Frequently Asked Questions
What is acupuncture?
In Traditional Chinese medicine it is believed that the human body has more than 2,000 acupuncture points all connected by a system of energy pathways called meridians. Qi (pronounced chee) is the life force energy that flows through these meridians. When there is a healthy flow of qi then it is easy for the body to maintain good health. When there are blocks in the flow this leads to disease.
Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine in which thin, solid, metallic needles are used to penetrate the skin at specific pressure points. The practitioner may gently manipulate the needles by hand or use electric stimulation. Needling a pressure point stimulates the nervous system, telling the brain to release endorphins (pain relieving neurotransmitters) and it promotes blood circulation, reducing inflammation. Acupuncture is beneficial in treating all types of pain. It is also used to treat digestive, respiratory, gynecological, neurological and emotional issues.
What can I expect at the first new patient appointment?
The first new patient appointment is about 90 minutes. The session will begin with a full health assessment (including patient health history, current health complaints and symptoms, along with assessing other areas of well-being that may be contributing to the current complaint). We will also discuss your health goals and a treatment plan that will provide the best support. Following the assessment you will receive an acupuncture treatment. Additional therapies may be added such as Tui Na (medical massage), cupping, nutrition consultation or mindfulness exercises.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) works by treating the body as a whole. If one area is out of balance then over time this will create imbalance or illness in another area of the body. This is why we take the time to do an in-depth health assessment. Treating the root cause at the same time as addressing current symptoms will strengthen the overall health of your body and prevent injuries or illness from recurring.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
It is recommended that you eat at least 2-3 hours before your appointment. Also avoid caffeine at least 3-6 hours before your treatment, it allows for a more relaxing and healing session. Wear clothing that is loose and easily pulls up above your elbows and knees. For most treatments, you remain completely dressed. If we need to address an area on the back or hips then gowns and sheets are provided for draping when necessary.
How does acupuncture work?
In Chinese medicine there are specific energy pathways called meridians that are all connected to one another and flow throughout the body from head to toe and front to back. The energy that runs through these meridians is called qi (pronounced chee). It's our natural vital energy that helps move blood through the vessels and heal the body. Acupressure points are located along these meridians and are gently stimulated with acupuncture needles, massage, heat or cupping. When a pressure point is stimulated it sends a message along the nerve pathway to the brain and triggers the brain to release endorphins. These endorphins are our natural pain relievers. Stimulating pressure points also helps to promote better circulation, thus reducing inflammation and alleviating pain. When the body and mind are at rest and in alignment the immune system has an easier time fighting off pathogens. The body becomes more efficient at detoxing and eliminating waste, and we digest and absorb nutrients that better nourish our whole being.
Think of the meridians as a freeway system. When there is smooth flowing traffic along the freeway everyone gets to where they need to be easily and efficiently. If there is an accident, that traffic jam will cause a back-up on one or multiple freeways over time. This single traffic accident is now a blockage, creating issues and frustration for everyone at the site and may lead to other irritations or accidents elsewhere. This is similar to how the body works. Where there is stagnation of blood or energy then this will lead to disease (inflammation, pain, toxin build-up, etc.). Where there is free flow there is harmony and good health. Acupuncture helps to promote free flow of qi and blood.
What does acupuncture feel like?
When an acupuncture needle is placed in the body you may feel a sensation of heavy pressure, a light ache or maybe even tingling. This will happen when we have located an area of tension or stagnant energy. The practitioner will usually massage the area of the pressure point first to relax the muscles and allow for smooth and easy needle insertion. As the body begins to relax and circulation increases those feelings will begin to subside.
All acupuncture needles used in the clinic are packaged, sterile and disposable. Acupuncture needles are very fine, most of the gauges used during treatment are half the thickness of a sewing needle. You won’t feel most needles and the majority of pressure points are only being inserted 1/8 - 1/4 inch in depth. This is just enough to stimulate the nervous system.
How will I feel after my treatment?
Since acupuncture is stimulating endorphins and other neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine you will notice a feeling of calm and relaxation at the end of a treatment. It also helps to reduce muscle tension and promote circulation so you may also feel more clear-headed and energized. If your chief complaint is pain and/or lack of range of motion then you will feel more mobility in the joints and muscles with a significant reduction of pain. The treatment will continue to work as you go through your day and you may also notice that symptoms continue to get better over the next 24 - 48 hours. Many people say they have the best night’s sleep after their acupuncture sessions.
