What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a highly respected modality based on Eastern principles that attempt to alter the interaction between the body, mind and environment. It involves the placement of sterilized needles into the skin at traditional acupuncture points to relieve pain and/or other symptoms. Acupuncture needles placed in acupuncture points generate electricity along the meridians that were defined and mapped more than 2,500 years ago. Clinical studies demonstrate that belief in acupuncture is not necessary for it to produce benefits.

Does Acupuncture Really Work?

Yes. Across its long history, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia and in Europe and today it is used by an increasing number of American physicians and patients.

Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time as other treatments are being used including conventional Western medicine and osteopathic or naturopathic prescriptions. It is critical that the medical acupuncturist be informed about every therapy that the patient is receiving in order for him/her to arrive at the most individualized and appropriate care plan.

Is there a difference between medical acupuncture and traditional acupuncture?

Medical Acupuncture is performed by physicians trained in Western Medicine such as medical Doctors (MD) and doctors of osteopathy (DO). Traditional acupuncture, on the other hand, is performed by non-physicians. These practitioners may add herbs which may not have been evaluated for their potential long-term negative side-effects and interactions with pharmaceuticals.

How many treatments are required?

The acupuncturist creates a care plan according to symptoms and diagnoses. Frequency of treatment can vary from one session only to more frequent sessions.

Do I have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?

No. Just as with any other treatment, however, a positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce its effects. Research shows that a negative attitude (“I don’t think this will work,”) or neutral attitude (“I don’t know if I really believe in this,”) will not impair the results of acupuncture treatment.

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture needles are as thin as a human hair and as gentle as a mosquito bite, therefore, discomfort is rare. Usually, there are no side effects to acupuncture treatment. Bruising is an unusual side-effect. Acupuncture needles are not hollow and therefore less likely to cut than other medical needles. Because needles are sterile and not inserted into infected or otherwise damaged skin, there is little or no chance of infection. Fainting and lightheadedness rarely occur (usually to big burly men when they see the needles entering). Pneumothorax (lung puncture) is an extremely rare result. Some patients may experience temporary changes in appetite, sleep, bowel and urinary habits and malaise. These temporary symptoms usually last less than 48 hours and indicate that the treatments are more likely to work. Blood thinners do not present a problem.

Are there any behavior restrictions on the day of treatment?

  1. Avoid using tobacco, alcohol, steroids, narcotics and tranquilizers.
  2. Avoid physical exertion strenuous enough to cause sweating, including sex.
  3. Avoid meals that cause fullness or feelings of being stuffed. Eat only until not hungry. Avoid uncomfortably hot, cold or spicy foods.

These activities may decrease the effect of acupuncture. The above restrictions are lifted after a full night’s sleep.

Are Acupuncture treatments covered by insurance?

Insurance coverage depends on insurance plan coverage; the condition being treated; referral by a primary health care provider; pre-certification; medical necessity of treatment; network status, and/or the qualifications of the acupuncturist. Dr. Shen’s office staff will be happy to help answer specific questions with regard to insurance.