Acupuncture FAQ


Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

 

What is Acupuncture?

Simply put, Acupuncture is the insertion of microfine needles to elicit a physiological change in the body. Acupuncture has been practiced for over 2000 years. It was originally practiced in China, but can now be found all over the world. Each culture that has adopted this powerful, natural medicine has added its influence to the practice of Acupuncture. In many areas of the world, including the US, there has been a trend toward blending modern medical practices and knowledge with the ancient practices rooted in balancing the natural systems of the body. This new blend is often referred to as “integrative medicine.” There are now thousands of studies using modern research tools such as blood-work, MRI’s, x-ray’s, etc. that are constantly expanding our understanding of Acupuncture and how it stimulates the body’s natural healing processes.

 

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How does Acupuncture work?
There are two primary ways in which modern medical practitioners answer this question:

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Theory: The traditional method of explaining how acupuncture works is through the ancient Chinese Medical System which describes the functions of the body in terms of Qi, Yin, and Yang, among several other ideas. Qi can be loosely described as the energies of the body, although that is considered by many to be an oversimplification. Yin and Yang are the two primary elements that make up all things, and should be balanced in a healthy body. They are both opposing and complimentary forces of nature, and Acupuncture seeks to balance and restore these primary elements of our bodies to restore and maintain health and wellbeing. Read more about Chinese medical theory here: Yin and Yang Theory

 

Acupuncture and Modern Science: The modern method of explaining how acupuncture works is through modern scientific evaluations of the physiological changes in the body as the result of acupuncture treatments. Modern research has shown acupuncture treatments can affect change through all of the primary pathways and systems of the body. These include: the circulatory and cardio-vascular system, the neuro-endocrine system, the gastro-intestinal system, the genitourinary system, and the immune system. Acupuncture (and Chinese Herbal Medications) can regulate hormones, pain, and the inflammatory response through the same bio-chemical pathways in the body as modern pharmaceuticals. However, it utilizes the body’s natural resources rather than introducing external chemical interventions that can stress the liver, kidneys and other organ systems. Read more about research based practices in acupuncture and Chinese medicine here: Acupuncture Research & Evidence Based Practices

 

 

How Safe is Acupuncture?
In California, the practice of Acupuncture is regulated by the CA Acupuncture Board (CAB) which was formed to protect public health and safety. One must be a licensed practitioner to practice acupuncture in CA. There are very rigorous training and educational requirements for acupuncturists in CA. There is a minimum requirement of 3000 hours education and training, and CA practitioners must also pass a stringent written exam to obtain a license to practice.

Acupuncture is generally a very safe procedure. When practiced by a licensed acupuncturist, there is minimal risk of side-effect or injury. Read more about the safety of acupuncture treatments in a study on the safety of acupuncture published in the BMJ (Formerly the British Medical Journal): The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists

Under California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Section 1399.454, acupuncturists are required to use single use, disposable needles. At Three Pillars Acupuncture, we use high quality, single use, sterile needles. All used acupuncture needles are disposed of immediately upon removal in secure biohazard waste containers. These “sharps” containers are disposed of through environmentally contentious methods on a regular basis.

 

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What are the Needles Like?

Acupuncture needles are solid, and are not used to inject solutions or medicines into the body like needles used by MD’s. They are made of high quality surgical steel, and are typically 0.20 to 0.25 mm in diameter – essentially the thickness of a human hair! By comparison, one can insert 20 or more acupuncture needles into the tip of the hypodermic needles used for flu injections or vaccinations.

 

Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Acupuncture should not be painful when practiced by a qualified practitioner. As noted above, acupuncture needles are much smaller than the hypodermic needles used by your MD for vaccinations and other injections. The needles are essentially painless, but sometimes a sensation like a mosquito bite may be felt upon insertion; this passes very quickly. Sometimes one may experience a mild, achy sensation during the treatment as the needles are “doing their work” to stimulate your body’s natural repair mechanisms. There are other sensations that may be experienced during a treatment that vary from person to person, however these are typically not uncomfortable. If you were to experience anything uncomfortable during a treatment, simply let your acupuncturist know and he or she can make an adjustment to ensure you remain comfortable and are able to relax and enjoy your treatment!

 

Occasionally people who are being treated for chronic pain or a significant postural/orthopedic condition may experience some soreness or mild discomfort after a treatment as the body adjusts to a healthier state. This should pass after a few hours, and most people report a significant, lasting reduction in pain after this temporary discomfort.

 

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How are Acupuncturists Licensed?
In California, the practice of Acupuncture is regulated by the CA Acupuncture Board (CAB) which was formed to protect the public health and safety. One must be a licensed practitioner to practice acupuncture in CA. There are very rigorous training and educational requirements for acupuncturists in CA. There is a minimum requirement of 3000 hours education and training, and CA practitioners must also pass a stringent written exam to obtain a license to practice. Additionally, licensed acupuncturists are required to complete continuing education to stay educated on the latest medical research and techniques, and must renew their licenses every two years. Acupuncturists are considered to be licensed primary healthcare providers under CA regulations.

 

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What Happens During a Treatment?
Your acupuncturist may insert from between 8-20 acupuncture needles, depending on the condition being treated. These will be retained for anywhere from 15-40 minutes while you lie on a treatment table. We may also use some other treatment modalities such as cupping, gua sha, soft tissue manipulation, and often patients are prescribed Chinese Herbal Medicines as a “home care” that compliments your acupuncture treatment on a daily basis.

 

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What Does it Feel Like During a Treatment?

This can vary from person to person and depending on what is being treated. Most often, the treatment is very relaxing and comfortable. It is not uncommon for people to doze off during a treatment! After the treatment, people usually report feeling very relaxed and have an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Some people may feel energized and refreshed, and very often people report they have a very deep and refreshing sleep the night following a treatment.

 

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What Should I Wear to my Acupuncture Appointment?
Wear clothes that are loose fitting and comfortable – perhaps something that might be worn to the gym or a Yoga class. Clothes that may be easily rolled up to access the legs to the knees and/or the arms to the elbows.

 

It is best to have eaten about an hour before your treatment. This gives your body the energy and nourishment it needs to begin making repairs as the result of the acupuncture treatment.

 

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How Long Does a Treatment Take?
The first session typically takes about 90 minutes, which is a little longer than the following sessions. This is because we need to get to know each other, and the initial exam will include a complete medical history. It is important to complete your required forms before your first session – after scheduling your appointment, a link will be sent to you by email so you can complete your these forms online.

 

Subsequent treatments may take from between 45 to 60 minutes. Herbal Consultations can take as little as 30 minutes.
It is best to have eaten about an hour before your treatment. This gives your body the energy and nourishment it needs to begin making repairs as the result of the acupuncture treatment.

 

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How Long Does it Take to Feel Results?
This can vary somewhat from person to person. While the majority of people will feel positive changes after the first session, some may progress through a complete course of treatment more quickly than others. This also depends on the severity of the condition or injury.
For acute conditions (generally those conditions that have lasted fewer than 3 months time) a full course of treatment may require only 3-6 treatments.
Chronic conditions (generally those conditions that have lasted greater than 3 months time) may require more long term care.
Some people feel dramatic results quickly while others may require several treatments before realizing more significant results. A more accurate, individual prognosis can be made after the initial exam and treatment.

 

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