Frequently Asked Questions...
Following is a series of the most commonly asked questions in our clinic regarding acupuncture and Chinese medicine. We hope the answers provided will give the information necessary for you to make a well-informed decision about acupuncture and the treatments we can provide. It is our goal to help you move forward on your path to a better quality of life with health and healing. If you have questions that are not answered here, or elsewhere on the website, please contact us. We will also keep updating this page as new questions arise.
Acupuncture has a long history of treating many diseases and is one component of Chinese Medicine, which has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. It is based on the concept of bio-electricity that flows through our bodies and gets diverted for one reason or another. Very fine, filiform needles are inserted into the body at specific points to stimulate the movement of this energy and blood. Acupuncturists identify patterns of disharmony in particular pathways through which these forces circulate throughout the body and connect to internal organs and every cell. By discerning these patterns, points on the pathways can be stimulated to restore harmony at the deepest level to help heal for the body. And because the body works in a three/four dimensional way, the mind and spirit are also positively affected.
As one of the oldest continuously practiced forms of medical care in the world, acupuncture is used by one-third of the world's population as a primary health-care system. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have evaluated scientific research and clinical trials of acupuncture and found it to be effective for a wide range of conditions. Case-controlled clinical studies have shown that acupuncture has been an effective treatment for many diseases, symptoms or conditions:
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
By far, this is the most commonly asked question, and the answer is that acupuncture needles are extremely thin (25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle - and are solid, not hollow... nothing gets injected), most patients experience very little sensitivity to their insertion and is virtually painless. Once inserted, one should not feel any pain at all. Most patients fall asleep during the treatment...
Acute/Chronic Pain reduction or elimination
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Induction of labor
Malposition of fetus, correction
Periarthritis of shoulder
Simply bring your completed Health History, Consent to Treat and HIPPA forms. Everything else will be provided for you at your appointment. It is recommend that you wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing with an under garment. Many commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower arms and legs, but depending on the treatment and your presenting condition; other points further up the arms and legs or chest and back may be necessary. If you prefer, linens are always available.
Your initial evaluation and treatment will include a thorough medical and physical history followed by examination of the tongue and pulses, as well as palpation of any areas of pain. Your acupuncturist will then develop a treatment plan for the session and select specific acupuncture points to be needled. Sterilized disposable needles, that are as thin as a hair, will be inserted into the points and retained from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the location and desired therapeutic effect. Afraid of needles or needle-sensitive? Do not worry! We have other means to accomplish the goal, such as the use of magnets, laser or Shakuju. Your acupuncturist may also employ other modalities to enhance the effect of acupuncture including cupping, gua sha, infra-red heat therapy, and again, magnets and laser acupuncture.
What Will the Experience Be Like?
Many patients experience a relaxed and peaceful state during the session, in fact, many patients fall asleep during the treatment. Each person experiences their acupuncture treatments differently. Some may feel nothing, while others have sensations of heaviness, a dull ache, warmth and/or tingling. Your comfort before, during, and after acupuncture is of paramount importance. Be sure to communicate any concerns or reservations to your acupuncturist so the treatment can be modified, if necessary, to make you more comfortable.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
It is sometimes difficult to determine how many sessions will be needed because:
The number of treatments required can depend on the nature of the complaint
All patients respond to treatment differently
Different goals take varying amounts of time
The number of sessions needed will depend on your age, health, whether the condition is acute or chronic and how your body responds to treatment. Some acute problems may respond with just a few treatments to resolve it while other chronic conditions may require multiple treatments. A series of four to six treatments is found to be effective for many common complaints. Chronic conditions may require a series of treatments over a period of time.
Acupuncture assists your body to make changes that alleviate pain, balance your internal systems and restore energy levels. It is important to understand that these changes take time. Your acupuncturist will discuss an estimated number of treatments based on previous experience, while also taking into account the individual nature of each client's treatment and response. Once or twice a week is the minimum treatment frequency during the active healing phase. With frequent treatments, cumulative results add up and strides toward reduced symptoms and improved condition are usually measurable.
After the body is stronger and the condition is stable, the scheduled treatment frequency is reduced. Time between treatments can be stretched out to 10 days, 14 days, 21 days or just reduced to a monthly maintenance visit. Adjunct therapies and self-care techniques can be used to accelerate progress and reduce the number of treatments required. This may include Chinese herbal medicine, moxabustion, dietary and lifestyle recommendations, nutritional supplementation, energetic exercises, meditation and relaxation techniques.
For information on our acupuncture costs and insurance coverage, visit our Rates and Payment Options page.
What Are the Qualifications of My Acupuncturist?
Licensed acupuncturists have extensive training in both Chinese and Western Medicine. Most states require acupuncturists to pass the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) acupuncture certification exam (the gold standard of certification in the Oriental medical field in the United States). The minimum board requirements is the completion of a four-year master's degree program including 3000 hours of classroom instruction and 1800 hours of clinical residency.
In order to sit for the NCCAOM exam, one must have graduated from an accredited acupuncture college, and be certified in Clean Needle Technique by the CCAOM (Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). As part of the certification process, NCCAOM verifies transcripts and graduation status from accredited acupuncture colleges, and Clean Needle Technique certification. NCCAOM exams test for depth of knowledge and clinical expertise a diplomat must have in order to practice in the various disciplines of Oriental medicine. Oriental Medicine certification candidates must have completed required coursework in acupuncture, Chinese herbology as well as western, biomedical sciences, Tui Na massage, nutrition and Chinese dietary therapy, Tai Qi and Qi Gong (Chinese style meditative exercises used for therapeutic purposes). The NCCAOM maintains a “Find a Practitioner” page on their website to check national credentials.
Wyatt LaCoss, MAOM, Dipl.OM, Lic.Ac. is board certified by the NCCAOM in Oriental Medicine and licensed to practice acupuncture by the Board of Medicine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For more information on your practitioner, check out The Practice page.
Where Can I Learn More About Acupuncture?
The Health Resources page will provide you many links to your your acupuncture questions. If there is a specific question we can answer directly, please contact Wyatt LaCoss, MAOM, Dipl.OM., Lic.Ac. at email@example.com