Copyright © 2013 California Acupuncture Center. All rights reserved.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture is a family of procedures originating in China, the most well known of which involves penetration of specific anatomic locations on the skin, called acupuncture points, by thin, solid, generally metallic needles.  Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used forms of natural, traditional medicine in the world—dating back 5000 years.  It is based on the ancient Chinese theory of the flow of Qi (Energy) and Xue (Blood) through distinct meridians or pathways that cover and fill the body, somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels do.   Healthy, open meridians where energy and blood can flow freely are essential for optimal health.  Acupuncture treatment is rendered based on Chinese medical diagnosis, which includes assessment of pulse quality, shape and color of the tongue, medical history, and whole body evaluation.  Chinese medicine and acupuncture work to treat the whole patient and the root of a problem.

What is Acupuncture?

Following the Chinese Medicine diagnosis, acupuncture needles are inserted into the body at specific points along acupuncture "meridians," or pathways, which stimulates the body’s healing energy or qi.  The body has approximately one thousand acupuncture points.   Electromagnetic research has confirmed their locations.  Neurophysiologist Bruce Pomeranz at the University of Toronto suggests that the needles trigger the nervous system, releasing painkilling and inflammation-reducing substances. According to ancient theory, acupuncture allows Qi to flow to areas where it is deficient, and away from areas where it is in excess.  In this way, acupuncture regulates and restores a harmonious energetic balance in the body.  In Chinese there is a saying, "There is no pain if there is free flow; if there is pain, there is no free flow."

How does Acupuncture Work?

What problems can be treated by acupuncture?

On November 5, 1997, a panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that there is clear evidence that acupuncture needle treatment is effective for nausea and vomiting from postoperative condition as well as chemotherapy, morning sickness, and postoperative dental pain.  The 12-member panel also concluded in their consensus statement that there are a number of other pain-related conditions for which acupuncture may be effective.  These conditions include but are not limited to fibromyalgia (general muscle pain), low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma.

In our clinic, acupuncture has been very effective for many illnesses such as these

MUSCULOSKELETAL

  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Acute/chronic back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Sciatica
  • Foot pain

NEUROLOGICAL / NERVOUS SYSTEM

  • Headache
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Insomnia
  • Stress disorders
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy

GYNECOLOGICAL

  • Infertility (female/male)
  • Menstrual pain
  • PMS
  • And many other female health problems

RESPIRATORY

  • Asthma
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Common cold
  • Allergies/hay fever

GASTROINTESTINAL

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

OTHERS

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Car accident complication and more
  • Assist Cancer Therapies
  • Meniere’s disease

The number of treatments depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint.  You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition or a series of five to fifteen treatments may resolve many chronic problems.  Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time, as well as Chinese herbs and lifestyle and dietary changes.

How many treatments will I need?

This clinic uses only sterilized, individually packaged disposable needles.  The needles come in various sizes.  Depending upon the nature of the problem, the location of the points selected, and the patient’s size, age, and constitution, needles can be inserted from ¼ to 3 inches in depth. 

How does acupuncture feel?

At the time the needle is inserted, one may feel soreness or slight pain; some patients describe it as an "ant sting."  While the needles remain inserted, for approximately 25 minutes, the patient may feel some cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling, or an electrical sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian, or energy pathway.  In any case, if you experience any discomfort after the treatment, it is usually mild and short term. Because the purpose of acupuncture is to balance your body, there are no long-term negative side effects.  On the contrary, relaxation and a sense of well-being often occur during and after treatment.  Many patients fall asleep while the needles are inserted because of this sense of relaxation and balance.

What types of needles are used?

Electro-Acupuncture is when the acupuncture needles are inserted and then attached to a small device that puts out a tiny electrical current.  This current runs through the needles and increases the efficacy of the treatment.  It feels like a light pulse and is not painful or uncomfortable.  It acts to increase the strength of the treatment.

What is Electro-Acupuncture?

What is Heat Therapy?

The clinic uses special medical heat lamps designed for acupuncture to apply heat to the areas where needles are inserted.  The heat warms the needles and transmits the warmth inside the body.  It also acts to bring down inflammation and increase circulation.  The heat is relaxing for the patient, making it easier to rest during treatment.

What is cupping?

Cupping therapy is usually performed with glass cups, although sometimes it is done with plastic cups.  A cotton ball is soaked in alcohol and lit on fire, the fire is placed inside the cups and removed, and the cup is placed quickly on the skin.  The fire acts to remove the air from inside the cup, causing suction; the cup sticks to the skin, and pulls a little on the skin.  This suction acts to draw out what is called stagnant, or stuck, energy from inside the body and

bring it to the surface where it can be released.  It is used in areas such as the back, shoulders, and forearms when the muscles are very tight or there is aching pain.  Patients find that it relaxes those areas.  Cupping often leaves a circular bruise-like mark where the cup was.  Depending on the person, these marks can last from a few days to a couple weeks.

For some conditions, the acupuncturist may use auricular acupuncture, where needles are used at acupuncture points on the ear.  For all internal organs as well as limbs, there are specific points in the ear.  When disorders occur in any part of the body, tenderness can occur at the corresponding points in the ear.  Stimulating these sensitive areas on the ear serves to prevent and treat diseases and injuries.  Weight loss, addiction problems, as well as any chronic problem can be treated with acupuncture in the ear.

What is Auricular (ear) Acupuncture?

For chronic problems, the acupuncturist may suggest the use of ear seeds or ear tacks.  In this case, the acupuncturist uses a small machine to help find the most sensitive spots for the patient's problems, and then tapes a small seed inside the ear for that area.  These are hidden in the ear and do not stick out, so they can be kept in for up to one week.  The patient can stimulate the points by pressing on the seeds every day.  This gives the patient an opportunity for longer lasting and more constant relief.  If any of the points become uncomfortable, ear seeds can be removed by the patient right away without any problem.

Copyright © 2013 California Acupuncture Center. All rights reserved.