Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, being at least 2000 years old, is one of the oldest, widely used and well tested medical systems in the world. It is a gentle, safe and effective form of health care. Acupuncture practitioners use thin, sterile, disposable needles inserted superficially into specific areas of the skin in order to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself.

Acupuncture is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. Scientific studies increasingly validate the many positive physiologic changes associated with acupuncture treatments, and patients regularly report the good results they have received from acupuncture, all without medications, surgery or unwanted side effects.

What can you expect when you come for an acupuncture treatment?

First we talk. We go through your medical history and your goals for treatment. I invite you to bring your whole “laundry list” of concerns, or things you would like to improve, health-wise. Acupuncture is inherently “holistic.” Multiple symptoms can be addressed at one time.

Then you will lie down on a treatment table to have your “pulses read.” While “pulse taking” feels just like it would in a doctor’s office when the doctor or nurse checks the rate and rhythm of your heart, an acupuncturist is gathering an entirely different set of information necessary for diagnosis and treatment planning. So instead of one pulse, there are actually twelve pulses, six on each wrist. Pulse reading is a fascinating art. At the beginning of the treatment, the pulses help us discern the balance of the body. When acupuncture needles are inserted, the pulses change immediately, letting us know that the treatment is going in the right direction.

Sometimes we also ask to look at your tongue, which is another form of diagnosis, and of course we will evaluate any areas of pain and discomfort.

When all the information is gathered, we get to the treatment itself.

Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of hair thin needles into very specific acu-points on the body. The points are found by a combination of measurement and anatomical landmarks, as well as a trained sense of touch. The actual insertion is quite gentle and feels like a little pinch or mosquito bite. That sensation quickly disappears and is replaced by a generalized, hard-to-describe, calm, relaxed feeling. Many people fall asleep during treatment.

Results are often noticed immediately and sometimes they become more apparent over the next few hours or days.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Many insurance plans do offer coverage for acupuncture. I am a preferred provider with Blue Cross Blue Shield and can bill them directly. Other plans may reimburse you for treatment or offer a discount on services. Health saving accounts can also be used for treatment. Please check your policy to verify your coverage.

How often do I need to come back for treatment?

I ask that new patients come once a week for three weeks. People usually feel results after the first treatment, and within three treatments, will have met or begun to meet many of their treatment goals. After these initial sessions, it is an individual’s choice whether to continue coming weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, seasonally or as needed.

Do I need to change my medications in order to have acupuncture?

No. Acupuncture works even if you are taking medications.  Interestingly, it seems that people who receive acupuncture on a regular basis enjoy a greater degree of health, spend less money on medications and lose less time at work.

Can I combine acupuncture with chiropractic or other kinds of treatment?

Yes. Adding acupuncture can make other treatments even more effective.

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

No. Many people come to believe in it, even if they do not understand it, after they see it work.

Do the needles hurt?

I asked a number of my patients this question.

Here are some of their answers….

“Nope. I tell people I can usually feel the energy, but I can’t feel the needle. And that comes from someone who is terrified of needles.”

“It feels like someone is lightly flicking you, like a tapping on your skin.”

“No. I feel them, but they don’t hurt, except for the ones she warns you about, like the ones on your toes. But no, they don’t hurt. You feel them, but it’s not like a pain or a pinch. You feel them working!”

“I associate healing with them so much that when I feel more sensation I feel that it’s an even more potent treatment!

“No. I always tell them it’s a little pinch, not even a mosquito bite type hurt.”

“No…unless it’s between the toes! What does it feel like? It’s so light…it doesn’t feel like a needle going in. You don’t even feel discomfort.”

Are the needles sterilized?

Yes, all the needles are pre-packaged, sterilized, used once on you and thrown away.