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FAQ's: Basic Acupuncture

What about acupuncture?
What about commonly treated conditions?
What about acupuncture services?

How does acupuncture work?
What to expect in first visit?
What about the treatment?
What to expect after treatment?
What about flare-up?
How long should I take the treatment?
Is acupuncture safe?
What about side effects?
Does acupuncture hurt?

Is acupuncture right for me?
Will my insurance cover acupuncture?

Q: What about Acupuncture?

A: Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical problems. It is a system of healing that originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It has stood the test of time and is now commonly used throughout the world. Your body has a built in ability to regulate itself through many checks and balances in the nervous and hormonal systems. Acupuncture is able to tap into this power by stimulating specific points with hair-thin needles. There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by energy pathways called meridians. Stimulating these acupuncture points helps the energy flow more smoothly in the body and enables your body to function at its optimal potential. Often people find themselves to be calmer and centered after acupuncture. Western science has verified that acupuncture causes many documentable changes in the body. Acupuncture has been shown to trigger the release of pain-relieving endorphins in the body, mediate the inflammation process, regulate hormones, release muscle tension, and increase blood flow to specific areas of the body.

Q: What about Commonly Treated Conditions?

A: The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture's ability to treat over 200 commonly encountered clinical disorders. Among these are:
Image acupuncture for conditions Bellevue

Q: What about Acupuncture Services?

A: Acupuncture services include but not limited to acupuncture, electoral acupuncture, cupping, heat TDP lamp, plum blossom, Gua-Sha, moxibusion, Tui-Na, dietary advice, and etc.

Acupuncture: Insertion of special sterilized needles through the skin into the underlying tissues at specific points to stimulate the healing flow of Qi. The needles themselves are remarkably thin, about the width of a human hair (or smaller) and may produce a mild initial sensation upon entering the skin, followed by tingling, numbness or moving warmth. Patients may find the treatments extremely relaxing and often fall to sleep.

Electro-Acupuncture: Stimulation of acupuncture needles with a gentle electric current to circulate the flow of Qi. The amount of electrical power used is only a few microamperes, but, depending on the patient's physical condition, the frequency of currents can vary from 5 to 2000 Hz. Most patients find the procedure painless.

Cupping: A technique to relive symptoms with cups that form suction by heat or other device on the skin to promote and stimulate blood flow to certain parts of the body.

Heat TDP Lamp: A heat lamp that features a round metal plate coated with minerals consisting of 33 elements that are essential to the human body. When the mineral plate is heated, it emits a special band of electromagnetic waves that are absorbed by the human body and yield many therapeutic effects.

Plum Blossom (7-Star Hammer): A light tapping of an area of the body with a small, sterile hammer which has seven small needles.

Gua-Sha: Indirect burning on an acupoint over certain surface areas of skin using stick, string, or ball moxa to relieve symptoms.

Moxibustion (Moxa): A therapy that is useful in the treatment of blood stagnation in the channels or local qi. Cupping involves creating a slight vacuum that attaches a metal, wood, or glass jar to the skin surface. This vacuum produces pressure that encourages the flow of qui and blood in the area and stimulates your body's healing processes.

Tui Na and acupresser: An ancient massage and acupressure used to treat a wide variety of common disharmonies

Dietary Advice: Based on traditional Chinese Medical Theory

Q: How does Acupuncture Work?

A: Acupuncture corrects imbalances by stimulating specific points on the body. When stimulated, these points help the body's energy, or Qi (pronounced Chee), to flow smoothly. Qi travels though channels in the body like water flowing through a winding river. Acupuncture points are located on the channels, each having a precise healing action. Treatment will correct the imbalance and remove the impediments to the flow of qi. Healing occurs through personally tailored treatments to your specific condition. Modern acupuncture research is beginning to show how the treatment works with the body's own healing mechanisms. Using a type of brain scanner called an fMRI, scientists have shown that acupuncture works with the nervous system to reset the brain when it is stuck in an unhealthy pattern of pain and illness. This is a way of revering the body and mind to a healthy state. Healing also occurs at the place where the needle is inserted. The surrounding tissue actually grabs hold of the needle and expands. Some scientists believe this begins the replication and repair of the cells around the needle.

Q: What to Expect in First Visit?

A: Your first visit will last about ninety minutes, which will give you time to fill the forms; talk about both your immediate concern and your health history. You will be asked about the main issue that brings you to see the doctor, as well as about your digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and reproductive system, and just about every other aspect of your physiology. Your tongue, abdomen and pulse will also be assessed in the traditional Chinese manner. We will also do whatever other physical exams might be necessary, such as checking the range of motion of a painful joint. After the exam is finished, we will start the treatment by choosing which therapies are going to be the most beneficial for you.

