What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of sterile single-use needles (about the width of 1-2 human hairs) into your body to strengthen your ability to heal yourself and to relieve pain, inflammation and other problems. Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago, and is part of the world’s oldest system of medicine in continuous use. Since the 1970s, acupuncture has been performed in the United States, and it has been proven to be exceptionally safe when performed by licensed acupuncturists.

Why would I want to get acupuncture?

It is a simple, safe way to feel more at ease and to stay well. It relieves pain, helps you sleep better and cope with the ups and downs of daily life. Problems such as muscle tightness and spasm, mood swings, allergies, digestive upsets, hot flashes, and colds/flu are all effectively treated. The World Health Organization's 2003 Report: Acupuncture Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials include the diseases, symptoms and conditions for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials – to be an effective treatment.

Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

Absolutely not! You just need to be willing to come a few times to see for yourself what it can do for you.

So, how does acupuncture work?

We do know that acupuncture needles help ease us out of our Sympathetic Nervous System’s “fight or flight stress response” and into the Para-sympathetic Nervous System’s “rest and recuperate” state. And we also know that acupuncture needles stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving substances in our body.

What about the needles?

All of our needles are sterile, used only once, and then disposed of immediately into a red biohazard container. The needles are about the width of 1-2 human hairs. Most of our needles are 1/2" long and are inserted shallowly (about 1/8" – 1/4"). Some of our needles are 1" long and are inserted deeper. Acupuncture needles are not like needles used in other medical areas. We use solid (filiform) needles which do not have a hole inside (so nothing is being put into or taken out through the needle). You can fit about 12 of our needles into a single needle used to draw blood.

Is acupuncture painful?

Since our needles are so much smaller than a needle to draw blood, they feel very different. Most of the time you won’t feel anything, however, there may be times when you notice a sensation with needling. You may feel a pinch or brief burning when the needle is inserted, but that sensation should ease right away. Please let us know if you continue to feel it – and we will reposition or remove the needle.

There are also sensations that let you know that your treatment is working: an ache or heaviness, or a tightening and releasing of a specific area. All of these are normal and let you know that progress is being made. If you have any questions about what you feel – just ask. (Some people don’t notice any sensations at all and that’s ok too).

Will I have to come forever to keep feeling good?

How often and how long you need to come depends on why you are coming. New problems can usually be treated quickly, while chronic issues may take a while. Here are some examples:

Carmen sprained her wrist yesterday when she tripped and fell. Her wrist is very swollen and her pain is severe. Her x-rays showed no broken bones. Carmen will likely need 3-4 treatments the first week, and then 1-2 treatments the following week for her pain and swelling to resolve.

Rashad came in because he has wrist pain. He injured his wrist more than 6 months ago, and it’s still quite painful and swollen. His doctor diagnosed tendinitis. Rashad's injury has become chronic. He will likely need 3 treatments a week for several weeks, and then reduce to 1-2 treatments a week for 2-4 weeks for his pain and inflammation to resolve.

Bill is very irritable and often yells at people. He's had "bad" headaches every day for 3 weeks. His doctor says the headaches are from stress. Bill will need more frequent treatments initially (perhaps 3-5 treatments the first week) and then 1-2 treatments a week for 4-6 weeks.

Jennifer has had insomnia and anxiety for many years. She has trouble falling asleep, wakes every few hours, and “never feels rested”. Jennifer will need 2-3 treatments a week for 3-4 weeks until she is sleeping fairly well and feeling calmer. Then we can reduce treatments to weekly until she is consistently sleeping well and her anxiety is well-controlled.

Are there any reasons that I should not get acupuncture?

Acupuncture is very safe. If you are not well regulated on prescription blood thinners or have a serious blood clotting disorder (with severe bruising and blood collecting under the skin) we may determine that acupuncture may not be appropriate until your doctor has regulated your blood clotting levels. However, most people on blood thinners can safely get acupuncture. We also ask that you let us know if you are pregnant (or think you may be pregnant), so that we do not place needles into areas that may stimulate contractions of your uterus.