Frequently Asked Questions

What is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM, includes a range of traditional medicine practices originating in China. TCM practices include such treatment modalities as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Nutrition / Dietary Therapy, and Tui Na Massage.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is largely based on the philosophical concept that the universe is made of an energy called qi. This energy can be any state of matter or energy in existence. TCM believes that the body is a small universe, a microcosm unto itself that is a complex of subsystems of energy and matter, and that these systems work together to maintain a healthy mind and body. TCM believes that illness is caused by external and/or internal factors which disrupt the body’s natural processes.

Acupuncture (from the Latin word acus, “needle”, and pungere, meaning “prick”), as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a technique in which the practitioner inserts fine needles into specific points on the patient’s body. The intended effect is to increase circulation and balance energy (qi) within the body. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.

Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine, and involves inserting needles into the skin at particular points on the body, and manipulating them with the hands or with gentle electrical currents. Practitioners say this can alter the body’s qi, or life energy, and help relieve medical complaints ranging from colds to liver problems. The body is said to contain 400 acupuncture points, which are linked by 20 meridians, or channels through which qi flows. Acupuncture clears blockages in these meridians and lets the qi flow to all areas of the body, purportedly healing it.

Acupuncture can be used to treat an enormous variety of conditions from sporting injuries to digestive upsets or even the common cold. Anyone from newborns to the elderly can benefit from a course of treatment. Acupuncture is a very safe and effective form of medicine with a history of many thousands of years. It can be used not only for the treatment of conditions or illnesses but also to help keep you well and prevent illness taking hold. Some of the disorders that can be treated through acupuncture are:

  • Sports Medicine (knee, elbow, shoulder pain, foot or hand pain, as well as injuries and rehabilitation therapy following surgery)
  • Myofascial and recovery for professional athletes
  • Stress, Anxiety Disorders, Insomnia, Fatigue
  • Infertility, as well as symptoms associated with pregnancy (such as morning sickness, fatigue)
  • PTSD
  • Back pain (neck, lumbar, etc.), Sciatica, Acute body pains, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis
  • Headaches (chronic or migraine)
  • Asthma, Allergies, Sinus problems and respiratory issues
  • Weight loss
  • Addiction Recovery (quit smoking, drinking)
  • Side effects from chemotherapy and radiation

Prepare your questions ahead of time. I’ll gladly go over the entire process with you and answer any questions you may have about your diagnosis and treatment.

Avoid eating a large meal immediately prior to acupuncture but make sure to have a light snack so as not to arrive with an empty stomach. Avoid alcohol, caffeine tobacco on the day of treatment.

Wear loose and comfortable clothing that can roll up above the knee and elbow. If you are female, please wear a sports bra underneath your shirt in case a back treatment is necessary.

Do not over exert yourself after a treatment usually for up to 6 hours after the visit. Use this time to meditate, reflect and relax.

Use the restroom before your treatment to empty your bladder.

On the day of treatment as well as the following day, please increase your water consumption by 30 ounces. Also between visits take notes of any changes that may have occurred in your body - i.e. pain reduction or exacerbation or any new or additional symptoms you may be experiencing.

Chinese Medicine is a holistic treatment and so I will begin by taking an extensive case history, covering every aspect of your health, diet and lifestyle before making a diagnosis. Your answers will help identify patterns of disharmony which will allow your practitioner to make a more accurate diagnosis. I may also take your pulse on both wrists and ask to look at your tongue as both provide valuable information about your constitution and presenting condition. At this point I will decide which Acupuncture points I will be using and if I will be adding anything in addition such as moxa, essential oils or cupping.

Acupuncture needles are very fine (in comparison to needles which are used for an injection or to take blood), and are not much thicker than a human hair. A typical treatment will involve the insertion of 8-20 acupuncture needles into points located on the body. The needles must stay in place for approximately 20-25 minutes, during which time most people drift into a state of deep relaxation or may even go to sleep.

At the point of needle insertion you may feel a vague tingling, numbness, or heaviness in that area. This is normal. This is the sensation of Qi! Sometimes people experience a burst of energy spreading and moving around the needle. These sensations and reactions are positive and a good sign that the treatment is working. After treatment you may feel energized or you could feel very relaxed.

Most new patients are amazed how painless acupuncture is – the thought is worse than the reality. Sometimes the patient may feel some heaviness, distension, tingling or electric sensation either around the needle or travelling up or down the affected energy pathway or meridian.

Energetic changes in the body will continue for some time after the needles have been removed so it is preferable to avoid any strenuous activity immediately after treatment. To avoid undoing the effects of the treatment it is also better not to consume any alcohol or recreational drugs.

Depending on the type of treatment you have received, you may feel very relaxed and calm or you may feel revitalized and more clear-headed. It is not unusual to feel like resting after a treatment and occasionally your symptoms may flare for a short time before settling. Generally the effects of the treatment will be more obvious the following day.

Yes – it is possible that a course of acupuncture may reduce your need for some medications so it is essential that your general prqactitioner is aware that you are receiving treatment. Most medical doctors are supportive of acupuncture treatment and it is better for you if all your healthcare practitioners are able to work together.

Yes – your intake medical history form will ask you to list any medication you are taking and it is important to be as accurate as possible when listing your medications and vitamins.

Acupuncture practice in developed parts of the world using single-use disposable needles sealed by the manufacturer in sterile conditions. The needles are open just prior to use by the acupuncture practitioner. Because of this, the risk of infection is very low.

Acupuncture has relatively few side effects. Because the needles break the skin, although rare, side effects can happen. Sometimes there’s a little bleeding, soreness or bruising at the acupuncture site.

Acupuncture is remarkably safe with only 220 adverse events identified in a systematic review of 98 papers reported from 22 countries in 35 years between the time frame from 1965 to 1999.

Lao L. et al. Is Acupuncture Safe? A Systematic Review of Case Reports. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9(1):72-83

Yes, Oklahoma L.A.c. are required to use pre-sterilized single use needles which are disposed of immediately after removal.

Generally a course of treatment is accepted as being 8-10 individual sessions. Very commonly your condition may resolve in fewer than this, but if it is a long standing condition then it would not be unexpected to require considerably more. Initially you may be asked to attend for treatment two or three times a week, and then as symptoms improve, weekly treatment would be likely. Your first appointment may last for close to an hour but subsequent visits may only take 30 or 45 minutes.