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Questions About Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. Some acupuncture patients are initially wary of the claim that acupuncture doesn’t hurt but they soon discover that the experience is quite pleasurable.

How long is each treatment?

An initial consultation and treatment will be 60-90 minutes and all subsequent visits will be 30-60 minutes depending on the disorder being treated. This is because certain disorders only require 30 minutes, but certain chronic, long-standing and musculoskeletal disorders require more time to treat.

What can I expect from a treatment?

Your visit starts with a complete health history, including numerous questions about your primary health complaint as well as more general health issues. The physical exam can include taking vital signs as well as detailed examination of the pulse and tongue, abdominal palpation and facial diagnosis. When a diagnosis is reached, you will be placed in a comfortable position to insert the needles. After the needles are inserted, you will relax in the treatment room for 15 to 30 minutes. Then return and take out the needles and the treatment is finished.

How many treatments do I need and how often?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person and is based on the severity and duration of the symptoms. For example, severe or chronic conditions, one or two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. On the other hand, mild or acute problems, usually fewer visits are required. Health maintenance often only requires one treatment per month or even four sessions a year may be all that is necessary. Every individual person is different and will respond uniquely to acupuncture, based on your particular lifestyle, diet, exercise, work, and sleep habits. Emotional, environmental and genetic factors will also play a role and are a necessary consideration.

Are the needles sterile and safe?

State and federal laws require only the use of needles that are manufactured, packaged, and shipped in a sterile environment. The needles are used only once, and then safely discarded.

What are the possible side effects?

When acupuncture is practiced correctly, there may only be minor or short lastly side effects, which may include localized discomfort or bruising at the insertion site. In rare situations, more serious side effects may include infection, dizziness, fainting, broken needles and internal organ damage. It is quite common with the first couple of treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation, mild discomfort 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. Occasionally the original symptoms being treated 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 healing is occurring.

Can children receive Acupuncture?

Yes. Generally speaking children do well with acupuncture because their energy is very responsive. As a result their course of treatment may be shorter and fewer needles required.

Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of acupuncture treatment?

Yes, at least until careful discussion is had with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment – because it does not seem to be working or because the side effects are unacceptable. DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance.

How do you decide when you need an acupuncture treatment?

When the initial stage of treatment is completed, starting to space the treatments two to four weeks apart is a good start for health maintenance and preventative medicine while keeping in mind the ongoing role of exercise, meditation and proper diet.

Do I Have to Believe in Acupuncture For It To Work?

No. A positive attitude towards wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude will not block the treatment results.