What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient branch of Chinese medicine. It has been used for more than 2000 years to treat every ailment known to mankind. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into different points on the body with the intention of moving qi (life force) and blood through the meridians (energetic pathways) of the body.
Acupuncture needles are many times finer than hypodermic needles, almost as fine as a human hair, so the sensation of an acupuncture needle being inserted is nothing like the feeling of getting an injection. Once the needle is in, you may feel sensations of warmth, coolness, numbness, tingling, heaviness or electricity. Most people find the experience relaxing and rejuvenating. Acupuncture is extremely safe, and can be used to treat a variety of ailments.
Acupuncture can be used to treat:
Chronic and acute pain
Immune system disorders
What to expect?
The first thing you will do when you come for an acupuncture treatment is to fill out a health history form. You can download a copy of my Health History Form on the "Services" page if you want to check it out or if you want to print it and fill it out it in advance of your first treatment. My health history form asks a lot of questions that aren’t typically on a doctor’s form, but a body/mind/spirit medical practitioner is interested in information in addition to what an allopathic practitioner would require.
After you fill out the form, we will spend some time going over it and discussing your reasons for coming to see me. This conversation may take as little as half an hour or as much as two hours, depending on your situation. At the end of our conversation, I will feel the pulses at both of your wrists and look at your tongue. These are typical diagnostic methods of Chinese medicine – the pulses are said to indicate the status of the eleven primary organs and their associated meridians, and the tongue has a reflexological association that gives me another perspective on what may be going on inside you. Because an acupuncturist doesn’t run lab tests or examine you with special imaging tools, I must listen to, feel and look at a patient very carefully in order to have an idea about what is going on with the whole person.
At the end of this examination, I may send you out of my office for a few minutes while I come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan, or I may just tell you right away what I think. I always try to work in short chunks – say, two or three treatments – and then take a pause to give my patients an opportunity to assess what has taken place and decide whether the treatment has been effective and whether they have arrived at their destination or need more treatment. When I have arrived at a diagnosis and initial treatment plan, I will briefly discuss it with you in order to explain my thinking and get your feedback. Then we will go into one of my two treatment rooms and I will help you prepare for your treatment. I'll have you remove your shoes and socks, and may tell you to push your pant legs up, un-do a button or roll your sleeves up, but in general you will remain clothed when I treat you. You should try to wear "something you can pull up and something you can pull down," when you get acupuncture, but if I need you to remove an article of clothing, I'll give you a towel or sheet to cover yourself with. I will also tell you how I need you to position yourself on the treatment table and will help you get as comfortable as possible with pillows, bolsters, heaters, fans, etc. Then I will insert the needles in the acupuncture points I have selected, add any other techniques (electrical stimulation, heat, massage) that accompany the acupuncture, dim the lights, and leave you alone for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the specific treatment approach.
After your time is up, I will come back and remove the needles, give you any further instructions, and your treatment will be complete. You should be able to drive yourself home without any problem, but sometimes people feel a little spacey or drowsy after an acupuncture treatment, so you may want to sit down and have a drink of water before you hit the road. I do recommend that you bring someone with you, especially to your first treatment, because two sets of ears are more likely to hear everything I have to say. Although Classical Chinese medicine holds together very well as a system of thought, most of its concepts are completely alien to Western patients, so having a spouse, parent, child or friend listen in is usually pretty helpful. After your treatment is complete, I will take your payment and give you a claim form that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement, although unfortunately most private insures don’t cover acupuncture. I accept cash, checks, flex-spending account cards and debit and credit cards for payment.