Frequently Asked Questions
When performed by a qualified and well-trained practitioner, acupuncture is one of the safest treatment options available today. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body at specific points intending to facilitate it’s own healing process. It is a natural therapy with virtually no negative side effects (although, you may experience positive ones!). It is designed to reverse and/or prevent the progression of pain and/or disease. This may benefit those who have chronic pain or illnesses, an acute injury, are taking medications (to reduce or possibly eliminate the need), are avoiding having to take medications, or would like a boost in health and overall well-being. Please read our acupuncture page for more information.
Yes, of course. Combining acupuncture with chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy or any other related modality definitely has its benefits. You don't have to choose just one. This is a powerful system of healing that complements "conventional" treatment as well. The two systems of medicine work in very different ways and each has its place. Using both Eastern and Western medicine together is a big step towards true integrative healthcare. As always, please speak with your primary care physician regarding any concerns that you may have.
Due to the nature of the medicine, the typical visit takes more time than what you may be used to with your M.D. Your first visit is always longer than subsequent treatments. It may take up to 75 min., while regular treatments are closer to 45 min. We begin with a comprehensive medical history and an in-depth analysis of your condition.
You will be asked a wide range of questions relating to many aspects of your health. Questions are asked regarding your physical symptoms, emotions, daily routine, diet, levels of activity, sleep patterns, bowel/urinary function and more. There may be some questions that are asked that you may not think are relevant to your chief complaint, however, since Chinese medicine is "whole body" medicine, what you may not think is important, is actually an important part of the "big picture."
During your physical evaluation, you will notice that attention is paid to inspecting the tongue and taking the pulse. These observations are an essential part of the diagnostic process in the assessment of your state of health.
When people think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles (the needles used when drawing blood or receiving a vaccination) and immediately associate them with pain. Most are put off by the thought of trying acupuncture for the first time because of their fear of the needles. Acupuncture needles are not at all like hypodermic needles. They are very fine (25-50x's thinner than hypodermic needles) and they are often described as being not much thicker than a human hair. The needles are also very sharp, which is what contributes to the needle insertion being usually completely painless (although occasionally you do feel something).
Typically, (depending on what is being treated and the needle technique involved), you may feel a brief (and mild), ache, heaviness, ’tingling sensation’, numbness or warmth at the needle site. This is considered the "Acupuncture" sensation and is totally normal. In fact, we want you to feel sometimes this sensation during your treatment. By and large, patients describe the initial sensations as fleeting and the long term sensations as deeply relaxing. After insertion, most patients just relax and often fall asleep for the remainder of the session and report a sense of renewal and ease at the conclusion of the treatment. The needles are kept in for 20 minutes while you lay on a comfortable, massage table in a private room with relaxing music.
Sometimes, a patient’s symptoms may slightly increase in intensity or duration initially, however, this is a short-lived phenomenon, it is not common and will subside as improvements become evident. Cumulative and significant signs of progress will likely appear after each treatment.
The truth is, it depends on the condition. Each individual case is unique and courses of treatment will vary. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a very powerful system of healing which creates cumulative health benefits that are observed over a course of time/treatments. While it is very common to see immediate improvements, it is essential to allow the body proper time to heal.
Acute conditions often have recent or sudden onsets and can involve severe pain or intense symptoms. The treatment course for acute symptoms usually lasts 2 to 8 treatments. Initially, these treatments may need to be as frequent as 2x's per week for the most desirable results.
Chronic conditions often persist for a long period of time or are constantly recurring. These symptoms are rooted within a mildly to seriously compromised constitution. The treatment course for chronic illness generally involves treatments 1x per week for three months (or more, depending). Herbal medicine and/or supplements are also taken for a longer period of time as well.
Maintenance treatments are provided to help prevent disease from manifesting. Once you complete a course of treatment, it is still beneficial to come in for occasional maintenance visits.
While many conditions and symptoms do not return once treatment has ended, others are more stubborn, or may reoccur after periods of unusual stress. Receiving treatment at this time can quickly put the body back on track towards optimal health before allowing the condition to return. Many patients also return when he/she is feeling "under the weather," run-down, or need an "energy boost."
Make sure to eat something an hour or two before your appointment (don’t come in on an empty stomach). Do not have any alcohol prior to your treatment. Please let us know if you are pregnant (or think you might be), have a pacemaker, or are taking any blood thinners.
Yes! We are very knowledgeable about proper treatment approaches during pregnancy. Acupuncture is safe for pregnant women and will even provide many benefits for the health of mom and baby.
Commit to a full course of treatment - Acupuncture has a cumulative effect and in order to get better and stay better, it's important to be consistent.
Pay attention to your day-to-day health - Keep track of what is going on with your body everyday. It may be difficult to do this at first, but pay attention to the symptoms you are having and/or not having. Before you know it, you will be noticing subtle changes. Doing this will help your practitioner better treat you and your treatments will be more refined. Relax - I know... I know... easier said than done. We live in a very active, busy and often pressured society; it is hard to maintain any kind of balance between activity and relaxation without making a conscious and consistent effort to slow down sometimes. Find something that is calming that you enjoy doing. This can be meditating, yoga/qi gong, listening to music, cooking, reading, gardening, etc. People tend to lose sight of the importance of this in daily life.
Exercise - Problems occur when our energy or blood circulation is stagnant in the body. One cause of this is from infrequent or inadequate activity. Regular exercise can aid in the healing process, but is also pertinent in cardiovascular health and overall well-being.
Commit to making lifestyles adjustments as suggested - While receiving regular acupuncture treatments, you will notice that your practitioner may have suggested things like avoiding certain foods, increasing certain activities, adjusting your sleep schedule, eliminating daily stressors, etc. Sticking with what he/she tells you will greatly reinforce the effects of your treatments - even if it is tough to do.
Herbs are prescribed with a focus restoring balance by nourishing the body to treat a particular disease or medical condition. Herbs are generally gentle and natural and therefore often require a few days to demonstrate their full effect. Chinese herbal remedies may be prescribed in raw form, granules, concentrated capsules or tea pills.
When herbs are prescribed by a well-trained and well-educated practitioner, Chinese herbs are very effective and safe. Careful attention is always paid to dosage, combination of herbs, as well as, any known drug-herb interactions.