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Frequently Asked Questions

Call 802-363-4545 to schedule an appointment.

Does it hurt?

Most new patients are amazed how painless acupuncture can be. While each person experiences acupuncture differently, most people feel a tingling sensation to nothing at all when the needles are inserted. Some people reportedly feel a sensation of excitement, while others feel relaxed. Some even fall asleep during the treatment. Often the sensation is vaguely described as follows: “numbness, tingling, achy-feeling, warmth”. In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), this sensation when acupuncture needles are inserted is known as “De-Qi”. In many cases, patients may not feel the De-Qi sensation and still have a therapeutic treatment.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last three decades has it become popular in the United States. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Americans made up to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners and spent upwards of half a billion dollars on acupuncture treatments.

TCM hold that there are over 1000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by pathways called meridians. These meridians are considered to be pathways in which Qi (pronounced "chi") and blood are circulated between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it.

Qi, “life-force, or vital energy” is believed to help regulate balance in the body. The opposing forces of yin and yang, which represent positive and negative energy and forces in the universe and human body, influence it. In TCM when Qi is blocked that disease and/or pain are the result. Acupuncture keeps the balance between yin and yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of Qi throughout the body and restoring health to the mind and body. The Bladder meridian is the longest pathway of the human body covering 67 points and is known for its effect on relieving sciatica. The Gallbladder meridian is known for its effect on relieving pain such as migraines.

What is Ear Acupuncture or Auricular Acupuncture?

Acupuncture administered on a small part of the body in order to control the other parts of the human body. The ear is considered a micro-system of the human body. Acupuncture treatments often include inserting needles into locations on the ear corresponding to the structure or organ that is presenting with the problem.

Ear acupuncture treats more than pain. It can treat various diseases and disorders, such as hypertension, asthma, constipation, and bring down high fevers. It has been widely used for drug addictions and rehab centers are offering it as treatment for withdrawl symptoms (NADA protocol). Ear acupuncture is a complete micro-system for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of virtually every human illness.

Sometimes ear seeds are placed in the ears on the affected areas to provide an extended micro-stimulation between office visits. The ear seeds are stimulated for about two minutes 2 to 3 times daily. Often the patient finds that by pressing their ear seeds when they are experiencing pain, the pain will significantly reduce and even disappear. It’s a great way for the patient to feel like they are participating in their healing process.

What is an acupuncture treatment?

Treatment by acupuncture consists of the insertion of fine needles into a few carefully selected points on the body. The number of needles used varies from a few to ten or more, and they are left in place for an average of twenty minutes. The total number of treatments required depends on the patient, the condition being treated, and response to treatments. 

There is no age limit for treatment. It is important to advise the practitioner if you are pregnant but pregnancy does not preclude acupuncture or its benefits. Babies and children may be treated with acupressure in lieu of the use of needles. 

What should one do after a treatment? 

Acupuncture changes the state of energy of the body. For this reason, it is best to avoid heavy physical labor following a treatment. Avoidance of alcohol is also recommended. Otherwise no special precautions are necessary. Occasionally patients may notice a brief worsening of the symptoms of the condition prior to an improvement. More often there is some relief from the first or second treatment and this is consolidated with progressive treatments.

How does it work?

Several theories and clinical studies have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various "gates" to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system.

Clinical studies demonstrated that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances called endorphins, which reduce pain. Other clinical studies have found that pain-relieving substances called opiods are released into the body during acupuncture treatment.

Most recent research at the University of Vermont suggests that the connective tissue is a key component of the body’s response to acupuncture. Connective tissue forms a network “connecting” the whole body which maybe when the Qi is activated is able to promote healing. This may also explain why acupuncture needles placed in distal parts of body can affected what may look like unrelated other parts.

What are the main benefits and functions of Acupuncture?

The main benefits and functions can be summarized as follows:

·      Normalization of the autonomic nervous system (body induces healing mode)

·       Pain management

·       Anti-inflammation

·       Surgical analgesia

·       Control of addictions

·       Regeneration

·       Increased Energy

·       Increased sense of Well-being

Throughout history, acupuncture has mainly been used for pain management. The beneficial side effects of acupuncture go beyond having less pain, most patients feel better, have more energy, and miss fewer days of work. In addition, acupuncture is cost effective health care in that patients report seeing their doctor less, avoiding surgery, and using fewer prescription drugs.

