non-MD's. If you decide to go to a Medical Doctor for acupuncture, choose a physician who is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, it requires a minimum of 200 hours of training for membership.

Medical doctors usually use sterilized, stainless-steel needles when the use acupuncture, just like all other acupuncturists, but also might use injections and even implants of gold and silver in their treatments.

Veterinary Acupuncture

Today, veterinary acupuncture is an acknowledged and respected field of medicine which requires formal training and certification in order to practice.

In most States, provinces and countries, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that, legally, may ONLY be performed by a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine.


• Are there risks or side effects to acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body.
While Acupuncture is an extremely safe form of physical medicine, there are contraindications and risks.

Some of the risks mentioned below are EXTREMELY RARE!

Precautions & Contraindications:

1.) It is contraindicated to needle the abdomen and lumbosacral areas of pregnant women
2.) Avoid blood vessels to prevent bleeding
3.) Points on the chest and back should be carefully needled to avoid injury to organs
1.) Bruising
2.) Fainting
3.) Muscle Spasms
4.) Bleeding
5.) Nerve Damage
6.) Punctured Lung
7.) Accidental Injury to organs (Brain, Spinal Cord, Heart, Liver, Spleen, Kidney)


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