acupuncture and chinese medicine
What is acupuncture and Chinese medicine?
The simplest explanation of acupuncture is that it is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body in order to address a condition or area of concern. Acupuncture is only one of the many facets of Chinese medicine. As a whole, Chinese medicine also includes herbal medicine, therapeutic massage, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, and dietary and lifestyle recommendations.
What can acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat?
Most commonly in the US, acupuncture is thought of for treating pain conditions- whether chronic low back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain, and so on. However, it has been used as a complete medical system for over 2000 years and as such can greatly impact and provide support for a very wide range of health concerns including fertility issues, women’s health, men’s health, mental/emotional health, insomnia or sleep disturbances, digestive health, immune and allergy support, colds and flu, lyme disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and so on. It has often proven to be especially helpful in addressing stubborn, undiagnosable, or otherwise untreatable conditions as it provides a different lens through which to look at human anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and it treats each person uniquely and individually by looking at both the symptoms and the entire person as a whole.
Does acupuncture hurt?
This is a very normal and reasonable concern since most of us associate needles with painful vaccine injections or blood draws, but acupuncture needles are very different! Rather than being large, hollow needles, acupuncture needles are very fine (about as thick as a single human hair) and filiform (not hollow). They are so thin that you can fit about 40 acupuncture needles in the tip of one of the needles used for blood draws.
Most commonly you will not even feel the needles going in and it is generally painless. On rare occasions you may feel the tiniest pinch but that is more the exception that the rule. Once the needles are in place, it is common to feel sensations such as pressure, warmth, pulsing, or tingling, none of which are painful- rather many people find these sensations very fascinating and enjoyable. If you happen to find something painful or uncomfortable, just let your acupuncturist know so that they can remove or adjust the needle- it is not meant to be a painful experience and your comfort is important.
What is an acupuncture appointment like? What to expect...
Typically, before you arrive for your appointment you will be asked to fill out an intake form just as in most any other medical appointment setting. This will give your acupuncturist a framework to start with in getting to know you and what your concerns or goals for receiving treatment are.
At your first appointment, the acupuncturist will do a thorough intake interview to get a clear understanding of both the condition(s) you are dealing with as well as an understanding of your unique constitution.
After the intake, your practitioner will feel your pulse and take a look at your tongue. Why do acupuncturists do that? Well, both the quality of a person’s pulse and the appearance of the tongue reveal quite a bit about a person’s constitution and possible imbalances. This will help further clarify the treatment plan to the acupuncturist.
After the intake is complete, you will be asked to lay down on a comfortable massage/ treatment table. You may be asked to partially disrobe so that all of the necessary treatment points can be accessed. Don’t worry though, the practitioner will leave the room and give you time to get underneath some blankets, and you will always be discreetly covered just as if you were receiving a massage.
The acupuncturist will then locate the points, disinfect the skin, and insert the needles. You will rest comfortably with the needles in for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. Often times your session will be segmented with different points or different sides of the body being treated within one session. If your practitioner feels it is appropriate, they may also use other modalities of Chinese medicine including cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, massage, or the prescription of an herbal formula.
I’m already seeing a doctor or specialist for my concern- is acupuncture compatible with other treatments?
Yes! Acupuncture is a great addition to almost any other course of treatment you may be receiving and many doctors and specialists openly recommend and support acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment. If you are concerned or unsure you can always ask your provider prior to making an appointment.
I’m curious about Chinese medicine, but I really don’t want acupuncture- is there still something here for me?
Yes, there are very gentle therapies available that still utilize the power and wisdom of Chinese medicine in very effective and non-invasive ways. For very sensitive or needle-phobic individuals, your acupuncturist can use a non-insertive touch needle (dull and totally painless, like gently touching a ballpoint pen to your skin), acupressure (gently rubbing therapeutic points on your body), massage, or herbal medicine.
How soon will I see results and how often will I need to come?
The answer here is different for everyone. Most people will experience some if not total relief from their first session, but one session is usually not enough to completely resolve a condition or concern. Generally speaking, the longer you’ve had your concern, or the more complex your concern is, the longer it will take to create a lasting change. In very complex cases that are responding favorably to treatment, it might be recommended to come twice a week for a period of time. In other cases, coming in every other week, once a month, or simply as the need arises may be totally sufficient. The recommendation will be unique for you.
What’s the benefit of receiving acupuncture specifically at Reconstructed Wellness?
At Reconstructed Wellness, there is an incredible team of doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and acupuncturists each with their own specialties and some operating as primary care providers. This means that you can receive truly integrative care all under one roof, and your practitioners can easily consult with one another to make sure you are receiving the best possible care or are being referred to the most appropriate person to support you in your healing from all angles.