the power of acupuncture

Acupuncture is an over 5,000-year-old Eastern medicine practice that originated in   China. It has also been long-used in Japan and Korea, with each of these societies employing their own unique method to help patients recover from disease and/or alleviate disabilities.

Acupuncture uses extremely thin needles to stimulate certain points on the body’s meridians to reduce pain and activate anti-inflammatory effects, and promote healing.

Is acupuncture painful?
Contrary to common belief that needle pricks cause pain, acupuncture needles are designed very differently than injection needles that deliver medications or extract blood. Acupuncture needles have no internal lumen (canal); hence, they are extremely fine. They also roll around vessels so as to not puncture veins and capillaries as other needles are intended to do. Some acupuncture needles are so small and fine that they are barely felt when inserted.

Is acupuncture effective?
Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective for pain management, particularly back pain. Throughout the world, patients also use acupuncture as an anesthesia alternative, particularly for pregnant women with labor pains.

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
Conditions that acupuncture addresses include: back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee and ankle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines and headaches, insomnia, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, allergies, constipation, menstrual cramps, tinnitus, dental pain and labor pains.

Is acupuncture covered by medical insurance?
In 2020, Medicare approved the use of acupuncture for treatment of chronic low back pain, allowing 12 to 20 visits. Many private insurance carriers also cover acupuncture treatment for back pain and other musculoskeletal pain, and worker’s compensation covers certain acupuncture benefits. Insurance verifications done by you or your acupuncturist can help you determine if you are covered for these services.

How many visits are needed?
Many patients with painful conditions or even lack of sensation caused by nerve damage may benefit from acupuncture. The number of treatments needed varies from person to person. Acute pain management treatment is more effective with acupuncture rather than long-standing problems. Plan on at least 10 to 12 treatment sessions, done over four to six weeks, to see improvement. If, after 12 sessions, no benefits are seen, other approaches should be considered. Acupuncture treatment, along with physical therapy and chiropractic care, in certain cases, has an overall benefit for musculoskeletal disorders.

Who can perform acupuncture?
Acupuncture should only be done by a licensed acupuncturist who has had sufficient training and experience. Some insurances require physician acupuncturists to supervise the sessions.

What are the side effects?
Unlike medications which have long lists of side effects, acupuncture has very few side effects. Needles are sterile packaged as single use and disposed thereafter, making infections caused by acupuncture needles extremely rare.

There may be soreness, mild bleeding or bruising at the site. If one is pregnant, the patient should inform the acupuncturist to ensure certain points are avoided so as not to induce labor. Acupuncture is extremely helpful for back pain during pregnancy but care must be used.

What can you expect after an acupuncture session?
Most people feel relaxed or energized after an acupuncture session. This depends on which points were used to activate the body. If you would like a relaxing acupuncture session, you can ask your acupuncturist for that at the start of the session. Not all patients respond to treatment with acupuncture. Go with an open mind to healing and use the time when needles are inserted to meditate and focus on your breath without judgment. Meditation plus acupuncture can do wonders for pain management. Pain reduction may not occur right after the session but may be noticed 24 to 48 hours later.

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