Your questions, answered.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT LIKE?
A typical first time visit lasts 60-90 minutes were detailed patient history, as related to main complaint and general health and life style information is obtained. Information is obtained through questioning, abdominal or meridian palpation (no pelvic exam), and Chinese pulse and tongue examination. A typical follow up acupuncture treatments lasts 40-60 minutes and include signs and symptoms reassessment. Most treatments are while laying down on a treatment table either prone (face down) or supine (face up), however, it is also common to treat patients laying on the side or while seating on a chair. Occasionally a patient may be asked to stand, bend, walk or move to facilitate in the treatment. Needle retention is usually 20 minutes long, but may vary. Other modalities such as Tuina (Chinese Medical Massage), Qi gong exercise, Cupping and/or heat therapy may be integrated as needed.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
Acupuncture is considered a therapy which implies a course of treatments. Traditionally, one course is considered 10 consecutive treatments (daily in China), however, in the Western world and due to the current economy treatments tend to be fewer and farther in apart. The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and periodic visits are recommended for health maintenance.
ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
It is common for symptoms to get exasperated after treatment and before relief is achieved. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow through the body that are essential for health. This Energy, also known as Qi is flowing through 14 main Meridians (channels) and the acupuncture points located along those channels act as portholes to access the Qi within. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. While inserting needles at specific acupuncture points will reestablish the regular flow. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release endorphins and serotonin which inhibit pain, and other chemicals which regulate endocrine function, increase circulation, and enhance immune function. This theory is supported by the basic research work which has shown acupuncture’s effect on ACTH, insulin, thyroid hormones, growth stimulating hormone, beta-endorphin, white blood cell production and plasma cholesterol levels. It is also believed that Acupuncture may work on an electromagnetic bio-information system. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as support adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. According to NIH “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. (Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement 1997 Nov 3-5; 15(5):9.) Furthermore, acupuncture can help to reduce or eliminate the need for medications for many conditions including narcotics and other pain-relievers, but a board certified physicians must always be consulted in such instances.
Follow Up: $75