Frequently Asked Questions
Is acupuncture painful? What does it feel like?
No, acupuncture is not considered painful. Quite often there is no sensation at all with the insertion of the needle. After insertion, the practitioner will manipulate the needle to get a qi or da qi sensation. To the patient, this may feel like a pressure, an ache, or a tingling sensation. It may radiate or it may feel warmer or cooler in the region. This qi sensation can be different with each point or even from one session to another. It is usually very mild and tends to go away quickly. Pain does not serve a useful purpose in an acupuncture treatment. However, a qi sensation is often considered important for effective treatments. Most patients become very relaxed during a treatment session; some may even fall asleep.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture is very safe when done by qualified practitioners. The needles are very thin and flexible, unlike needles used for injections. Only sterile, single-use needles are used.
What can acupuncture be used for?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Acupuncture can help in several cases:
· Arthritis/joint pain
· Back pain
· Knee pain
· Neck pain/stiffness
· Shoulder pain
· Gynecological disorders
· Pre-menstrual syndrome
· Sexual dysfunction
· Bladder/Kidney problems
· Manage stress
· Dizziness, Fatigue
· Heart problems/palpitations
· High blood pressure
In addition, we can also treat other issues:
· General Health
· Weight loss
How does acupuncture work?
Despite excellent research designed to answer this question, there are no good, clear, simple answers available. There are numerous theories that attempt to explain the mechanism of acupuncture. Pain is the area in which most research has been completed, and therefore most of the theories about the mechanism of acupuncture are related to the use of acupuncture in diseases of pain.
Research suggests that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, in turn, aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
How many treatments are needed?
The number of treatments is highly variable and dependent upon what condition is being treated, its severity, how long the patient has been experiencing the problem, and the responsiveness of the individual. Although it is common for some people to notice significant results immediately, it must be noted that the treatments are cumulative in effect and that it is expected for the body system to make shifts over time. Generally, one should expect to have up to five treatments to assess the progress being made through this type of treatment, and then a more accurate plan can be determined.
Are treatments covered by insurance?
Insurance coverage is dependent upon the insurance policy and extent of coverage. Many policies do cover acupuncture, especially for disorders of pain. Many policies will cover the costs of the office visit and other types of therapies such as electrical stimulation, acupressure, and application of heat. Some policies require a referral from a primary care physician for the treatments to be covered and may have annual limits. Points of Wellness does not directly file insurance for patients. However, upon request, a “super-bill” receipt is available providing all the necessary details for patients to file claims for themselves.
Why do they want to feel my pulses?
There are 12 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 27 individual qualities that reflect overall health. If there are any problems, they may appear in the pulse.
Why do you want to look at my tongue?
The tongue is a map of the body. It reflects the general health of the organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue.
What should I expect during treatment?
Where the acupuncture needle has been inserted, you may experience a vague numbness, heaviness, tingling or dull ache. Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle. This is called the “Qi sensation”. All these reactions are good and a sign that the treatment is working. After treatment, you may feel energized or may experience a deep sense of relaxation and well-being.
How should I prepare?
Come with any questions you have—we're here to help you. Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points. Don't eat large meals just before or after your visit. However, do not come hungry. If you are taking a pain-killer please take it early in the day or not at all on the day of the appointment. Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit. Keep hydrated especially for the first 24 hours after a session. Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occurred, such as the alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas, or changes in the frequency and type of problems.
Do the needles hurt?
The sensation caused by an acupuncture needle varies. Some people feel a little pain as the needles are inserted, but most people feel no pain at all. The needles are very thin, only a little thicker than a cat's whisker or a strand of human hair.
How deep do they go?
The depth of the insertion varies. For example, your acupuncturist will use a needling technique that is different when approaching fleshier areas, such as your buttocks. Typically, needles are inserted at depths that range anywhere from 1/8" to 1½".
Is acupuncture safe for children?
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.