Is it safe?

When practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. As a system of health care, acupuncture already has some inherent safeguards. Because the treatment is drug-free, patients do not have to worry about taking several doses of a medication or suffering a possible adverse reaction.

Properly administered, acupuncture does no harm. However, there are certain conditions you should notify an acupuncturist about before undergoing treatment. If you have a pacemaker, for instance, you should not receive electro-acupuncture due to the possibility of electromagnetic interference with the pacemaker. Similarly, if you have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, or if you are a hemophiliac, you may want to consider a different type of care.

What conditions does it treat?

In the late 1970s, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to treat over forty common ailments, including the following disorders:

·      Respiratory (asthma, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis)

·     Gynecology (infertility, menopause, PMS, endometriosis)

·      Musculoskeletal (arthritis, migraines, low back pain, sciatica, neck/shoulder pain, TMJ, and fibromyalgia)

·     Emotional and psychological (such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia)

·     Circulatory (hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia)

·     Addictions (drugs, alcohol, and smoking)

·     Gastrointestinal (ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, and gastritis).

In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. Other clinical studies have indicated that acupuncture is effective in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea during pregnancy and post surgical procedures.

What should I expect on my first visit?

The first visit to an acupuncturist usually begins with the practitioner taking a detailed history. Since traditional Chinese medicine takes a more holistic approach to patient care, you may be asked questions that appear unimportant (questions about your sleep habits, your ability to tolerate heat or cold, your dietary habits, etc.) but are actually vital to the type of care you will receive.

After reviewing your history, the practitioner will begin diagnosing your ailment. Depending on your condition, your tongue, abdomen, and pulse a major diagnostic technique in traditional Chinese medicine will be examined.

Using all of the information obtained during the history and diagnosis, the practitioner will then determine the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the condition, needles will be inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body. Depending on the seriousness and the length of your condition, your first visit may take between 60 - 90 minutes (includes detail evaluation and acupuncture treatment).

How often are acupuncture visits?

In China, acupuncture visits are daily to every other day. It may take 5-6 visits to see significant improvement in your condition. In the beginning, your visits may be 2-3 times a week for several weeks and then extended to once a week. The intensive approach dramatically increases the success rate of therapy. Once the condition is significantly improved or resolved, the treatments are spaced out quarterly or longer as preventative health measures for your well-being. As with any treatment plan, however, make sure that your questions are answered completely, and that the treatment plan seems viable and reasonable.

Is it advantageous to engage in other therapies?

Patients often want to know if they should continue seeing a physician therapist and/or chiropractic for their disorder when they begin acupuncture treatments. It is very advantageous to engage in other treatment modalities especially with muscular-skeletal disorders while concurrently receiving acupuncture. The following treatment modalities work well with acupuncture:

·     Manipulation

·     Mobilization

·     Exercises

Does health insurance cover acupuncture?

Some health insurance companies cover acupuncture in Vermont. Many companies whose headquarters are based in California, Washington, and the mid-west cover acupuncture as a healthcare benefit. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are deductible under Health Savings Accounts (HAS’s).

Many health insurance companies offer discount healthy living programs in which the provider discounts your acupuncture visit. Many state and educational institutions offer a flexible health plan or cafeteria health plan in which the individual sets aside a certain percentage for alternative health care. Lastly, large companies often have employer generated health plans that include acupuncture as a benefit. Acupuncture is a benefit under workmen’s compensation and auto accidents when a primary physician recommends it. It’s best to ask your human resource department whether acupuncture is a covered benefit or a discounted benefit under your health insurance plan.

Do Workers’ Compensation and/or Motor Vehicle Accident insurance cover acupuncture?

Yes, both workers’ compensation and motor vehicle accident insurance covers acupuncture.

Do people get acupuncture even though there is no complaint?

Yes, people also receive acupuncture to balance their overall health, and as a preventative health measure. They want to keep their well-being at its peak.

Call 802-363-4545 to schedule an appointment.

All photos and text © 2006-2013 Jeanette W. Moy.

Last revised: 9/20/13