What is Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into carefully selected acupuncture points along the specific pathways of the body in an effort to balance Qi (chi).  Qi is vital energy that flows through pathways intersecting your internal organs and your mind.  In the field of Chinese Medicine we have observed that an imbalance in certain pathways corresponds to specific illnesses and that by placing small needles in specific points along those pathways we can influence that imbalance into balance.  If your Qi is flowing in a balanced manner you will be free of pain and illness. 


How Does it Work

There are two theories regarding how acupuncture works - the Eastern view and the Western view.  In America, the Western view suggests that insertion of acupuncture needles stimulates the nervous system to send signals to the brain to produce narcotic like substances such as endorphins and opiods which, when released into the body, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and increase healing. In the Eastern world, where TCM has been practiced for 3000 years, it is believed that the body has pathways that correspond to the internal organs and brain which interconnect with one another.  Energy known as Qi flows along these pathways, feeding and nourishing the body as a whole.  Internal and external influences may disrupt the flow of this energy, causing an imbalance and thus pathology - aches, pains and illness. Insertion of acupuncture needles in a specific manner influences this energy into a balanced state, thereby allowing healing and balance. According to both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health recognize that acupuncture can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for many illnesses. A partial list includes: addiction (such as alcoholism), asthma, bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, facial tics, fibromyalgia, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovarian syndrome, low back pain, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, sinusitis, spastic colon (often called irritable bowel syndrome), stroke rehabilitation, tendinitis, tennis elbow, and urinary problems such as incontinence. You can safely combine acupuncture with prescription drugs and other conventional treatments, but it is important for your primary care physician to be aware of and monitor how your acupuncture treatment may be affecting your conventional therapies.  In many cases medications may be reduced after treatment.


The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture also lists a wide range of conditions for which acupuncture is appropriate. In addition to those listed above, they recommend acupuncture for sports injuries, sprains, strains, whiplash, neck pain, sciatica, nerve pain due to compression, overuse syndromes similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, allergies, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sore throat (called pharyngitis), high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux (felt as heartburn or indigestion), ulcers, chronic and recurrent bladder and kidney infections, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility, endometriosis, anorexia, memory problems, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, sensory disturbances, drug detoxification, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.


Does it Hurt

Acupuncture needles are 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. While some people feel nothing at all; others experience a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin that can be followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling, numbness, traveling warmth, or heaviness. The needles are left in place for fifteen to forty minutes. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.  If you are apprehensive be sure to speak up and let the doctor know how you are feeling!


Is it Safe

This is a very common question among those who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment. When practiced properly, acupuncture is extremely safe and there is no danger whatsoever. The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be overstated. Acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles and carries a very low risk of serious adverse effects.  


Are there any contraindications

There are very few situations where acupuncture is not advised. These are the most common:  If the patient has a hemophilic (clotting) condition, caution should be utilized of the patient is pregnant - certain acupuncture points and needle manipulations should not be used during pregnancy, and if the patient has a severe psychotic condition or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol


What Should I expect my First Visit

Acupuncture is no different than any other form of medical treatment. Upon the patient's first visit, the practitioner will secure basic information about the patient, and will then proceed with the diagnostic framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine, described as the four examinations.  


How many Treatments Will I Need

Acupuncture is no different than any other form of medical treatment. Upon the patient's first visit, the practitioner will secure basic information about the patient, and will then proceed with the diagnostic framework of Traditional Chinese Medicine, described as the four examinations.  


Can Children be Treated

Children Of All Ages Are Treated And Respond Well To Acupuncture And Chinese Herbal Treatment. In Addition, Young Children Of Those Apprehensive Of The Use Of Acupuncture Needles May Be Treated Without Needles Using Cupping. In Addition, Herbal Formulas Are Usually Prescribed To Enhance The Acupuncture Treatments And To Provide Further Care Between Treatments As Well.