Wednesday-Saturday by Appointment

Patient FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

  1. Disclosure: Complete your health history questionnaire honestly and fully with complete list of medications and supplements. Be prepared to summarize the history of current issue, surgeries, or chronic illness during our visit.
  2. Allow Time: Set aside time for your treatment in your schedule. It is best to not be rushing or racing from the day into your appointment. Avoid strenuous activity after treatment. It is best to allow the body the space to integrate treatment. Remember to turn your phone off during treatment.
  3. Neither Full or Empty: Make sure to have something to eat a couple hours before your appointment and are hydrated.
  4. Comfort: We’ll most likely need access to the area that brings you in for treatment. Wear loose comfortable clothing, ideally elastic waist pants that stretch where the cuff can easily raise over the knee without restricting circulation. It may be a good idea to bring a pair of shorts or tank top with you for treatment. In cooler or rainy months, be sure to bring and extra layer and/or scarf to guard against the cool weather after treatment.
  5. Avoid these things: Refrain from alcohol, caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and/or recreational drugs or chemical substances prior to treatment.
  6. Keep it Simple: Some of us are really crushing it when it comes to managing the schedule and time blocking. If you are new to acupuncture, avoid booking other services on the same day of treatment i.e. chiropractic care, massages, personal trainer, Pilates, etc. This way we can gather clear and honest post-treatment feedback about how your body processes various acupuncture treatments.

At your first visit, we will discuss your medical and family history, reasons for seeking treatment and basic body systems questions. Please share any concerns, stresses, and symptoms. Then we will take your pulse, visually examine your tongue, and palpate areas being treated for pain. In future treatments, we’ll do brief check ins on various aspects to note progression. After the interview and any examinations, we’ll move into the treatment phase of the appointment.

While on the treatment table, we will do our best to make sure you are in a position of comfort. To close the treatment, we’ll discuss treatment plan and any lifestyle adjustments and/or practices as well as diet therapies.

The needles used are pre-sterilized and packaged, single-use disposable stainless steel, and are barely larger than the thickness of several human hairs. We aim for painless, gentle insertion just beneath the skin’s surface and then slowly go to proper depth of desired mechanism of action. The level of sensation varies from person to person. You may feel nothing or a quick pinch at the surface of the skin on insertion. During needle manipulation and retention, you may feel a dull ache, heaviness, warmth, twitching/grasping sensation, and/or tingle.

Ancient Chinese Scholars didn’t use the same language we use today in modern times. Instead, they used language that was meaningful to their time and world-view. Inside the bare bones of East Asian Medicine is the recognition that Each One contains The Three Treasures: Jing/Essence, Qi, and Shen.

Jing/Essence is likened to the primal energy of life aka our genetic potential. Qi is the source of all movement in the body, it warms, it defends, transforms into useful substances, and holds things (like organs and structure) in proper places. Qi is not only the Motive Force (aka biological functions) it also includes the Vital Substances: Blood and Body Fluids. Qi is the reflection of our vitality, adaptability, circulation, motive biological force, and nourishment in body fluids. Shen is translated at Spirit or Mind.  Today we would use words like awareness, consciousness, cognition, emotional intelligence, or “Presence.” Shen is responsible for thinking, planning, and feeling.

When illness or disharmony befalls the body, then EAM practitioners believe there is a disruption in the natural order and flow within the body. Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal treatment (internal or topical) aim to disperse excesses, fortify deficiency, and restore proper flow within pathways returning harmony and balance. Basically, restore the smooth flow and function of Qi and Blood. In the language of modern times, we would say the needles stimulate your body’s central nervous system and immune system to react to an illness or symptom, rebalance the body, release natural chemicals like endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers and neurotransmitters, chemicals that control nerve impulses.

If you would like to know more, please ask me for an informational brochure from Acupuncture MediaWorks titled “Acupuncture in a Nutshell.” I would be happy to provide you one. An excerpt on the theory of the mechanisms of acupuncture:

“1) Neurotransmitter Theory: Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.

2) Blood Chemistry Theory: Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.

3) Autonomic Nervous System Theory: Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.

4) Vascular-interstitial Theory: Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.

5) Gate Control Theory: Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, ‘gating out’ painful stimuli.”

Acupuncture is easily integrated into and used in conjunction with conventional medicine. We recommend not altering medication or other therapies without consulting your provider.

