WHAT KINDS OF AILMENTS IS ACUPUNCTURE USED TO TREAT?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize Acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical problems. According to WHO, the following are some of the more common conditions treatable by Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture:
- Upper Respiratory Tract: Acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, acute tonsillitis
- Respiratory System: Acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma (most effective in children and in patients without complicating diseases)
- Disorders of the Eye: Acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, myopia (in children), cataract (without complications)
- Disorders of the Mouth: Toothache, post-extraction pain, gingivitis, acute and chronic pharyngitis
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Spasms of esophagus and cardia, hiccough, gastroptosis, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief), acute duodenal ulcer (without complications), acute and chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, paralytic ileus
- Neurological and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Headache and migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy (early stage, i.e. within three to six months), pareses following a stroke, peripheral neuropathies, sequelae of poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months), Meniere’s disease, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, “frozen shoulder,” “tennis elbow,” sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it successfully treats conditions ranging from musculoskeletal problems (back pain, neck pain, and others) to nausea, migraine headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and infertility.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Acupuncture stimulates specific points near the surface of the skin that have the ability to alter biochemical and physiological conditions in the body. Since acupuncture points are designated areas of electrical sensitivity, inserting needles at these points stimulates sensory receptors. This in turn stimulates nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain. The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones (thought to be some 200 times more potent than morphine). Endorphins play a significant role in the hormonal system, which is why acupuncture is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, PMS and infertility. The substances released as a result of acupuncture relax the body, and also regulate serotonin in the brain, which affects emotional states. Other physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count, which supports the immune system.
ARE THERE RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS TO ACUPUNCTURE?
The acupuncture needle is a fine, disposable (one-time use), sterile, FDA-approved medical device. While acupuncture is a highly safe form of physical medicine, there are a few risks. These include bruising, fainting, muscle spasms, bleeding, nerve damage (extremely rare) and punctured organs (extremely rare).
DO ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES HURT?
There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. One reason is that they are much finer than those used for injections and blood tests (25 to 50 times thinner than hypodermic needles). Moreover, the actual insertion is done very quickly. While some feel nothing at all, others experience a brief moment of discomfort, sometimes followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling or numbness. These are all desirable sensations known as “attaining qi”. The needles are left in place for 20 to 30 minutes. Most people find the experience relaxing, and some even fall asleep during sessions.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON MY FIRST VISIT?
For your initial consultation, the acupuncturist needs to assess your general health. You will be asked about your current symptoms and any treatment you have received so far. It is also important to gather detailed information about your medical history and that of your family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. The purpose is to identify what needs to be addressed in order to target your specific complaint, and to boost your overall vitality.
Stimulation of specific areas affects the functioning of various organs. However, those areas may not be close to the part of the body where you are experiencing a problem. For example, if you suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or hand. There are 365 specific acupuncture points on the body, and an unlimited number of non-specific points. An experienced acupuncturist will use a selection of these for each session. Often during the course of a few sessions, different points will be selected as the patient’s condition changes.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE TREATMENT?
It helps to be in a calm state. Try to arrive 5 or 10 minutes before your appointment to give yourself a chance to relax. Try to avoid the following:
- Eating a big meal within one hour of your appointment
- Fasting for more than six hours before your appointment
- Alcohol, tobacco, food or drinks that color your tongue (such as coffee) immediately prior to treatment or just following a treatment
- Vigorous exercise or sexual activity within the hour before treatment
We also recommend that you avoid wearing any metallic jewelry, watches, or earrings. Makeup and nail polish should be minimized or eliminated. Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or strongly scented cosmetics.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
We provide sheets for coverage at Avida Center, so feel free to come dressed as you are. If you prefer to remain fully clothed during treatment, please wear comfortable loose fitting clothes in which we can easy access your arms, legs, and torso.
HOW LONG DO APPOINTMENTS LAST?
The length of acupuncture sessions varies depending on your condition. Typically, your first visit will be longer than your subsequent visits. Sessions can be as short as 30 minutes to as long as two hours.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
Length, number and frequency of sessions vary. For most conditions, a series of several sessions is necessary to achieve the maximum benefit.
A typical series of sessions consists of 6 to 12 visits, once or twice a week, with sessions lasting 30 to 90 minutes each. Acute conditions, such as sprains, generally require less time and frequency, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several (or several dozen) sessions. Appointments are scheduled further and further apart after the optimal response has been achieved. Some people experience great benefits from weekly or monthly sessions.
HOW WILL I FEEL AFTER ACUPUNCTURE?
Patients normally feel relaxed and calm. You may feel sore, tired or drowsy for a few hours if the experience is particularly strong. You may also experience a short-term flair-up of symptoms in the healing process. After a session, it is a good idea to sit quietly and relax. A gentle walk or very mild exercise can also be helpful. Avoid big meals, vigorous exercise, alcohol and stressful situations.
HOW MUCH DOES ACUPUNCTURE COST?
Each patient has unique concerns. The cost of treatment depends on the types of therapy needed and the length of therapy needed. Your ability to pay should not be a factor if you need to be treated. Please contact our office. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions and to help you in any way we can.
WHAT FORMS OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT?
Our office accepts cash, check, or credit cards. If your health insurance policy covers acupuncture, you may only be responsible for co-pay. Since insurance coverage is not guaranteed, our policy at Avida Center is to collect cash payment prior to initial insurance reimbursement.
WHAT TRAINING IS REQUIRED TO PRACTICE ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture licensure requires students to have graduated from a nationally accredited Acupuncture College with a Master’s level degree or higher in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. These graduates, then, need to pass a state or national licensing exam before a license to practice is issued.