What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a health science that is used to successfully treat both pain and dysfunction in the body. Acupuncture has its roots deeply planted in China. In fact, authorities agree that the science is between 5,000 and 7,000 years old. However, it did not become known on a national level in the U.S. until 1971, when diplomatic relations between China and America were relaxed. Early Chinese physicians discovered that there is an energy network traveling just below the surface of the skin that communicates from the exterior to the internal organs and structures at over 1000 “acupoints” in the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive and all other systems of the body. When this vital energy (or qi, pronounced “chee”) becomes blocked or weakened, an effect on the body’s system becomes evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key “acupoints” can restore balance and harmony to the affected area, improving function.
What Can I Expect?
Acupuncture is a principle, not a technique. Therefore, there are many ways to stimulate an acupoint other than a needle, just like there are many different strokes used in swimming. Many practitioners use electronic stimulation, laser beam or pressure massage to treat an acupoint. When using needles, the sensation is often compared to “less than a mosquito bite,” since the needles are only approximately the diameter of a human hair. People often feel a mild tingling or heaviness when the needle is in the skin tapping into the energy of an acupoint.
How Many Treatments are Usual?
Obviously, the number of treatments vary with different conditions and individuals. Chronic problems generally require more treatment then acute ones. Some patients will notice an immediate improvement after the first treatment, while others may not notice anything until eight or nine treatments. A small number of patients will experience a worsening of symptoms as the body’s energies are returning to normal. However, there is no need for alarm since it is usually followed by improvement. Researchers internationally agree that the usual number of visits is between eight and sixteen. The usual frequency is between two and four treatments per week. Patients are encouraged to follow the treatment plan, and not take a “wait and see” approach after each visit.
Are the Results Psychological?
Many critics of acupuncture have suggested that the science is hypnosis or “mind over matter.” This criticism is totally unfounded as acupuncture has profound affects on infants and toddlers as well as veterinary applications. The effects it has in surgery as an anesthetic further disclaims the skeptics. Even total disbelievers have reported favorable responses to acupuncture. However, a positive outlook is obviously beneficial in all phases of life, including healing.
What Conditions Can Be Treated?
Acupuncture textbooks list well over 100 different conditions that have responded well to acupuncture. The following are some of the more common ones: Acute, chronic and post-operative pain relief, migraines, tension and sinus headaches, bladder dysfunction, bed wetting, neck pain, low back pain and sciatica, tennis elbow, gastric problems, asthma, allergies, skin conditions, carpal tunnel, abnormal blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, neurological conditions, various eye problems, sinus problems, Bell’s palsy and infertility.
Can You Treat Addictions?
It has been shown that acupuncture has a positive effect in both drug and alcohol addiction. Combined with professional counseling, it has been proven to be extremely effective. For smokers, the average patient could expect to reduce their intake by 1/2 within the first 24 hours of the first treatment. Several additional treatments generally allow the patient to stop without experiencing the negative side effects of quitting. Acupuncture has also been successful in weight control.
Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Occasionally private health insurance will offer acupuncture benefits. We have seen more plans cover it in recent years as more positive research and demand for this alternative care has increased. We can call on your insurance plan for you to find out if you are covered. If you do not have acupuncture benefits included in your plan, cost for out-of-pocket acupuncture treatment ranges from $30-$60 per visit.