You are free to go about your regular day of work, exercise and other activities after a treatment. Drinking enough water throughout the day is also beneficial in helping your body flush out toxins and support healing.
How many treatments will I need?
This will differ for everyone and also depends on whether we are treating an acute or chronic health issue or injury. Most acute issues can be resolved in 2 - 4 treatments over a time period of 1-2 weeks and you may need a follow-up session. For a health issue that is chronic (going on consistently for a year or longer) you usually need to begin with a Corrective Care Plan first, which consists of 8-12 treatments over the span of 1-2 months. As the body heals and maintains then Preventative Care treatments are recommended 1-2 times per month for the following 3-6 months. This is something that will be discussed during your initial new-patient appointment.
Is acupuncture beneficial even if I don't have a specific issue or complaint?
Absolutely. Even though you may not have a specific health complaint there are still many conditions that create physical, mental, and emotional stress putting an extra burden on the immune system and nervous system making us susceptible to illness. Studies have shown that stress is the main cause of 30% of infertility problems; 550 million working days are lost every year due to stress-related absences from work; and about 20% of Americans admitting they are under constant stress, which is usually related to work, school, family, and anything that causes negative emotions.
Acupuncture is an amazing treatment for stress relief and immune support. Taking time to make your health a priority will ensure a great quality of life.
Can I do acupuncture if I am also seeing another practitioner for the same issue?
Yes. Combining acupuncture with other therapies such as massage, chiropractic or physical therapy can actually help speed up the healing process. For instance, acupuncture helps reduce mental & emotional stress and alleviates muscle tension, giving your body more time to heal and strengthen between appointments.
Will I need to take Chinese herbal supplements as well?
For quicker healing herbal supplements will help support your acupuncture treatments and provide the body nutrients from plants and minerals. It is also important to look at diet and begin incorporating beneficial foods to maintain your healthy results. Herbal supplementation will be discussed after your initial health assessment.
How does cupping work?
Cupping is a suction technique designed to pull toxin build-up from the body’s deeper tissues to the surface of the skin where it's easier for the body to eliminate toxins through the superficial capillary system. Cupping also helps to release muscle spasms and draws oxygen and nutrient filled blood into the muscles and tissues to help speed up the healing process. Cupping is therapeutic. It is also diagnostic. Cupping will help pin point where the pain is stemming from. The color under the cups identifies the source of the pain and the darker the color the more toxic the build-up in that area of tissues. Cupping also shows us the severity of the problem. When cupping an area of pain and discomfort, if no color comes up to the surface that tells us that the pain is related to a bone or nerve issue as opposed to toxin build up in the muscles and tissues.
The lighter the color, the less severe the blockage. Light pink or red will fade within 2-3 days. Darker purple on the surface means there is more severe stagnation and will take up to 7-10 days for the cupping marks to fade.
Cupping brings great relief to chronic pain, it also helps in alleviating chest congestion or cough, and is a great therapy to use at the onset of a cold to keep pathogens from going deeper into the lungs.
Does your clinic accept my health insurance?
We do not bill health insurance, although the practitioner is able to provide a 'Super Bill' for paid appointments that you can turn into your health insurance company for partial or full reimbursement. We suggest you call your insurance company ahead of time to see if they accept Super Bills and ask what percentage they reimburse and if you have a limit on treatments per year.
We are able to accept HSA & Flex spending cards. We also offer discounted wellness packages and a monthly Community Clinic to help keep costs affordable.
What is the Community Clinic?
The Community Wellness Clinic is offered one Saturday per month. It is an opportunity to come in for a 30-minute stress reliever and immune support appointment. These treatments are great for maintenance care or for patients who are moving out of Corrective Care and are looking for a more affordable option for preventative care. Please call for Community Clinic availability, appointments fill quickly.
Community clinic appointments are for acupuncture only. If you would like to include cupping, Tui Na or nutrition consulting with your acupuncture treatment, then a private 75-minute session must be scheduled.