Does acupuncture hurt?

This is a very common question because people associate needles with pain from Western Medicine. Acupuncture needles are not anything like hypodermic needles used to administer medications in Western Medicine. Acupuncture needles are many times smaller in thickness and are solid with smooth endings.

People experience acupuncture needles differently and most patients feel only a minimal sensation as the needles are inserted. Some people feel no pain at all and others feel as short quick sensation upon insertion. Once the needles are in place, people may feel anything from nothing to a heaviness or lightness feeling.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe. There is little danger of infection because Acupuncturists undergo specific training called Clean Needle Technique and because the needles are sterile and used only one time after which they are discarded into a medical waste container.

What can I expect during an acupuncture treatment?

Your first visit often involves a more in-depth discussion about your primary health concern(s) and questions about your health, diet, lifestyle any previous illnesses, and the medications and supplements you are taking. There may be a non-invasive physical exam on the issue presenting and possibly some palpation will be done on the Acupuncture Meridians on your body looking for sensitive, tender, or reactive areas.

After palpation, the sterile, single use, disposable needle treatment will begin. After 20-40 minutes the needles are removed.

Most people experience the process relaxing and many fall asleep during the treatment. There may be a front and back of the body treatment on possibly only one side, depending on your body and diagnosis. The entire first session usually lasts between 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. Follow up visits are usually 45 min to 1.25 hours in length.

How often do I have to come for treatments?

This depends on several things: how long have you had the problem, what is the severity of the condition, what level of pain are you experiencing, what is the nature of the condition – is it internal or external. Some acute conditions such as a cold, may be resolved in one treatment.

Chronic long-term health problems may require a series of treatments. Usually, it takes 6 to 15, with a re-evaluation done at the end or part way through the treatment plan. Some illnesses which are life-long may require many treatments over an extended period of time. In general, treatments are usually done bi-weekly or on a weekly basis. Acute conditions may require more frequent visits initially to be resolved quickly and chronic conditions are often treated weekly then the sessions are tapered off as the problems resolve.

Ultimately your treatment plan is determined specifically for your body.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance?

It depends on your insurance coverage. The best answer to this question is to check with your insurance provider to see if they do cover and for what conditions. Many insurance providers will pay for acupuncture visits in pain related conditions. Other good questions to ask your insurance about your Acupuncture benefits is: How many treatments a year? Is there a deductible and has it been met? Do I have co-insurance?

How should I prepare for the treatment?

It is best to eat a light meal before your appointment so that you don’t have an empty stomach during the treatment. It’s possible that a person who has not eaten may feel lightheaded or weak during or after the treatment, or possibly be more sensitive to the needle insertions. Alcohol is to be avoided, as is excessive smoking or vigorous exercise prior to your session. You want to allow your body to be able to adjust to the changes that will occur during the Acupuncture session.

As for what to wear, loose fitting clothing that is comfortable, ideally that allows access to your arms and legs, and easy access to your abdomen. Shorts are great in the summer time, sweatpants or other similar loose fitting clothing is works well. Minimal make-up and avoid perfumes, colognes and other strong scented cosmetics as many patients have allergies or are sensitive to strong smells.