Q: What about the Treatment?

A: Chinese medicine considers the whole person, not just one isolated symptom. When put together, the myriad of symptoms and signs you are experiencing reveal patterns of disharmony. Although treatment will focus on your chief complaint, your whole being must be considered in order to develop the most appropriate course of treatment. Chinese medicine is unique in that it appreciates that illnesses may be identical, but the persons suffering from them are individuals. During the treatment, needles are typically retained in the body for about 30 – 45 minutes. Soothing music will be played to help you relax during this time - many people even fall asleep during treatment! In addition to acupuncture, treatments may also include heat therapy, herbal prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and diet and lifestyle advice.

Q: What to Expect After Treatment?

A: Treatment effects may be immediate, delayed for a few hours or few days. They may last for a few hours on the first visit and then extend with each successive treatment. Individuals vary in their response to the treatment.

Q: What about Flare-up?

A: On rare occasions, one's original symptoms may briefly get worse, or "flare-up," after a treatment. A flare-up typically occurs later on the day of your treatment and should only last for a few hours. After a flare-up, your symptoms should begin to improve. In the long run, acupuncture does not make symptoms worse. In some conditions, the body must fully expel a pathogen in order for healing to occur. For example, if you have a cold, acupuncture will not get rid of the cold, but it can help accelerate the cold cycle so your body recovers faster. If you are fatigued and beginning to get a cold, acupuncture can help your body fight it off. In cases of chronic pain, your original pain may improve and then unmask less obvious pain in the surrounding areas.

Q: How Long Should I Take the Treatment?

A: As part of your first visit, you will receive a customized treatment plan detailing an appropriate course of treatment for your specific condition. In general, acute conditions of recent onset may only require one to three treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more treatments to achieve sustained results. Treatment for fertility follow specific protocols, which will be discussed with you at your first visit. The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to treat. For longstanding illnesses, weekly treatments may be required for several months in order to have a curative effect. For patients planning on undergoing Western treatment for fertility, it is recommended that acupuncture and/or herbal treatments be started approximately three months in advance of Western treatment. However, many patients don't learn of the benefits of Chinese medicine until they are already undergoing Western treatment. In that case, it is best to start acupuncture and/or herbs as soon as possible.

Once you initiate a healing process, it is important to follow through on treatments. The more consistent you are, the better the likelihood of results. The effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative. After you are feeling better, a few additional treatments may be recommended. In Chinese medicine, this is referred to as "solidifying the constitution." The goal is to further strengthen your body to prevent recurrence of the illness. Your body is most vulnerable following recovery from illness because it has expended much of its energy and internal resources in order to get better. It is therefore important to have a few treatments in order to prevent repeated or new illness. In general, when an illness recurs it is often more difficult to treat.

Q: Is Acupuncture Safe?

A: Yes. Acupuncture is very safe when done by a licensed acupuncturist. We use only solid, single use, disposable needles ensuring no risk of contamination. Acupuncture has a very low risk of side effects.

Q: What about Side Effects?

A: Side effects are rare, but may include the following: feeling lightheaded, dizziness, sleepiness, euphoria, nausea, slight bruising, residual muscle aches. Any of these side effects should only last a short time. Staying hydrated after your treatment will help to minimize these side effects, as will resting after your treatment. Any side effects should be reported at your next visit.

Q: Does Acupuncture Hurt?

A: Acupuncture needles are much thinner than a doctor's hypodermic needle, more like a pin than a needle really.Upon insertion there may be a slight prick like an insect bite. After the needle is in, there's a feeling of warmth and tingling. People usually find that acupuncture treatments are very relaxing.

Q: Is Acupuncture Right for Me?

A: If you are not sure if acupuncture is right for you, come in for a free consultation. We can discuss your condition and what treatment is the best course. You will have plenty of time to ask questions and decide if this is the right choice for you.

Q: Will My Insurance Cover Acupuncture?

A: Insurance companies are much more likely to cover acupuncture now than they have been in the past, due to increasing evidence that acupuncture works and is a very cost-effective modality. In particular, worker’s compensation and car insurance companies have been quite open to approving acupuncture for their clients. There is still a long way to go, however, before acupuncture is universally recognized by insurance companies. Federal government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid do not cover acupuncture across the board, although some program participants may qualify under their particular provider. Blue Cross/Blue Shield in some states will cover acupuncture performed by licensed acupuncturists.

The best thing to do is to call your insurance company and see if acupuncture is included in your benefits package. You also need to ask if your insurance company will cover acupuncture performed by any licensed acupuncturist, or if there are restrictions such as oversight by an M.D., etc. Keep in mind that the medical system in this country is in flux, and benefits may change as the advantages of acupuncture treatment are more widely recognized by insurance companies and providers.

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