Most people barely feel a thing when needles are inserted. Some people feel a slight pinch, and others ask “Is it in yet?” The reason acupuncture needles don’t give the painful sensation you might expect is because they’re very, very thin in comparison to the hypodermic needles used to give injections. Hypodermic needles are necessarily hollow so that the shot can be injected. They also have a very blunt point (actually a wedge shape) in comparison to an acupuncture needle. Forty acupuncture needles can fit into the tip of one standard 18 gauge hypodermic needle.
There are certain sensations associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture, which are known as de qi (pronounced “day-chee”). These may include slight cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling or electric sensation traveling along a meridian. If any discomfort is experienced, it is usually mild.
Acupuncture is very safe. The average liability coverage for an acupuncturist is about $600 per year, while primary care physicians pay an average of $12,000 per year. That’s a 20:1 difference. While this may not translate into exactly a 20 to 1 difference in safety, a visit to an acupuncturist is at least as safe as a visit to your doctor, if not safer.
Acupuncture needles are extremely safe, because they are pre-sterilized, individually packaged, and disposable. Every practitioner gets extensive training in anatomy so as to avoid accidentally inserting a needle in a place that can cause damage.
Acupuncture and herbs work whether you believe in them or not. Good results are seen in the majority of cases. When all other treatment methods have failed, this indicates a systematic imbalance – exactly what acupuncture and herbs excel at treating. This being said, it is important that you do your best to let the acupuncture and herbal therapy work by cooperating with me through the process.
Please plan to make sure you eat about an hour before coming to your appointment. I have gowns to use if needed, but many like to come wearing shorts or comfortable loose clothing. Plan to fill out some paperwork so I can make a file for you. I set a good foundation for Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment plan by conducting a thorough interview on your first appointment. We will go over your medical history and current functioning in addition to your chief complaint. I will also look at your tongue and pulse. Then I will use all the information gathered to find what pattern of imbalance you are showing. Even a simple problem like back ache will improve faster by addressing the whole body in addition to targeting your current complaint. My patients really appreciate the one-on-one attention and the doctor-patient relationship, rather than being rushed along when they seek medical care.
On the first visit, you can plan on about one to two hours for your appointment, depending on your case. On your follow-up visits, you will be able to come and leave within an hour, so you can work it into your lunch hour if needed. I will begin these follow-up treatments by briefly asking you how you did with your last treatment and how you now feeling, to track the changes and plan your new treatment.
This entirely depends on the problem for which you are seeking help. How long have you had the problem, the severity of symptoms, your age and vitality — these are some of the factors that determine how many treatments you will need and how often you will come in for treatment. A more acute problem for a healthy individual may need only one treatment.
A chronic condition may take a little more treatment to start building up in the body and strengthening the body to help it heal; in such cases, I may see you twice in the first week and then once a week for about three weeks, and then re-evaluate. Chronic conditions may need around ten treatments to resolve. A very severe acute condition may take several treatments very close together to put you back on track.
Degenerative conditions may need maintenance over time. Acupuncture can do a very good job for overall wellness and anti-aging, for which some patients choose to come in on a maintenance level.
I do have a track record of giving very in-depth treatments and in helping my patients make progress fairly quickly.
Some insurers cover acupuncture. You can usually find out by calling the number on your insurance card. We provide a “superbill” that provides all the information you need to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. It is a standardized form which insurers expect. As a small business, it helps me keep my prices lower by receiving cash up front and letting my patients go through the reimbursement from their insurance company with the superbill I provide for them.
However, if you have insurance coverage for acupuncture and you have paid your deductible, I may be able to take your insurance. I may also be able to take Veteran’s Choice and will look into the potential for the benefit of my veteran community. Down the road, there may be Medicare coverage for acupuncture; our lobbyists are working on it for the benefit of the public.