What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is a medical practice that aids the body in reaching and maintaining homeostasis. To accomplish this, it uses access points and channels throughout the body, needles, bodywork, external and internal herbal applications, scraping, cupping and moxibustion. To help the practitioner determine which points and techniques to use, a differential diagnosis is made which informs the practitioner’s treatment plan. Although the use of needles is one of the primary techniques used to help the body, it is by no means the only mode of treatment. Does acupuncture hurt? Acupuncture needles are very thin, as thin as a hair, are not hollow, and are unlike hypodermic needles in every way. They are carefully inserted into the body at points that are skillfully chosen by the practitioner. The insertion of the needle is relatively pain-free and any sensation that is felt goes away as quickly as it came. Often the practitioner will advance the needle further to stimulate the point. While it isn’t painful, it can illicit sensations that are unusual for most people in the United States. These sensations are called “De Qi” in Chinese, and can be described as a “warm releasing” or “spreading” sensation running away from the point, a slight zing that comes and goes, a “heaviness” that dissipates, a “strong releasing” sensation, or a “dull aching” feeling. These are quite normal and considered beneficial for the patient and helpful for the success of the treatment. How does it work? There are many explanations as to how acupuncture stimulates the body to heal itself. It has been the source of much research for decades, but with recent advances in technology scientists are able to view in real time the changes taking place within the body. Stimulation of acupuncture points helps the body reach homeostasis by causing vasodilation, mediating immune system response, modulating the neuro-endocrine system, stimulating new tissue growth, and enhancing nervous system conduction while helping to modulate the signal. Acupuncture treatment also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the most beneficial state for encouraging healing. This is especially true for moderating systemic or local inflammation and generating new tissue. How often should I get treated? This is a complex question to answer because the presentation is different for every patient. Acute cases generally take fewer treatments. The longer the patient has experienced the condition, the longer the treatment plan will be. Similarly, the prescribed frequency of treatments will depend on whether the condition is chronic or acute in nature. This can also be moderated by treatments such as taking or applying Chinese herbs, bodywork, guasha, cupping, or moxibustion. What is consistent for everyone in our clinic is that we will make a treatment plan, share that plan with you up front, and work with you to develop a timeline that includes the frequency of visits necessary. Why do you needle my hand/arm/leg/foot vs where it hurts…? The acupuncturist accesses channels that run throughout the body, for example, from the head to the ends of our four limbs. These channels, or meridians, are areas that transport important resources and signals to all parts of the body. That being the case, it is not necessary and often less beneficial to needle directly into the painful area. We thus use both local and distal points to influence the body into homeostasis. The goal, no matter where the needle is inserted, is to encourage relief from your symptoms. How long does it take to work? Acupuncture is a very personalized medicine. Two people coming in for the same Western diagnosed condition will not always be treated for the same pattern in any acupuncture office. Their bodies may not respond to a treatment in the same way either. Typically, it takes a few consistent and frequent treatments to determine the length of time it will take to treat your condition. We recommend 4 to 6 visits initially. Once we have finished the initial treatment phase we determine how fast your body is responding and moving towards homeostasis. Two people being treated for similar conditions may have completely different treatment schedules depending how quickly their bodies respond. The response time typically runs on a bell curve. A few people respond rapidly and require very little time to be treated after the initial introductory treatment phase. Most, require regular treatments for a set number of weeks to reach their health goals. Some patients will not respond strongly or at all to the treatments. That is why an initial treatment phase is so important in determining how many will be necessary for you. How long will the results last? This depends on the goals of the patient and the condition being treated. For most acute conditions, a patient is treated over a relatively short period of time and with careful and consistent lifestyle changes their health goals are met and sustained with few to no recurring symptoms. For chronic pain and systemic inflammation, the goal of the practitioner is to eliminate the condition, however this is not always a practical goal. Sometimes for systemic pain and inflammation the goal must be to reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration during “flared” up or active phases. The additional goal is to reduce the amount of time the patient feels any symptoms. Is acupuncture right for me? Acupuncture is right for most people. There is a small percentage of patients who might not respond to this type of treatment and that is what the initial phase treatments (4 to 6 treatments) help to determine. For most, acupuncture is right for them because they respond well to it and notice either rapid or gradual changes. Our goal at White Center Wellness Clinic is to help you to feel better as soon as possible. We treat patients with pain, injuries, upper respiratory conditions (cough, asthma, bronchitis, etc), colds, flus, infertility, digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea), menstrual irregularity (painful period, cramping, heavy bleeding, light or no period, cysts, heavy clotting, pms, menopause, etc), urological conditions (frequent, painful, infrequent, difficult starting, incomplete urination, etc). We also treat patients who are diagnosed with and being treated for cancer, auto-immune conditions, neurological conditions, endocrine system difficulties, or immune system conditions. Feel free to ask us if you are curious about a particular condition and whether or not acupuncture would be a good treatment option. Let’s work together to make you feel better!