How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture consists of the insertion of hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles through the skin in points along the body’s meridians. Acupuncture needles are solid (as opposed to the hollow-bore needles used for injections), made of stainless steel, and extremely flexible. Their tiny diameter and pin-needle shape allow them to be inserted quickly and painlessly just a few millimeters (deeper in fleshier areas). The needles can then be stimulated manually or by the application of heat or electrical impulses to further activate a person’s qi.
What can acupuncture treat?
A better question might be “What can’t acupuncture treat?” Chinese medicine treatment focuses on the well being of the entire person, not simply on the physical complaints and symptoms, and as such can be used either as a primary or a complementary treatment for virtually any medical condition known.
A main difference between the treatment approaches of Chinese medicine and Western (allopathic) medicine is that the Chinese medicine clinician views disease as stemming from an imbalance affecting the whole of the body rather than a separate, distinct pathogen to be cut out, irradiated, or bombarded with chemicals that oftentimes carry serious side effects. This holistic approach allows the Chinese medicine clinician to treat both the “branch” (the physical manifestations of the disease) while also addressing “root” of the disorder (the imbalance that gave rise to the disease in the first place), simultaneously working to treat the disease and prevent its recurrence.
Among the disorders we commonly treat are colds and flus, headaches and migraines, anxiety and depression, PMS and menstrual disorders, digestive disturbances, urinary difficulty, fertility problems, immune disorders, and all sorts of bodily aches and pains, including carpal-tunnel syndrome, stiff neck, chronic and acute back pain, arthritis and joint problems, sciatica, muscle strain, sprained ankle, and so forth.
Do I need to be sick to try acupuncture?
No, far from it. In fact, the Chinese have an ancient proverb that states “Treating an illness once symptoms arise is like digging a well when you’re thirsty.” The beauty of Chinese medicine is that its fundamental goal is to bring the body back to a state of balance—homeostasis—and who among us wouldn’t benefit from a re-balancing?
It’s a widely recognized fact that stress is the root cause of many, if not most, of our illnesses, and acupuncture is a wonderful tool to combat stress. Many of my patients come in for weekly or monthly “tune-ups” even when they’re not feeling particularly out of sorts. Combined with a moderate lifestyle, a wholesome diet, regular exercise, and a positive outlook, Chinese medicine treatments can help keep you healthy, hardy, and spry despite the chaotic influences of the modern world.
How long will my treatment take?
It varies with each patient. Many acute conditions, such as catching a cold or spraining an ankle, tend to respond well and quickly to prompt treatment, while chronic or longer-term disorders (PMS, depression, eczema) may take longer to resolve. Over the course of treatment, however, you should see an overall improvement in your health while your chief complaint is addressed.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe. Serious side effects are very rare—less than one incident per 10,000 treatments. The most common side effect of acupuncture, though rare, is minor bruising at the insertion site. And we can even treat that too!
To minimize the risk of infection, I use only the highest quality sterile, single-use needles in my clinic.
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