Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – a complete, professional medical system that has been continuously practiced in China for at least 2500 years. Other main TCM modalities include Chinese herbal medicine, therapeutic massage and dietary therapy. In Western countries, acupuncture is probably the most commonly known TCM treatment although Chinese herbal medicine is rapidly becoming more popular.
Acupuncture FAQ: What’s acupuncture good for?
According to the World Health Organization the following ailments and conditions generally respond well to acupuncture:
- Muscle strains, pain
- Joint pain
- Acute & chronic neck & back pain
- Irregular menstruation, painful menstruation
- Constipation & diarrhea
- Post-stroke paralysis
- Addictions – overeating, smoking & drug dependence
This is not a definitive list though – there are many other conditions acupuncture successfully treats.
Acupuncture FAQ: What happens during a treatment?
Initially the acupuncturist will spend up to 30 minutes asking about your complaint, such as how long you’ve had the problem, your current symptoms, your health history, your diet, your sleeping habits and bowel movements and other information that may seem irrelevant to you – just remember that TCM is an holistic medical system that recognizes the link between body, mind and emotions. Your physical ailment may well have an emotional component too.
Depending on your problem you will lie on the treatment table face down, or on your back, or on one side. Usually from 4-12 acupuncture pointsare selected. The most common points are on your arms below your elbows, on your legs below your knees and along either side of your spine from your neck to your sacrum. Each point is swabbed with alcohol before the needle is inserted.
The acupuncturist may ask you to report any sensations of tingling or warmth around the site of the needles. These sensations indicate that the point has been correctly located. Generally, the needles are left in place for about 20 minutes, but painful conditions may need longer treatment time. A common acupuncture benefit is that it’s usually very relaxing – all you have to do is lie still and it’s quite common for people to fall asleep during their treatment.
Acupuncture FAQ: Does acupuncture hurt?
If you’ve never had acupuncture this is an obvious question to ask. However acupuncture needles are extremely fine and usually you will just feel a sensation like a small prick as the needle is inserted. The sensation does vary depending on where the needles are inserted but very few people say acupuncture hurts. They are usually more concerned about whether acupuncture will work for them and whether the needles are clean (acupuncture needles are single-use disposables).
Acupuncture FAQ: How often will I need acupuncture?
A typical regiment consists of 1-2 treatments a week, for several weeks. Once results are achieved, the treatments can be less frequent. To enhance acupuncture treatments many acupuncturists also prescribe Chinese herbal medicine. These days Chinese herbal medicine is available in many forms, like pill, tablet, granule and powder, making it easy and convenient to take.
Acupuncture FAQ: How many treatments will I need?
Overall treatment time is dependent on many factors such as the nature and severity of your complaint, how long you’ve had it, your age, your general health, your lifestyle and how much you are willing to do to assist the healing process.
Also as TCM views each of us as a unique individual, people with the same complaint will most likely receive entirely different treatment and will respond to it differently. Your acupuncturist will best be able to tell you how many treatments you need after he/she has diagnosed your particular problem according to TCM principles.
How do I choose an Acupuncturist?
The National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies Acupuncturist after completing an accredited Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Program. The highest level of board certification is OM (Oriental Medicine). This includes Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine certifications. With this board certification, practitioners are licensed under the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine . To find a board certified OM Practitioner, you can search the NCCAOM Registry here.
If you have any additional questions regarding Acupuncture, please contact us.