Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture need not be painful or uncomfortable in order to be effective. Needles are approximately the size of a cat’s whisker (they are solid but flexible and are made of surgical-grade stainless steel), and more times than not patients do not feel their insertion. It can also be normal though to momentarily feel a heaviness, ache, tingling, or tightness upon insertion. This is no cause for alarm as this sensation will quickly subside. If ever a patient reports discomfort that persists we simply adjust or even remove the needle if necessary. Treatment is usually quite relaxing, and many patients even fall asleep while they rest with the needles in place for approximately twenty minutes.
How does acupuncture work?
There are several mechanisms of action postulated to be involved from the vantage of Western Medicine. Simply stated though, there is a neurophysiologic response in the brain and spinal cord to the strategic insertion of the needles. This promotes what is considered to be a natural healing response within the body: there is a regulatory effect on physiologic function as well as improvement in local circulation.
What conditions can acupuncture effectively treat?
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of over 50 clinical conditions. Conditions for which many patients seek treatment at our clinic include but are certainly not limited to the following: stress & anxiety, acute & chronic pain, tingling and numbness, headaches, allergies, chronic fatigue, digestive disorders, menstrual irregularities, sleep disturbances, immune system support, infertility, and menopause.
Is there medication on the needles?
No. The needles are single use, sterilized, and individually packaged. After use they are disposed of as medical waste into a Sharps container. The effectiveness of treatment is not due to medication on the needle; rather, the presence of the needle within the tissue serves as a stimulus to which there is a neurophysiological response.
If I am already receiving medical care for my condition can I still receive acupuncture treatments?
Yes. In fact, it is often times advantageous for a patient to receive both Eastern and Western medical care for their condition. Our treatments will not typically interfere with any other forms of treatment a patient may be undergoing or has undergone. If we believe that acupuncture treatment would not be advisable we will certainly inform the patient of our concerns. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can often times hasten one’s recovery and can also provide enough relief so as to allow one to reduce the amount of medication they would otherwise require.
How many treatments will I have to receive to achieve a therapeutic outcome?
It is generally the case that conditions of a chronic nature require more treatment than those which are more acute. That being said, relief care is typically achieved within approximately five to ten treatments. We often recommend that a patient initially receive treatment two or three times a week for a few weeks in order to maximize the healing response. The treatment regimen is then adjusted accordingly – as a patient responds and their condition improves they will require less frequent treatment. Most patients notice within a handful of treatments, if not after the first or second, improvement in their condition.
Will I have to continue to receive treatments in order to maintain the results?
No. As a patient responds to treatment and their condition improves we gradually reduce treatment frequency. During this time we also seek to strengthen the patient’s constitution so as to enable them to maintain long-lasting results. Periodic maintenance treatments may be necessary for some while others may seek occasional or seasonal treatment as a form of preventative or wellness care.
What kind of training does one have to have in order to practice acupuncture and Chinese medicine professionally?
Each state regulates the profession differently, but all require those practicing to have graduated from an accredited institution and to have passed the national licensing board examinations. I graduated from American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) in Houston, Texas after completing a four year curriculum and subsequently passed all of the national board examinations given by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). I became licensed to practice acupuncture in Texas in 2007 and then achieved my licensure in Louisiana in 2008 when I moved back to Baton Rouge and opened a private practice. I am licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical of Medical Examiners.
Does insurance cover any of the cost?
We do not handle insurance claims directly but will provide you the necessary paperwork to file a claim with your insurance provider. It is becoming increasingly common for patients to receive some reimbursement for treatment, but at this time the majority of our patients pay out-of-pocket. In short, you will have to check with your insurance provider to see if your plan provides coverage for acupuncture.
What should I expect at my first visit?
After completing a short questionnaire, we will meet with you one-on-one to complete the intake. We will review your medical history as well as discuss in detail your chief complaint(s). We will ask you several questions about your body system functions (digestion, sleep patterns, energy level, etc). Before proceeding with the acupuncture treatment, we will also observe your tongue and check your pulse - diagnostic criteria which are used to further evaluate a patient’s underlying condition from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This helps us to choose the best treatment protocol not only for the condition being treated but specifically for the individual needs of the patient. Patterns of disharmony which are unique to each patient are therefore addressed - allowing for healing beyond that goes beyond simply treating of a set of symptoms.
How long do appointments last?
Allow an hour and a half for your first visit and an hour for follow-up visits, although most visits do not take quite that much time.
What is “dry needling” and how does it differ from acupuncture?
“Dry needling” is a technique using acupuncture needles and is technically acupuncture (acupuncture being defined as the insertion of an acupuncture needle into a patient’s body). Dry needling is usually more uncomfortable than the style of acupuncture most licensed practitioners employ. Calling it “dry needling” allows the physical therapists who use this technique to do so without being required to have a license to practice acupuncture. The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners recently made a statement about this practice in their February 2014 Newsletter. It reads as follows:
"The Board has recently received inquiries and complaints from physicians in this state concerning the appropriateness of physical therapists (PTs) performing dry needling on their patients. Some have advised that this procedure was performed without the referring physician’s knowledge or direction and in one instance the physician reported that due to the patient’s condition dry needling was contraindicated. The question has also been raised as to whether the referring physician could bear some liability in the event of a complication.
Given that dry needling is a form of “treatment” it must be preceded by a prescription or referral of a physician or other authorized provider. In our on-going discussions with the Louisiana Physical Therapy Board, and our consideration of this issue generally, it has become apparent that PTs believe that they are authorized to perform this procedure under a general order of a physician to “evaluate and treat.”
In the Board’s view, dry needling constitutes the practice of medicine and should only be performed by a physician or an acupuncturist’s assistant. While the Board is considering how this issue might be best addressed, we take this opportunity to alert physicians that unless specifically excluded from a physical therapy referral, it is possible that dry needling may be performed on your patient.
Therefore, if you do not intend to authorize dry needling on a patient for whom you prescribe physical therapy services, you will need to specifically exclude it from your referral.”
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- Does acupuncture hurt?