Acupuncture FAQ

How old is Chinese medicine?

The oldest text of medical knowledge is the “Neijing Suwen” or “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine”. The Yellow Emperor, Huangdi, is a legendary Chinese sovereign who reigned from 2697 – 2597 BCE. He is regarded as the founder of Chinese civilization. The “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine” is an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental source for Chinese medicine.

How does it work?

In the traditional Chinese understanding, Qi or vital energy flows through the body along pathways (meridians) that traverse the body both externally and internally. Points exist along these pathways that can influence the body’s functions at the opposite ends of these same pathways. Needles are used to stimulate these points which helps nurture the body back to health by resolving  imbalances along these meridians..

One western scientific theory states that when an abnormal condition occurs in an internal organ, alterations take place in the skin and muscles related to that organ by means of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system extending through the internal organs, skin, subcutaneous tissues and muscles, constantly transmit information about the physical condition to the spinal cord and the brain. These impulses set up a reflex action that cause symptoms of internal organ’s disorders to manifest themselves on the surface area as spasm, contraction, tightness or lumping of the muscles, discolouration, dryness or oiliness of the skin, etc. This phenomena is called Viseral-Cutanous Reflex. At the same time, this intimate relation can exert the reverse effects. Stimulation of the skin and muscles can cause dilation or contraction of the vessels to change the blood and lymph flow to the internal organs or activate the endocrine and immune system. This phase is called Cutanous-Viseral Reflex.  According to this theory, acupuncture acts as an effective stimulation of these reflexes.

What are the needles like?

Acupuncture needles are solid, filiform needles and are made of stainless steel. They do not have a cutting edge like hypodermic needles and so insertion is basically painless. They are small and hair-thin and can literally be bent with your pinky.

Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection. We use a needle once, then dispose of it.

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 as it does 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?

People experience the needling sensation differently. There are different styles of needling. I needle in Japanese style which says to gently insert the needle under the skin, and the Qi will rise to the needle. Acupuncture needles are rarely described as painful, and can be quickly adjusted if the patient feel’s any discomfort. If any unpleasant sensation is experienced during insertion, it is often compared to a mosquito bite and disappears very quickly. Once the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild “Qi” sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energy and biochemical responses in your body in order to balance it. Often people describe their sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. 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 acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is used successfully on animals and children. They do not understand or believe in the process yet they have positive outcomes. Of course, a positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture 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 would 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 me  and I will personally respond to any questions or comments promptly.

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. If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take additional treatments to help resolve.

How often should I be treated?

Typically I treat patients once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, 2 treatments per week for the first couple of weeks may be required. The benefits of an acupuncture treatment tends to last longer as you receive additional treatments. What typically happens is that my patients start to need to see me less and less, so after a while they come periodically for maintenance.

Does acupuncture always help?

No, but it usually does. If you do not feel any benefit after 3-5 treatments, then acupuncture may not work for you.

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?

Want to know if your insurance plan has acupuncture benefits? We can help. Contact our office and we’ll be happy to find out if your plan includes acupuncture benefits.  If it does, we will also find out if there are any restrictions, exclusions and/or limitations in your policy regarding your acupuncture coverage We currently bill Out-of-Network for all health insurance.