When somebody calls or comes in for their first acupuncture treatment, there are always lots of questions.  It’s normal and completely expected.  For most people, the idea of having needles placed all over the body, doesn’t seem logical, especially for something like pain relief.  But the little needles used in an acupuncture treatment are nothing like what most people have pictured in their minds.  And the benefits are incredible!!  So let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about acupuncture.

Is acupuncture safe?
ABSOLUTELY!!!  In the hands of a professionally trained practitioner, acupuncture is completely safe, even for infants and women who are pregnant.

Can I have acupuncture alongside western medical treatments?
Acupuncture can and often is used in conjunction with western medical treatments. It does not negatively interfere with other forms of medicine. It is important, however, to tell your acupuncturist what other forms of treatment you are receiving, especially if it involves medications or chemotherapy.

Does acupuncture hurt?
By far, this is the most common question.  And the answer is not really.  Yes, there is a quick pinch when the needle goes in, which is similar to a mosquito bite.  But once the needles are in place, most people don’t really know they are there and the relaxation begins.

Is there anything in or on the needles?
No.  The needles used by an acupuncturist are much different from the ones used at a doctor’s office.  Acupuncture needles have no bore in them.  They are solid.  So there is no way for them to “contain” anything inside.  They are also not dipped in anything.  They are surgically sterile until the package they come in is opened.

How many needles are used per treatment?
That varies depending on what is being treated and the East Asian Medical diagnosis.  Each person is treated as an individual and their symptoms can change and shift.  So, the number of needles used can actually be different from treatment to treatment.  In this office, the number of needles used, tends to hover around 20.

How many treatments will I need?
This is a very tough question to answer because there are many variables that have to be considered when treating a patient.  As an acupuncturist, we have to consider all the contributing factors that can impede healing.  For instance, a chronic condition that has been present for several years, will most likely take longer to address than an acute condition, like a sprained ankle.  This means that some people need more treatments than others.  So, the reality is that we are not psychics and unfortunately, are not able to provide a definite answer to this question.  We look at past cases and the evidence presented that then allows us to give most patients some sort of estimate.  But it is, by no means, a guarantee and should never be considered to be iron clad.

How often will I need to be treated?
This is another case-by-case question.  But generally, patients come in once or twice per week for a month and then continue to spread out the treatments.  This will depend on how quickly the patient reacts to the treatments.  Ultimately, the goal is to have patients come in once every month or so for maintenance treatments.  It’s just like doing oil changes on your car, they are necessary for the vehicle to function.  The same holds true for the human body.

Do I have to get acupuncture for the rest of my life?
Another tricky question.  The true nature of acupuncture is that it should be used in a preventive manner to keep the body functioning optimally.  But many people only use it to deal with specific problems, like low back pain or urinary incontinence and then they stop treatments once that issue is resolved.  While this can be quite effective, it is better to continue with maintenance treatments.  You can’t expect your body to function, if you don’t give it the tools it needs.  Ultimately, it is an individual choice, but regular tune ups are recommended by most East Asian Medicine practitioners.

Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No, you don’t. Infants can be treated, as can unconscious people. Animals can be, and are, successfully treated with acupuncture.  Just like using meditation, you don’t have to believe it is working for it to actually work.  Acupuncture has been proven to be effective through the use of different medical tests, like CT scans and functional MRI scans.  Many medical practitioners, regardless of their field, tend to agree that it does help if the patient’s mind and psyche are engaged in the process of getting better, but it still works on a physical level even if you don’t believe in it.

How is acupuncture different from Western medicine?
Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine view the human body very differently.  EAM does not separate the body from the mind, or the inside from the outside, but takes a comprehensive holistic view of the person, the complaint and the context it is happening in. EAM can often diagnose and treat odd complaints and problems that western medicine can’t put a label on.

How are the acupuncture points chosen for a treatment?
Acupuncture treatments are based on a thorough diagnosis and examination of the problem. Only once your practitioner is satisfied that they have all the information they need in order to understand what is wrong, will they attempt to start a treatment.  Selecting the right points for your individual condition is a matter of a good diagnosis, combined with the practitioners experience. Each acupuncture point has a different set of properties that they are used for.

Can acupuncture help, even if I don’t have health issues?
Yes.  You can use acupuncture and EAM even when you are not sick or injured or even as preventive medicine.  A good example of this is using acupuncture to help deal with daily stress, something it is very effective at doing.  EAM has always been used to improve health and allow you to live life to the fullest.  In fact, in ancient China, the patient used to see their practitioner regularly in the understanding that it was the practitioner’s job to help them stay well.  If the patient did fall ill, they wouldn’t pay for the treatment.  Practitioners who worked for royalty, could actually lose their life if the treatments failed.  YIKES!!

This is just a small sample of the frequently asked questions that occur with regards to acupuncture and East Asian Medicine.  If there is something else you are curious about, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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