What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)? Chinese Medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, evolving empirically with systematic observation of the human body. A holistic understanding of the universe, based on observation of patterns and movements in nature, has produced this elegant system of diagnosis and treatment.
Acupuncture is the most commonly implemented modality, in which the practitioner will insert very fine gauge needles into specific points on the body to effect physiological functions. Other methods such as electro-acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha and body work can be included in treatment. Chinese herbs are often the other key to effective treatment, as they work strongly with acupuncture to increase and accelerate the movement from disharmony towards health. Included in a treatment plan are recommendations on diet and lifestyle, nutritional therapy and exercise or meditation; all are considered important aspects of balanced health.
What does acupuncture feel like? Does acupuncture hurt? People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or a minimal sensation that subsides quickly after the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. It is common to experience sensations such as pressure, warmth, tingling or a dull ache near the needle site. At other times you might experience sensations of movement in non-adjacent areas of your body.
What should I expect at my first appointment? During your first visit, the practitioner will ask you many questions about your current and past health conditions, diet, lifestyle, medications in addition to question regarding overall body systems. This health intake will assist in building a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviors that may contribute to your condition. Your acupuncturist will also feel your pulse and look at your tongue to assist with the diagnosis. During the initial visit your goals of treatment and how your progress can be assessed will also be discussed.
An Acupuncture treatment is formulated based on the information collected during the intake and your individual condition. This information will determine the acupuncture points to be used for treatment. Commonly a selection of points, including local, adjacent and distal, are used based on the action of specific points, relation to the meridian or organ system to be addressed and to address underlying constitutional disharmony.
Your practitioner will use sterile, stainless steel needles that are of an extremely small gauge, similar to the diameter of a human hair. These needles are designed to be single use and are discarded after they are removed. After the acupuncture needles have been inserted, you will rest on the treatment table for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Most people find this aspect of treatment very relaxing and many will even fall asleep.
Is acupuncture safe? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles as a Class II medical device for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Your practitioner will use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for every treatment and will swab treatment sites with alcohol before inserting needles. The acupuncturist has completed training in human anatomy, physiology, acupuncture point location and needling techniques to limit the possibility of serious adverse effects.
How many treatments will I need? This is unique to each individual. For many conditions, an average of five to seven treatments, once per week is a recommended treatment plan. We will periodically re-evaluate your progress during the course of your treatment and adjust as necessary. Some people will experience an immediate improvement in their health, while others will notice a more cumulative effect over several visits. If a condition is chronic, a longer treatment plan may be necessary.
Can children be treated with acupuncture? There are no age limits for acupuncture. Pediatric acupuncture is very gentle and safe. Children typically respond very quickly to acupuncture and massage.
What types of conditions can be treated with Acupuncture? Addiction & Recovery, Allergies, Arthritis, Anxiety, Back Pain, Bell’s Palsy, Cancer Support, Chronic Pain, Childhood Illnesses, Common Cold, Constipation, Depression, Diarrhea, Emotional Issues, Fatigue, Fertility Support, Headaches, Insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Joint Pain, Labor Pain & Induction, Menstrual Disorders, Neck Pain, Nausea, PMS Symptoms, Sciatica, Sexual Disorders, Stress, Stroke, Tendonitis, TMJ, Wellness
What type of training is required for acupuncturists? A Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)TM has completed four academic years of education at the master’s degree level in acupuncture and Chinese herbology program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). ACAOM is the only accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education as the authority for quality education and training in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. In addition to graduation from an ACAOM accredited program, a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine must demonstrate professional competency by passing NCCAOM certification examinations in Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture and Point Location, Chinese Herbology and Biomedicine.
Generally, the NCCAOM Diplomate training and competency verification is in sharp contrast to the acupuncture and Oriental medicine training of other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors or registered nurses or even medical doctors who typically receive 100-300 hours of abbreviated training. Certified and licensed acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners are also trained in standard medical history gathering, safety and ethics, and recognition of when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals or consult with other medical practitioners. (Source http://www.nccaom.org/)
What is Shiatsu? Zen Shiatsu is a form of bodywork administered by thumbs, fingers, palms and elbows, feet and knees. Pressure is applied to all parts of the body along specific meridians. This form of massage is designed to harmonize the movement of Qi in the body. From the Western point of view, shiatsu works directly to calm the autonomic nervous system, which has the effect of calming nervous distress and increasing resistance to stress. By helping with blood and lymph circulation in the body, shiatsu helps to maintain and improve muscle tone and healthy internal organ functions. It is believed that shiatsu can also strengthen the immune system. Zen Shiatsu is performed while the recipient lies on a futon on the floor, allowing the practitioner access from all sides and the ability to apply pressure using body weight. The shiatsu recipient should be dressed in comfortable, loose clothing to allow the practitioner to move the patient’s arms and leg into gentle stretch positions during the treatment.
What is Gua Sha? Gua Sha is a therapeutic technique used to resolve musculoskeletal pain and stiffness by increasing the movement of blood and lymph. "Gua” is translated as “to scrape” and "Sha” refers to redness. This technique involves moving a round edged tool across the surface of the skin with fast, firm pressure. After this procedure is performed, an area of raised, red petechia will appear on the skin’s surface. The redness should fade after 2-3 days.
Gua Sha has also traditionally been used as a treatment to reduce fever, treat fatigue caused by exposure to heat, cough and dyspnea, treat muscle and tendon injuries, improve circulation, treat headaches, stiffness, pain and immobility, and digestive disorders.
What is Cupping? Cupping is a form of soft tissue manipulation that is achieved by creating a vacuum within a glass cup. A small flame is inserted and quickly withdraw from the cup, and when the cup is immediately placed on the surface of the skin a strong suction seal is formed. The cups can remain stationary on one area or may be moved over a large surface like the back. This action will increase movement of Qi and blood.
This technique can result in a bruised appearance where the cups have been applied, but the treatment is painless and many patients find it a relaxing and enjoyable therapy. Cupping can be effectively used to treat a number of problems including, but not limited to: the common cold, bronchitis, asthma, and musculoskeletal pain.
Will my insurance cover my acupuncture treatment? Insurance coverage varies by company and coverage type. Contact your provider to determine if your treatment may be covered by insurance.