What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of single-use, sterile, medical-grade stainless steel needles into various acupuncture points in the body. Acupuncture assists in Qi or energy flow throughout the body which is responsible for overall health. Disruption of Qi flow can cause disease. By applying acupuncture to certain points, it is thought to improve the flow of Qi, thereby improving health. Acupuncture is only one of the various healing methods within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Traditional Chinese Medicine’s healing techniques include the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping therapy, guasha, nutrition, and more.
What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture can help treat a myriad of conditions including, but not limited to, musculoskeletal pain such as neck pain, back pain or other joint pain, headaches, allergies, stress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, insomnia, digestive issues, weight loss, immune system issues, and women’s health concerns.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture stimulates Qi flow in the meridians or energetic pathways, which oftentimes lie right over the nervous system. Therefore, acupuncture can stimulate the central or peripheral nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
How to Prepare for an Initial Treatment?
It is recommended that patients bring with them any relevant medical information, such as a list of any medications, herbs, and supplements, as well as any diagnostic material that can be used to understand their health condition. MRIs, blood work, and other diagnostic information related to your current condition are welcome. Patients should arrive at their appointment with comfortable clothes after eating a light meal (not on an empty stomach) and should be prepared to refrain from rigorous exercise for at least three hours after treatment.
How Long Is Each Visit?
The initial visit generally will last about 90 minutes, and follow-up visits generally will be approximately 45-60 minutes. The time spent doing the acupuncture treatment ranges from 20–30 minutes, depending on the specific condition.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Generally, acupuncture does not hurt. Some sensations may be felt during the needling process. Sensations may vary from no sensation at all to mild sensations of warmth, tingling, or tugging. There may also be a sensation of energy moving right above or below the site of needle insertion.
How Does a Patient Feel During a Treatment?
Oftentimes, patients feel very relaxed during an acupuncture treatment and may fall asleep.
How Safe Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is very safe. As with other forms of healthcare in the state of California, acupuncture practice and licensure are regulated by a medical acupuncture board. The board requires licensed acupuncturists who have completed at least four (4) years of training at a Master’s level program and have passed a board exam. As part of their certification and licensure acupuncturists must take and pass an exam that covers medical safety issues pertinent to the field of acupuncture. All needles come from sterilized packages. The needles used for acupuncture are disposable and made for one-time use.
What Are the Side Effects of Acupuncture?
As with any treatment, there are risks to acupuncture though many of these can be offset by working with an experienced acupuncturist. Common issues involve bruising, bleeding, and pain from the insertion of acupuncture needles. However, other rare side effects include nausea, dizziness, fainting, pneumothorax (a collapsed lung, exceptionally rare when working with a trained healthcare professional), and infections.
How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will Be Needed?
The number of acupuncture treatments will be determined by various factors; severity of health condition, whether the illness is acute or chronic, whether the person’s general health is relatively well or not, and whether there are currently any factors that are exacerbating the condition. Usually, patients come in once or twice per week; some patients may need to come in more often. Once the condition starts to improve, the frequency of the treatments will decrease.