Eat a snack about an hour before your appointment time so that you are neither hungry nor overly full during the treatment. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing so that I may access points on your arms, legs, abdomen and back.
An initial session usually takes around an hour and a half, as we will discuss many aspects of your health. Subsequent sessions will only take an hour, due to a shorter intake process.
Please come to your first office visit prepared to talk about your health status, lifestyle, and chief complaints, as I will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs. We will discuss all treatments or medications you are currently taking and all medical conditions you have. Each session will include a verbal intake of general health questions about your level of energy, sleep, temperature and sweat, digestion, elimination, menstrual cycle (or pregnancy or menopausal symptoms), pain and headaches, allergies, and your emotional health. Diagnostic factors include visual observation of your tongue, physical palpation of your pulse at the wrist, palpation of your body along meridians and muscles, and insertion of needles.
Clean needle technique is always used when inserting the needles, and includes hand sanitizer and swabbing each point with isopropyl alcohol. On average, I use 10 to 20 needles and leave them in for 15 to 25 minutes. These numbers vary based on each patient's chief complaint and health presentation.
Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. The term "Acupuncture" describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of Acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The Acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture needles are much thinner than hypodermic needles and are barely thicker than a human hair. They are individually wrapped, composed of sterilized stainless steel, and disposed of in biohazard containers. The sensations from needle insertion vary from person to person, and may be described as "a dull ache", "tingling", "heavy feeling", "pressure", or "warm sensation". Occasionally, a patient will feel a slight prick as the needle enters the skin, but any discomfort will go away immediately. The needles may be left in for only a few moments or up to 45 minutes. After a treatment, many people feel energized, while others feel relaxed. In some cases, patients may experience an increase is symptoms during the first 24 hours as the body initially responds to the treatment. If this is the case, symptom alleviation should be seen the next day.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Sterile needle technique is always used. The National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has rigorous standards which includes attendance of an accredited Acupuncture college (3000-4000 hours of study) and passing a License Exam which includes standards of hygiene, clean needle technique, and anatomical knowledge.
In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle; yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Among the major assumptions in TCM is that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a "balanced state" and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy, pronounced "chee") along pathways known as meridians. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians that circulate along the body. Positioned along these meridians are more than 2,000 Acupuncture points. Each of these points has its own functions within the body to aid in maintaining and restoring health.
Preclinical studies have documented Acupuncture's effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how Acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine commonly practiced in the United States. It is proposed that Acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that Acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
As every person is unique, each treatment plan will be different. The severity and duration of a chief complaint will influence how many treatments are needed in order for the issue to resolve. Symptom relief is often immediate, but additional sessions may be required for lasting relief. Some patients see their symptoms resolve in fewer sessions, some require a longer and more detailed treatment plan. Acute conditions may resolve in two to three sessions, whereas a chronic, long-term ailment may take five to fifteen sessions. After a chief complaint is resolved, many patients enjoy monthly or quarterly "tune-ups" to keep their health in line.
The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that Acupuncture is being "widely" practiced by thousands of physicians, acupuncturists, and other practitioners for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use by Americans, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults and 150,000 children had used Acupuncture in the previous year. Between the 2002 and 2007 NHIS, Acupuncture use among adults increased by approximately 1 million people.
The past two decades have seen extensive studies on Acupuncture, and great efforts have been made to conduct controlled clinical trials that include the use of "sham" Acupuncture or "placebo" Acupuncture controls. Although still limited in number because of the difficulties of carrying out such trials, convincing reports, based on sound research methodology, have been published. In addition, experimental investigations on the mechanism of Acupuncture have been carried out. This research, while aimed chiefly at answering how Acupuncture works, may also provide evidence in support of its effectiveness.