The following questions are frequently asked by new clients but they surely don't cover everything. If you have a question about acupuncture or oriental medicine that isn't answered here, don't hesitate to contact us.
Look how many acupuncture needles fit into the hole of a syringe! They are so much smaller than what you are probably used to. Sometimes patients will feel a little ache when the needle is placed though often they don't feel anything at all. At most, it may feel like a mosquito bite - you can feel it but it isn't even enough of a sensation to make you say "Ouch". To quote one of my 7-year-old patients: "That is what I was afraid of? Duh."
Acupuncture needles are solid filiform needles - we are not injecting anything into you or taking anything out. The needles we use here at Acupuncture of the Rockies are MUCH thinner than the type of needles that are used for drawing blood or for vaccinations. I wish they had some other name because they are nothing like what most people expect from something called a "needle". Once the needles are placed, you may experience a really relaxing effect on your whole body (and mind). Most people actually fall asleep during treatment...it is that relaxing. Top
NO! Many people have the misconception that acupuncture works based on the placebo effect, i.e. that it only works if the patient "believes" it is working. This most definitely is NOT the case. Traditional Chinese Medicine (of which acupuncture is merely one form of treatment in this system of medicine) is based on the organized energy within the body. Whether or not you "believe" in this energy, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can have powerful effects on one's health. There have been several scientific studies of brain function that show increased activity in specific regions of the brain when acupuncture points on the body related to those regions are needled. Another strong argument for the effectiveness of acupuncture is the increasing use of it in veterinary medicine. Acupuncture has been shown to very effectively treat pain and inflammation from arthritis, hip dysplasia, injuries and more in dogs, cats, horses and other animals. This positive effect is not merely "mind-over-matter"...after all, animals do not know what to expect as the result of placing needles in their bodies! (For an inspiring example of treating animals with Traditional Chinese Medicine, read "Froggy's Tale".)
When practiced by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is very safe. In this country most acupuncturists used pre-sterilized, disposable needles. This means they are sterile, have never been used on anyone else before, and will not be used on anyone else after you. Placement of needles in the body is also very safe when practiced by a trained professional who has more than adequate knowledge of human anatomy.
In the state of Colorado, acupuncture is a licensed profession. Your first criterion when choosing an acupuncturist is to seek someone who holds a valid license in this state. The second thing you should ask about is where he/she received their education. Your acupuncturist should be well educated in the medical theory of Chinese medicine, whether it is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Five Element Theory (sometimes referred to as "Classical Acupuncture"). If they attended graduate school here in the United States, be sure they completed at least a three-year program at an accredited school [see the link to the National Council for Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) available on this site] or received their degree from a college in China.
Be aware that anyone passing the state board exam in the state of New Mexico receives the title Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM). This does NOT mean they are a medical doctor or that they have received their doctorate degree in Chinese Medicine. Also be advised that any M.D. in the state of Colorado can get their license to practice acupuncture without receiving any training in acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine at all. The strength of this medicine lies in the practitioner's thorough understanding of the theory behind it, not the needles themselves. While "medical acupuncture" tends to still be effective for pain, it would be advisable to make sure the medical doctor performing the acupuncture has some training in Chinese medical theory to get the most long-term benefits of treatment. This is especially important if herbal medicine is to be part of your treatment.
In the hands of a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is very safe to use in conjunction with other forms of therapy. In fact it has a synergistic effect when combined with chiropractic and/or massage therapy. In regards to herbal medicine, it is very important your practitioner is well educated in prescribing herbs because certain substances may interfere with some pharmaceuticals and should not be taken concurrently. Herbal medications can be taken during the same course of treatment as most homeopathic remedies, but they should not be consumed together (i.e. take the herbs at a different time of day than the homeopathics.). Some homeopaths may have a different approach to combining herbs and homepathics, so consult with your practitioner.
Individual treatment sessions vary by practitioner. Typically you can expect to set aside 1 ? to 2 hours for the initial session to allow for adequate health history intake and treatment. Follow-up sessions are usually about 45 minutes to one hour (or more depending on the therapies involved). Overall course of treatment varies quite a bit. Acute conditions (such as common cold, flu or other short-lived illnesses) often respond within a treatment or two. Chronic conditions typically take longer to treat. Your practitioner will discuss your prognosis and course of treatment with you after your first visit. Remember, our goal is to get your body back into a state of balance so that it can take care of itself. Some conditions may require regular "maintenance" treatments once a month or seasonally and some conditions may be effectively "managed" with acupuncture and herbs even if they cannot be cured. Treatment length and prognosis depend greatly upon the condition being treated and the individual who is experiencing the condition.