Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting extremely thin needles at very precise acupuncture points.
Acupuncture is not magic, nor is it a cure-all, but it has been proven for centuries to be effective for a wide range of medical problems, as a compliment to traditional medicine.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is medical acupuncture?
Medical Acupuncture combines traditional medical knowledge with the principles of ancient Chinese medicine. A physician specializing in Medical Acupuncture has combined traditional medical training with extensive study and clinical practice in acupuncture. In the United States, Medical Acupuncture is taught at the School of Medicine at UCLA, in an intensive nine month course, available only to licensed physicians. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both as the need arises, to treat an illness.
What is the scope of medical acupuncture?
Medical Acupuncture is a system that can influence three areas of health care:
1. Promotion of health and well-being.
2. Prevention of illness.
3. Treatment of various medical conditions.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatments.
The World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health recognize the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:
-Digestive disorders: gastritis, hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation and diarrhea.
-Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis and asthma.
-Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, tennis elbow, low back pain, sciatica and osteoarthritis.
-Urinary problems, menstrual issues and infertility. Acupuncture is particularly helpful in resolving physical problems related to tension, stress and emotional conditions.
How does acupuncture work?
The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are specific patterns of energy that flow through the body and are essential for health. Disruption of this flow is believed to be responsible for disease. The acupuncturist can correct imbalances of this flow at specific locations close to the skin's surface.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system, releasing neurochemicals. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones that influence the body's own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture, results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Is there scientific proof?
There have been many studies across the world, that have extensively tested the chemical and electrical responses of the body, to the insertion of acupuncture needles. These experiments proved that such interventions can produce reactions within the body that Western physicians thought could only be achieved through the use of drugs. The studies in the United States and Canada showed clear evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture for treatment of post-operative pain, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting and treatment of multiple musculoskeletal conditions, without the side effects of drugs.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No, many studies were conducted by administering acupuncture to animals. The results were clear that animals, who obviously had no preconceived notions, showed measurable improvement.
What are the needles like?
Acupuncture needles are very thin, solid and are made from stainless steel. The tips are smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion into the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is much lower compared to hollow, serrated needles.
We use only disposable, sterile needles, so there is minimal risk of infection from the treatment.
Are there any side-effects?
As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms worsen for a few days or other general changes in appetite, sleep, personal bathroom patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. This should not cause concern, as they are simple indications that the acupuncture has started to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation, mild disorientation, or generalized soreness immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time and will never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.
Can I have acupuncture in combination with traditional medical techniques?
In most cases the answer is yes. Acupuncture can be used in combination with traditional medicine, osteopathic adjustments, physical therapy, herbal medicine, and homeopathic prescriptions.
The obvious advantage to acupuncture from a medical acupuncture physician is that they can coordinate, supervise, and combine the various forms of treatments that you are receiving.
Will acupuncture work immediately? How many treatments will I need?
There are no set rules regarding the onset of the effect of an acupuncture treatment; sometimes it takes a couple of minutes, for other people it takes several days to feel the effects. It depends not only on your specific ailment, but on your own total body reaction.
The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended; however, for acute problems, usually fewer visits are required. Finally, for health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.
Can acupuncture cure me?
Acupuncture, as stated above, is not magic. Like traditional medicine, it is a sophisticated system of medical diagnosis and treatment. While it is effective for a wide range of problems, there are other situations where it is not applicable. It is always wise to analyze the problem from all points of view in order to choose the most appropriate course of action or combination of treatments for each individual.
Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
Most Pennsylvania health insurance policies do not cover acupuncture. Occasionally, however, major medical policies will pay for the treatments. The office will provide you with a receipt after each treatment documenting the appropriate diagnosis and procedures. This receipt may be attached to your insurance claim form and submitted to your insurer for reimbursement, if applicable.
Because most insurances do not cover medical acupuncture, we do not accept insurance for acupuncture visits. We will, however, be happy to file a claim for you with your insurance and refund any payments we receive.