What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an effective form of healthcare which is part of the complete and holistic medical system known as Chinese medicine.  Practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese medicine have used this noninvasive medical technique to diagnose and help millions of people get well and stay healthy.  An acupuncturist places fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints on the body.  This activates the body’s energetic pathways, chemical releases, balances brain waves and releases endorphins and neurotransmitters to promote natural healing by enhancing recuperative power, immunity, and physical and emotional health.  It can also improve overall function and well-being.  It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.

What will my acupuncturist do?

During the initial exam, a full health history will be taken.  Questions will be asked regarding symptoms, lifestyle and health.  Your acupuncturist may also check your pulse and tongue and may conduct a physical exam.  This information is then organized to create a complete, accurate and comprehensive diagnosis where there are imbalances or blockages.  After the interview process, you may receive an acupuncture treatment.  Visits with your acupuncturist may last from 30-90 minutes.

Why do they want to feel my pulse?

There are twelve pulse positions on each wrist that your acupuncturist will palpate.  Each position corresponds to a specific meridian (pathway)  and organ.  Your  acupuncturist will be looking for twenty seven individual qualities that reflect overall health.  If there are any problems, they may appear in the pulse.

Why do they want to look at my tongue?

The tongue  is a map of the body.  It reflects the general health of the organs and pathways.  Your acupuncturist will look at the color, shape cracks and coating on your tongue.

Is acupuncture safe for children?

Yes acupuncture is very safe for children.  In some instances children respond more quickly than adults.  If your child has an aversion to needles, Heather has extensive training in non-needle techniques for children and sensitive adults, such as tui na massage, laser and microcurrent.  

How many treatments will I need?

Treatment frequency and number of treatments needed depend on a number of factors: your constitution, the severity and duration of the problem and the quality and quantity of your vital energy.  Some people experience immediate relief; others may take months or even years to achieve results.  Chronic conditions generally take longer to resolve than acute ones.  Plan on a minimum of a month to six weeks to see significant changes.  For most cases, Heather recommends 1-2 treatments a week for the first one to two weeks, then as symptoms resolve and health improves and stays that way treatment frequency goes down.  Heather likes to see all patients once per month for maintenance after they go through a treatment plan.  

Will my insurance cover acupuncture?

Insurance coverage varies from state to state and plan to plan.  Contact your insurance provider to learn what kind of care is covered.  Here are a few questions to ask:


  • Will my plan cover acupuncture?
  • How many visits per calendar year?
  • Do I need a referral?
  • Do I have a co-pay?
  • Do I have a deductible?  If yes, has it been met?

What are the acupuncture needles like?

Acupuncture needles are far different from the hypodermic needles used to give shots.  Acupuncture needles are solid and inserted into the skin from 1/8 inch to several inches deep.  They are pre-sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles insuring that there is no contamination or transmission of disease possible.  They are usually painless upon insertion, but you may feel a slight pricking, numbness, heaviness or distended sensation in the area around the needles when it is inserted.  The sensations usually only last a moment.

What health benefits can I expect to be achieved?

Scientific research has discovered that acupuncture points show a variety of bioelectric properties.  Stimulation of acupuncture points cause physiologic reactions that affect brain activity such as releasing pain killing endorphins, influencing blood pressure, balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and enhancing the endocrine system. Most of all, acupuncture stimulates  the body’s natural ability to heal itself and regain homeostasis.  

What are the side effects of  acupuncture?

One of the greatest advantages of acupuncture is the absence of any serious side effects associated with it’s use.  Rarely there may be some slight bruising around the area where the needles are placed.  


How long does a treatment take?

The initial visit lasts from one and half to two hours due to the time required for the extensive intake questions and examination.  Follow up treatments generally take one hour but can vary depending on types of modalities used.

Is acupuncture painful and what will I experience during treatment?

When a needle is inserted, some may feel soreness or slight pain.  Others may feel nothing.  Common sensations around the needle include: tingling, electrical sensations which may travel above or below the needle site, or a sense fo swelling at the insertion site.  Stimulation of needles may occur manually or by attaching electrodes that transmit a weak current.  

Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.  If you experience discomfort during or after the treatment, it is usually mild and short term.  Because the purpose of acupuncture is to balance the body’s systems, there are no long term side effects.  Relaxation and a general sense of well-being often occur during and after treatment.  Often, patients become so relaxed that they sleep during treatment.  

How should I prepare for treatment?

  • Write down and bring any questions you have.  We are here to help you.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture point.
  • Do not eat large meals just before or after your visit but do make sure to have had something to eat prior to your visit.
  • Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for up to six hours after your visit.
  • Aoid stressful situations.  Make time to relax, and be sure to get plenty of rest.
  • Between visits, make note of any changes that may have occurred, such as the alleviation of pain, pain moving to other areas, or changes in the frequency and type of symptoms.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is extremely safe.  It is an all natural, drug free therapy with no negative side effects, just feelings of relaxation and well-being.  There is very little danger of infection from acupuncture needles because they are sterile, used once then discarded.

How are acupuncturists educated?

Today, acupuncturists undertake three to four years of extensive and comprehensive graduate level training at nationally certified schools.  All acupuncturists must pass a national board exam and meet strict guidelines to practice in every state.



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