If you are having a medical emergency, please phone your physician who may instruct you to go immediately to urgent care or the emergency department.  In some cases, you may be advised to call 911. In non-life threatening situations where you have an “active” skin infection or malignancy, lymphoedema of a limb, or unregulated hemophilia, clotting disorder, or diabetes.

Most often adverse effects of acupuncture are mild, if any present at all. Common side effects include soreness, minor bleeding, or bruising at insertion sites. Acupuncturists use sterile, single-insertion needles so risk of infection is low. Please let us know if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners regularly.

Other transient side effects can include aggravation of symptoms, drowsiness, nausea, feeling dizzy or faint. We recommend being well hydrated and having something to eat a couple hours prior to your treatment. RARE adverse effects include pneumothorax (lung puncture) and organ injury.

There are research studies that show acupuncture has been used successfully to treat children and/or animals. Neither subject group affirmed having preconceived beliefs about the effectiveness of acupuncture. A positive outlook and lifestyle can reinforce the treatment effects of many healing modalities.

The tongue is the only muscle anyone can see outside the body. From an EAM perspective, the tongue reflects the general health of the body and gives insights to health level of organs, Qi, and body fluids. Aspects that will be noted in assessment are the color, shape, and coating, including color and/or thickness.

The number of treatments needed will be different for each person. Some may experience relief right away while others take repeated visits over time and diligent attention to homework and lifestyle changes. The complexity of the issue you are seeking treatment for and your general overall health/constitution will contribute to number of treatments needed and length of time necessary for healing. In general,  chronic conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones.

EAM theory is to restore balance to the body, as the body heals itself when in harmony.  The goal of treatment is to provide support as needed, often being more frequent in the early stages of healing and then transitioning to less frequent more of a maintenance level.  Just to clarify, overtreating will not give anyone a Super Hero status or level of health. That level of health/fitness comes from the inside out, rooted in the concept of equilibrium and has to be invested in daily with your choices, efforts and actions – big and small.

In most states, PTs, ATs, DCs, MDs, RNs can dry needle patients after a 25-hour CEU course that does not include supervised needle skill instruction, proficiency exams, clinical case work-ups, or require continuing education to validate and maintain their skills. Many acupuncture professional organizations lobby to bring greater requirements necessary through legislature in order to dry needle. Patients have a right and expectation that every provider inserting a needle into their body has been vetted and examined to perform such procedures.

In the office, I provide patients with Orthopedic Acupuncture to aid local musculoskeletal issues. Dry needling is one aspect of Orthopedic Acupuncture. Dry needling is the application of an acupuncture needle to a myofascial trigger point, motor point or adhered muscle fiber or joint capsule. Western medicine attributes the original development of dry needling to Dr. Janet Travell in the 1940s as a part of the body of knowledge on muscular trigger points and their referral patterns treated by injectable “wet” needles and later dry needles. There are multiple scientific contributions since that evolved to what we think of dry needling today.

From an acupuncturists perspective, the original concept of dry needling was first described over 2,000 years ago in China’s earliest and most comprehensive medical treatise, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing) in Chapter 13 of Ling Shu. There it describes how to treat painful problems of the muscles with the painful points along the course of the muscle or sinew (connective tissue) channel by determination of palpation and assessed for tenderness. There are details given to ‘peck bone’ on various points given right set of symptoms and circumstances presenting in patients. China’s preeminent physician, Sun Si-Miao (581–682 C.E.), called these tender or painful points “ashi” points. Ashi acupuncture is one form of Orthopedic Acupuncture.

The Scholars that contributed to the Classics were physicians and scientists of the time. They made great sacrifice to further the body of knowledge of a vast and complex system with preservation in mind for those that understand the philosophy in its whole form. They used language that was familiar to them associated with the time and culture, much like Western medicine is doing today to change the language to what is familiar to them so they can communicate with others and know what each other is talking about.

The Classical writings prioritize key information to preserve people in a state of harmony and/or balance, living joyfully and whole despite circumstance. The Classics capture what The Scholars thought was most relevant to pass on to future generations as a complete body of knowledge while remaining in harmony, both using and preserving the Land and its resources.  In essence, our ancient Scholars were the Functional Medicine Doctors of their time.

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