TOP 7 QUESTIONS WE HEAR FROM PATIENTS
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a means of adjusting the body's life energy (chi or qi) through the insertion of fine needles into carefully selected acupuncture points along the meridians of the body. The needles, which have a rounded end rather than a sharp cutting one, are inserted into the points and are then manipulated with a gentle pumping action, by twirling or leaving in place for a few minutes. These motions stimulate the flow of energy and remove blockages so that the qi can be dispersed and regulated. When the qi is flowing properly throughout the body, the balance is restored and improved health results.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture has been shown to be extremely safe when given by a qualified and licensed acupuncturist. Risks include fainting, mild discomfort, bruising and possible infection. As for the latter two, because these are tiny, solid stainless steel needles, the risk of either bleeding or infection is lower with acupuncture than with venipuncture. Even for patients taking low molecular weight heparins, aspirin or NSAIDS, the risk of excess bleeding with acupuncture is very low.
Does it hurt?
The sensation of receiving an acupuncture treatment can rarely be described as painful. Now that is not to say that it is devoid of sensation. But, generally the feeling is more of a tingling. Acupuncture needles have a doweled end and therefore do not cut the skin as regular injection needles do. Following treatment it is common for the patient to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, and/or exhileration.
How many treatment will I need?
The total number of treatments required to effect change in a condition varies dependent upon the disease, and it's severity, the duration of the illness, the frequency of the treatments and the patient themself. Consultation with an experienced practitioner on you and your condition will offer the best guide for the length of treatment. However, as a rough guideline, the maximum benefit is usually obtained after approximately six treatments at weekly intervals. Three more treatments at three month intervals followed by one or two occassional treatments may be recommended to prevent recurrence.
Are there any side effects or complications?
As previously mentioned, acupuncture is an extremely safe method of treatment, and as such, side effects and complications are extremely rare when treated by an experienced, licensed practitioner. However, a small number of patients do have reactions to the procedure which may include nausea, lightheadedness and fainting. As in any matter pertaining to health, any concerns should be discussed with the practitioner prior to treatment and following treatment to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Are there any contraindications for acupuncture?
There are very few situations where acupuncture is not advised. These are the most common:
If the patient has a hemophilic condition
If the patient is pregnant - certain acupuncture points and needle manipulations should not be used during pregnancy
If the patient has a severe psychotic condition or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What are you doing with those needles? How do you know where to put them?
This is a really complex question! It took your practitioners 4 years of acupuncture school, and a year of internships to figure it out. It’s hard to condense all that experience into a simple answer. Our main goal is to help you feel your best. We choose our points to do that. For a more complex answer, we recommend you check out a book we have in our waiting room, called Why Did You Put That Needle There? by Andy Wegman. which answers a lot of commonly asked questions. It is a small book for a quick read. For those more interested in the deep intricacies of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, check out Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Both books can be purchased on Amazon.com.