Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most time tested medical procedure in the world, originating in China more than 2000 years ago. In general terms, acupuncture is a completely different system of medicine that involves accessing the body’s natural energy to promote healing and health and to alleviate pain and suffering. Unlike traditional acupuncture, however, medical acupuncture is practiced primarily by physicians (MD or DO) with additional training in acupuncture techniques and is a combination of traditional Chinese acupuncture and Western allopathic medicine. Through this combination, you receive the benefits of both Western and Chinese medicine.
Although there is no exact understanding of how acupuncture works, modern scientific research is beginning to better understand the effects of acupuncture on the human body. Traditionally, acupuncture works by use of acupuncture needles at different unique points that lie along various meridians in the body. The meridian system serve as a channel network for the body’s natural energy or chi (similar to the circulatory or nervous system). Once the chi is contacted in the meridian, the needles can be left to disperse excess energy, manipulated by hand, heat or electrical impulses to reinforce insufficient energy, or to open up clogged channels. By harmonizing the body’s own natural energy, acupuncture allows the body to heal itself quicker with minimal chance for side effects commonly associated with medications.
The acupuncture needles that we use are solid (not hollow hypodermic needles) and are extremely thin. Most patients either report a brief pinching sensation or no pain at all when the needle penetrates the skin. Once the skin is penetrated, most patients either do not have pain or may have a mild aching sensation that resolves after a few seconds when the needle has contacted the body’s energy or chi.
We only use individually packaged, one time use, sterile, highest quality needles. All needles are discarded after a single use. There is therefore absolutely no chance of transmitting blood borne infections through the acupuncture needles we use.
Side effects associated with acupuncture are rare and very mild when they occur. Most patients will not have any side effects. Some patients may experience sleepiness, excess energy, mild local swelling, euphoria, or a “dream” like sensation. When such symptoms occur, they are generally very temporary and may resolve within minutes to hours.
Depending to the condition being treated, we generally perform 5-6 acupuncture treatments each spaced roughly one week apart. If there is positive benefit, then we start spacing the treatments further apart until the condition is either resolved or controlled. After which we may schedule regular maintenance treatments. If no benefit has been achieved after 6 treatments, then other treatments shouldbe explored.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid any excesses. This means no excess eating, drinking, smoking, sex, or exercise on the same day as an acupuncture treatment. This allows time for the body’s energy to harmonize without any disruptive externalforces.
As with any medical treatment, there is no guarantee that acupuncture can resolve your medical condition. Your general health level, age, medical problems, compliance with treatment plan, and medications you are taking can all affect the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment.
Many health insurance companies in California will pay for medical acupuncture, however, this may also vary by the particular plan that you have. Many companies that pay may limit the number of visits per year similar to limitations on physical therapy or chiropractic visits. It is important that you check with your insurance company on their acupuncture policy for your particular health plan. If your health insurance company does not pay, we would be happy to send a letter of appeal to your company and 10-20% of the time they may pay after appeal.