Acupuncture Q & A
What is acupuncture?
The ancient Chinese believed that there is a universal life energy called Chi or Qi present in every living creature. This energy forms and sustains our physical, mental, and emotional bodies. It can be identified and measured today as bio-electromagnetism, flowing along well delineated pathways. These pathways or meridians create the link between specific hypersensitive points (‘acupoints’) on the skin and specific illnesses or organ dysfunctions. We experience optimal health when our energy flow is ample and moving freely, enlivening all organs and tissues. Imagine the metaphor of rivers and streams that flow and feed into lakes and oceans. When drought, flood or blockages occur, the pathways and various forms of life that depend on the free flowing water are affected. When acupoints are manipulated by needles, heat, massage or electrical micro-currents, the imbalances that can eventually lead to pathology and illness, are remedied.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture employs very thin, disposable steel needles are typically 1/4 mm in diameter and 1 to 1.5 inches in length. The needle is solid and made of stainless steel. The tip and shaft of the needle are smooth (in contrast to a hypodermic needle that is hollow with sharp edges) and insertion through the skin feels very different than the sensation of an injection or of having blood taken. Some patients feel a slight pricking pain as the needles are inserted however many feel nothing at all. Once the needles are in place, there is typically very little sensation from the needle locally. More systemic sensations such as a heightened awareness of the body, a warm flowing sensation, tingling, movement (along treated meridian lines) of energy from one area of the body to another etc are considered normal and even beneficial. Most patients find treatments very relaxing and it is common for patients to fall asleep during the treatment.
How should I prepare for my first acupuncture appointment?
Before your first acupuncture treatment, be sure to eat a light meal, dress comfortably and prepare any questions you may have for the provider.
What is the typical procedure for an initial acupuncture treatment?
During your first visit (up to 90 minutes), your provider will take a detailed health history intake, make a comprehensive assessment and create an individualized treatment plan. During the intake, your symptoms, potential causative mechanisms and any treatment you’ve received so far will be discussed. Diet, digestive system functioning, sleep patterns, emotional states and other pertinent information will be addressed as well. Chinese medical pulse and tongue diagnosis will be taken and analyzed. The comprehensive assessment will result in an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific condition, which the provider will explain to you in detail. Your treatment plan may include recommendations for any or all of the following modalities described in greater detail below: acupuncture, Electro Acupuncunture, Chinese herbal therapy, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha or a referral for chiropractic or massage.
On your first visit, please plan to arrive 30 minutes early in order to fill out new patient paperwork. If you prefer, you may instead download it from our website, fill it out prior to your arrival and arrive at the time of your scheduled appointment. Be sure to bring your insurance information and claim number (for motor vehicle accident or worker’s compensation claims) with you.
Why do acupuncturists feel my pulse and look at my tongue?
There are twelve pulse positions on each wrist that your acupuncturist will palpate. Each position corresponds to a specific meridian and organ. Your acupuncturist will be looking for indicators that provide information about overall health. Imbalances often appear in the pulse. A number of indicators on the tongue also reflect the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist for instance will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue to assist them in your comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.
What kind of education is required for an acupuncturist?
For an Acupuncturist to be licensed, they need to have completed at least three to four years of extensive graduate education at a nationally accredited school. In Oregon, all programs include a rigorous year long internship. Acupuncturists must also pass a national exam and meet strict guidelines to practice in every state and must also complete continuing education annually in order to maintain licensure. Acupuncturists in the state of Oregon are nationally board certified and licensed by the Oregon Medical Board.
Are there any negative side effects with acupuncture?
Typically there are no negative side effects. When energy in the body is manipulated, internal chemistry and hormones are affected as the healing response begins to take place. It’s very common to feel deeply relaxed and occasionally even a bit disoriented after a treatment. However responses to treatment vary with every individual. General fluctuations for example in appetite, sleep, bowel movements, emotional states and urination patterns can occur. Redness and swelling sometimes occur and there may be areas on your body that are tender even a few days after a treatment. Such after effects are not common but are more likely in a treatment for pain or injury. Original symptoms can also worsen as the body finds is way back to balance. Such reactions are not cause for concern as they are simply indications that movement resulting from the acupuncture is occurring.
Keep in mind that patients often seek treatment for conditions that are a byproduct of patterning that has been in place long before the symptom(s) that brought them to treatment appeared. Moving the body back naturally to a state of balance will require engaged efforts from both the practitioner and the patient. The process may also require the patient to feel a little ‘uncomfortable’ as they adjust to old habits and patterns giving way to more balanced ways of being in the world.
How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
The recommended number and frequency of treatments will vary from person to person and depend on a variety of things including but not limited to the condition being treated, the patients treatment goals, the patients age and overall general health, the patients willingness to make modifications to their habits as well as their comfortability with change. Generally, acute problems require more frequent treatments for a shorter period of time, whereas chronic conditions typically require a longer course of treatment.
Is acupuncture safe for kids?
Yes. In some instances children actually respond more quickly than adults. If your child has an aversion to needles, your acupuncturist may massage the acupuncture points. This is called acupressure or tuina.
What does acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of common illnesses including:
• Digestive: Abdominal pain, Constipation, Diarrhea, Hyperacidity, Indigestion
• Emotional: Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Nervousness, Neurosis
• Eye-Ear-Nose-Throat: Poor vision, Tinnitis, Toothache, TMJ, Sinusitis
• Gynecological: Infertility, Menopause symptoms, PMS
• Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Muscle cramping, Muscle pain & weakness, Neck & Back pain, Fibromyalgia
• Neurological: Headaches, Migraines, Parkinson’s disease, Postoperative pain, Sciatica pain, Stroke
• Respiratory: Asthma, Bronchitis, Common cold, Smoking cessation
• Others: Addiction, Chronic fatigue, Immune system problems, Pain control
Do I need a doctor’s referral for acupuncture?
It depends on your insurance plan, most patients do not request a doctor’s referral but it’s important to verify this with your insurance before scheduling an appointment.