What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture comes from me Latin words Acus Punctura which literally means "to puncture with a needle." These needles are very thin and are used to enhance the body's natural healing and pain relief capabilities.
How does it work?
The ancient explanation centers around the belief that there is a vital life force present in all living beings. The Chinese call this "Qi" (pronounced "chee".) It's said that all disease is an imbalance of Qi. Acupuncture is believed to help restore the proper movement of this energy throughout the body.
Modern explanations are based upon scientific research that demonstrates that certain compounds are produced or released in the body during acupuncture treatments. Some or these chemicals are natural painkillers such as endorphin. Other important chemicals known as "neurotransmitters" are also released, such as serotonin (responsible for mood regulation.)
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
In western medicine, acupuncture is best recognized for its role in pain management. It may be effective as the only treatment against pain, or as part of a program involving other approaches as well. Types of pain that seem to respond especially well to acupuncture include back, neck, and shoulder pain, sciatica, musculo-tendinous conditions like tennis elbow, and some types of headaches. Some forms of abdominal pain, pelvic and menstrual pain, and nerve pain may also respond.
Research also looks promising regarding the use or acupuncture to treat asthma and nausea. In 1997 this country's National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a statement on acupuncture and it's role in modern health care. It stated that there is good evidence to show that acupuncture does indeed work in the above-mentioned conditions. It concluded by declaring that "there is sufficient evidence...of acupuncture's value (0 expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value."
Who is qualified to perform acupuncture?
Practitioners from a number of different backgrounds may offer acupuncture. A physician acupuncturist has studied the techniques in addition to obtaining training and licensure in Western medicine. Non-physician acupuncturists are graduates of either schools of acupuncture or oriental medicine.
What are the chances that acupuncture can help me?
Acupuncture has helped many people who have not responded to conventional medical or surgical management but there is a tremendous difference in the response to acupuncture from patient to patient.
Some people notice an immediate improvement while others notice a change a day or two after treatment. Some patients are not helped at all. Occasionally, pain may temporarily worsen following a treatment. This is not cause for alarm or discouragement. This "flare up" is often followed by significant improvement. Each situation is evaluated on an individual basis and sometimes patience is required as different acupuncture approaches are tried, and the body takes time to respond.
How many treatments are required?
Both the number of treatments needed and the frequency varies from person to person. In general, complex or long standing conditions, such as pain of many years, will require one or two treatments a week for several months. Treatments will often be spaced increasingly further apart as response develops and becomes more enduring.
Does acupuncture hurt?
People experience acupuncture differently. Most feel only minimal pain as needles are placed; others feel no pain. Once the needles are in position, they should not be painful. If a needle is causing discomfort, ask that the needle be checked for repositioning.
After needles are placed you may feel tingling, warmth, dull ache, numbness, or heaviness in the area of the needles or in a distant part of the body. These needles are often connected to an electrical stimulator, which typically produces a comfortable tapping or buzzing sensation. Many people notice a generalized feeling of relaxation or well being during the treatment.
What are the possible side effects or complications?
As mentioned previously, there may be transient worsening of symptoms following an acupuncture session. This is not uncommon and usually indicates that your body is responding to the treatment.
Some people may feel deeply relaxed or mildly disoriented following treatment. This feeling passes within a short time. We recommend that you rest in the waiting area after Treatment, until you feel ready to leave.
People occasionally feel faint during acupuncture, especially at the start of the first treatment. Any time a needle is placed in the body, there is a risk of bleeding or infection. Usually you cannot see a mark where the needle was placed but occasionally, a small vessel under the skin may be pricked, resulting in a bruise.
Rarely, infections have occurred following acupuncture, however, this is highly unlikely given that only sterile, single use needles will be used during your treatments here. Extremely rare, but serious complications have also been reported involving puncture of the lung or another organ.
Alert your practitioner if you have a bleeding tendency, pacemaker, metal sensitivity, or are pregnant.
Are there any special instructions that I should follow on the day of treatment?
Following the suggestions below will enhance the effects of treatment:
- Do not eat an unusually large meal immediately before or after treatment.
- Avoid over exercise, sexual activity, and alcoholic beverages within six hours before or
- Plan some rest, or at least avoid having to work at top performance, after treatment,
especially after the first few visits.
- Continue to take prescription medications as directed by your regular doctor.
- Substance abuse and smoking will seriously interfere with acupuncture's effectiveness.
- Observe and keep track of your response to treatment, so that we can better work with
you to optimize your therapy.
Does health insurance cover acupuncture?
Policies differ among insurance companies. Check with your insurance company for specifics regarding your coverage.