What should I expect at my first treatment?
During your first office visit, the acupuncturist will talk to you at length about your health condition, lifestyle and behavior. You should expect to be at the clinic for 1.5 to 2 hours. The acupuncturist will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviors that may contribute to your condition. Chinese medical practitioners ask a lot of questions in a lot of detail because our medicine is based on really getting to know a person's underlying constitution as well as their symptoms in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. This is why you may come in to our office for menstrual pain and your practitioner will ask you about your digestion. Bear with us! In this medicine, everything is interrelated, and no detail is too much detail! The more in tune with your body you are, the more effective your treatments will be. After your intake, the practitioner will perform a simple acupuncture treatment. She will also discuss your treatment plan with you and prescribe herbs, if necessary.
What does acupuncture feel like? Does it hurt?
An acupuncture treatment feels different for everybody: there is no right or wrong way to receive acupuncture. When we think of needles, we usually think about the ones our doctors use to do a blood draw, or give us a shot. Eek! Nobody likes those! Acupuncture needles are in a whole different league. They are extremely fine, about the size of a hair, literally!
Acupuncture itself can be full of sensations that we are not used to. Some people report feeling a warmth around the points, buzzing, fullness, distention, or general movements throughout their bodies. Some don't feel much at all, some feel strong sensations. Some feel more emotionally, some more physically. People feel different things on different days. Acupuncture should not hurt, although you may feel a small sensation at the insertion of some needles. Communication with your practitioner is key: if you are uncomfortable at any time during your treatment, tell your practitioner immediately and she will make adjustments to make your experience a positive one. After your treatment you may feel energized, or more often, many people feel a deep sense of relaxation. This is one of the few times in our busy lives when you are allowed to just stop, and BE.
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the the world. Practiced in China for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is only in the last three decades that it has become popular in the United States.
Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by twenty pathways. These pathways, or meridians, conduct energy, or Qi, between the surface of the body and its internal organs. According to Chinese medical scholars, acupuncture works by affecting the movement and amount of qi in the body.
Modern Western medical research has shown that acupuncture works by allowing the body to release endorphins, natural pain killers that help reduce pain, stress and help control regulatory systems in the body. In the late 1970's, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to treat nearly four dozen common ailments. In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institute of Health found that acupuncture is useful to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.
Ultimately, your body knows how to be well. It is through asking detailed questions and prescribing acupuncture and herbal medicine that your practitioner detects the root of the imbalance and begins the process of reminding your body back into a state of wellness.
What to wear?
Wear warm, comfortable, loose clothing. The practitioner will probably need access to your hands and feet, as well as points on your shins, forearms, and possibly your torso, so loose pants or shorts work well. Gowns are available if necessary.
After my treatment
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours, or even develop after two to three days. In general, most patients start feeling the benefits of acupuncture after 2-3 treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after one treatment and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve. Chronic health concerns may take many treatments to resolve. Acupuncture has a cumulative effect, so each treatment will build upon the other. After each visit, you are encouraged to take your time leaving the office and don't hesitate to sit and relax for a while.
On rare occasions, one's original symptoms may be worse, or "flare up", after a treatment. A flare-up typically occurs later on the day of your treatment and should last for only 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. So make an appointment as soon as you start to feel the beginning of a cold. In cases of chronic pain, your original pain may improve and then unmask less obvious pain in the surrounding areas.
How many treatments will I need?
This question has no exact answer, because everyone's bodies are so different. As a rule of thumb, acute conditions tend to resolve more quickly than a chronic or degenerative condition that has been evolving over many years. If this imbalance has taken 20 years to get where it is today, then most likely, it will take some time to get your body back to a state of wellness. Chinese medicine may not represent a "quick fix", but you may be surprised to find that it can provide you with simple tools with which you can make lasting changes for a long and healthy life. Generally, even if your condition does not simply go away after the first treatment, you will still see some changes over the course of 6-8 weeks. These changes may be a decrease of symptoms, or you may find that you notice changes in your energy level, quality of sleep, or amount of pain. Acupuncture has a cumulative effect: this means that the more regularly you receive acupuncture, the longer the effects of each treatment tend to last.
Commonly treated conditions
- Arthritis, Tendonitis, Joint Pain
- Asthma & Allergies
- Bladder and Kidney Infections
- Cardiac Palpitations (Irregular Heartbeat)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Common Cold & Influenza
- Degenerative Disc Disorders
- Diet, Nutrition and Weight Control
- Headaches & Migraines
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Indigestion, Gas, Bloating, Constipation
- Menopausal Symptoms
- Musculoskeletal Pain
- PMS & Menstrual Irregularity
- Sports Injuries
- Tension/Stress Syndromes