Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

1) What is acupuncture?

  • Acupuncture is one of the modalities of Oriental medicine. Although what is called acupuncture in the West comprises several different therapies (such as moxibustion and cupping), mostly it consist of the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. These points have been mapped by the Chinese over a period of 2,000 years, and there are more than 1,000 known acupoints. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of these points.

2) What problems can be treated by acupuncture?

3) How does acupuncture work?

  • Modern Western medicine cannot yet explain how acupuncture works. Traditional Asian acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of qi (a fine, essential substance which nourishes and constructs the body) through distinct channels that cover the body somewhat like nerves and blood vessels. According to this theory, acupuncture adjusts the flow of qi in the body, leading to areas where it is insufficient and draining it from areas where it is stuck and/or superabundant. In this way, acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts. In Chinese, there is a saying, "If there is pain, there is no free flow; if there is free flow, there is no pain." Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the free flow of qi.

4) Is acupuncture safe?

  • When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturist today use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles. So there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion.

5) Does acupuncture hurt? 

  • Occasionally, the initial needle insertion may be felt, otherwise, acupuncture should not hurt as the needles are significantly thinner than typical needles used for drawing blood.  Any discomfort with a needle should be communicated to your acupuncturist so that the needle can be adjusted and the discomfort removed.

6) How many treatments will I need? 

  • That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 5-10 treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments, your practitioner may suggest dietary modifications, specific exercise regimens, relaxation techniques, self-massage, and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which may help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture.

7) Is there anything I need to do before an acupuncture treatment?

The following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:

  • Wear loose clothing. Women should not wear one piece dresses and avoid wearing stockings.
  • Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, or emotionally upset.
  • Have some food within 1-2 hours before your treatment.

8) Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?

  • Relax. Ask your practitioner any questions you have along the way so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment.
  • Do not change your position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner.

9) What can I expect after treatment?

  • Patients often experience dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better.