Frequently Asked Questions
I want to ease any fear that acupuncture often brings to mind. This page will answer many of the questions you may have and what you can expect during treatment.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an effective form of health care that has evolved over thousands of years into a complete and holistic medical system. Practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have used this non-invasive medical system to diagnose and help millions of people become well and stay well. Most people are unaware that acupuncture can address and safely treat so many different, diverse kinds of illnesses. It is an efficient system. What worked thousands of years ago has merit! It still works today.
After discussing your detailed past and present medical history with you, an acupuncturist will take your pulse(s), look at your tongue and palpate areas on the arms/legs to ascertain the appropriate sites for treatment. The acupuncturist will then place fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints on the body. This promotes healing by enhancing the recuperative power (engage the circulation system) of the body which strengthens immunity and improves overall body function and well-being. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe. It is an all-natural, drug-free therapy, yielding relatively no side effects, except feelings of relaxation and well-being or an energized state (varies). The surgical stainless steel acupuncture needles are sterile, used only once, and are then appropriately disposed of in a Biohazard container. They’re teeny, tiny, little needles the thickness of a hair!
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 or use other types of acupressure such as ear beads which adhere to specific areas in the ears with medical adhesive. This technique is called Acupressure.
What Type of Schooling Do Acupuncturists Receive?
Today, acupuncturists receive anywhere from 4 to 6 years of extensive and comprehensive graduate training at nationally certified, accredited schools, which does not include the prerequisite college degree many acupuncture schools require, as well as the prerequisite of college level Anatomy & Physiology classes prior to getting their Master’s Degree in Acupuncture. All acupuncturists must pass a national exam (NCCAOM) and meet strict guidelines to practice legally in every state. Sonja has maintained membership with the NCCAOM for fifteen years.
Do the Needles Hurt?
The sensation caused by an acupuncture needle varies from person to person. Some very sensitive people may feel a little sticking sensation upon insertion, but most people feel no pain whatsoever. The needles are tiny, just a little larger than a cat’s whisker or a human hair.
How Deep Do They Go?
The depth of the insertion varies from practitioner to practitioner. For example, Japanese acupuncture techniques are minimally invasive and use a minimum depth of only 1-2 mm. Depth varies appropriately depending upon need.
What Can I Expect?
During the initial exam, a health history will be taken. Questions will be asked regarding symptoms, health and lifestyle. An acupuncturist may also check pulses, the tongue, and conduct an appropriate physical exam by palpating areas of tenderness according to symptoms. The information is then organized in order to create a complete, comprehensive and accurate diagnosis. After the interview process, you may receive an acupuncture treatment. Expect your first visit to last between one and two hours. Follow-up visits range from 45 to 60 minutes.
What Should I Expect During Treatment?
Where the acupuncture needle has been inserted, you may experience a vague numbness, or heaviness, tingling, or dull ache, sometimes no feeling is felt at all. Sometimes people experience a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle or needles. This is called the “Qi” sensation (the sensation felt when the circulation is starting to move freely). All these reactions are acceptable. Afterward you may feel either energized or you may feel a deep sense of relaxation and well-being. Some people choose to go home and take a nap.
How Many Treatments will I need?
The number of treatments will vary from person to person depending upon how quickly one responds. Chronic conditions or problems you have had for over a year usually take more treatments than does a new condition that you’ve had for a few weeks/months.
The rule of thumb is that 10 acupuncture treatments constitutes one full course of treatment, therefore, chronic conditions usually take at least one full course of treatments to see a significant change. Most people find relief somewhere between four and six treatments, but continue with treatment until the problem has resolved.
Most of my clients have found that they feel their best when they return for healthcare maintenance every 4-6 weeks.
What is Qi (pronounced “Chee”) and How Does It Move?
At the core of this ancient medicine, is the philosophy that Qi, or Life Energy, flows throughout the body. Qi animates the body and protects it from illness, pain and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.
Qi circulates through specific pathways called Meridians. There are 14 meridian pathways through the body. Each is connected to specific organs and glands. Meridian pathways are like rivers. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that nourishes the land, plants and people. Like rivers, meridian pathways transport life-giving Qi to nourish and energize every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle.
When Qi flows freely throughout the body, one enjoys good physical, mental and emotional well-being. An obstruction of Qi anywhere in the body is like a dam, backing up in one area, and restricting it in others. Restricting the flow affects the nourishment required by the body in order to function optimally.
What Can Affect Qi?
Many things can influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, diet, accidents, or excessive activity can lead to a blockage or imbalance of Qi.Normally when this occurs, the body naturally bounces back, returning to a balanced state of health and well-being. When a disruption to Qi is prolonged excessively, or if the body is in a weakened state, illness, pain or disease can set in.
How Should I Prepare?
- First, come with an open mind. The following points will help you prepare for your first acupuncture visit.
- Come with any questions you may 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 right after the visit.
- Refrain from overexertion, drugs, or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit.
- Avoid stressful situations after the visit, make time to relax, and be sure to get plenty of rest.
Between visits, take notes of any changes that may have occured, ie., the alleviation of pain, or pain moving to other areas, changes in the frequency and type of problem(s).