What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient medical treatment based on regulating the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or “life energy,” which flows in the body along pathways called meridians. Hundreds of acupuncture points can be opened like gates to balance and harmonize the flow of Qi, relieving pain and many other symptoms of disease.
What one can say from extensive research in both China and the West is that acupuncture has measurable effects on the autonomic nervous system and therefore on vascular and endocrine physiology, on brain chemistry including a variety of neurotransmitters, and specifically on the production of endorphins, which is why it is used so extensively in the treatment of many types of pain.
What does acupuncture feel like?
Most patients look forward to acupuncture and discover that subtle changes they experience during treatments have long-term and profound results. A tiny pinch may be the only sensation you have as a needle is inserted. Then sometimes a slight ache, tingling or warm feeling may occur. The feeling is Qi moving because of the treatment. Generally, people describe acupuncture as relaxing, providing an overall sense of well being. Depending on which treatment you receive, you will feel calmer, more relaxed and feel less pain.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required depends on the patient’s condition. For a cold or flu, one or two treatments can be very helpful. Some illnesses, like a head cold, or migraine, can be addressed with just one or two treatments while chronic health conditions of many years require a longer course of treatment. Within the first few sessions, the effectiveness of the treatment should be evident and clear treatment goals can then be established.
Will my health insurance cover acupuncture treatment?
Insurance companies are beginning to recognize the cost effective benefits of including acupuncture in the plans they offer. Some do not cover acupuncture yet. However, Blue Cross/Blue/Shield, Aetna and Cigna are among the companies that do currently include acupuncture in their policies. We do NOT file insurance claims but can provide an invoice for patients to send to their insurance company for any possible reimbursement. It is always best to check with your insurance company. (Please note, if you are not covered, be sure to let them know you receive acupuncture treatment. As the insurance companies quantify the vast numbers of their policy holders receiving acupuncture they adjust their policies accordingly).
How should I select an acupuncture physician?
There are many health care options available to a patient today. Before selecting an acupuncture physician, be certain that the physician has graduated from a nationally accredited school that offers not only Traditional Chinese Medicine but also Western medical courses in a 3-4 year program. In the best interest of the patient, a combination of treatment principles can be highly effective.
The A.P. you select must be licensed to practice in your state and preferably will be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, (NCCAOM), a national organization established to regulate the practice of acupuncture. This ensures that your Acupuncture Physician has passed a rigorous battery of national examinations and is recognized as a professional by his or her peers.
Some western medical doctors offer treatment known as medical acupuncture, a kind of mini acupuncture based on a much shorter course of study. While an accredited masters level program in acupuncture includes over 2700 of study and clinic, some of the programs for physicians only offer about 200 hours. Acupuncturists who graduate from accredited programs have completed an extensive course of study of Oriental Medicine as well as of Western biomedical approaches to illness. Just as you might consider seeing a specialist for a specific issue, patients are frequently referred to acupuncturists who are capable of bringing the most effective aspects of Oriental Medicine into the conventional medical setting.