Q: What is acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points which have been empirically proven effective in the treatment of specific disorders. Recently their location has been confirmed by electromagnetic research.
Q What problems can be treated by acupuncture?
A: The World Health Organization has publicly announced that acupuncture is suitable for treating the following:
- Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders
- Toothaches, pain after tooth extraction, gingivitis, acute or chronic otitis, acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, nasal catarrh, and acute tonsillitis.
- Respiratory Disorders
- Bronchial asthma (in children or adults when uncomplicated).
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Esophageal and cardio spasm, hiccup, gastroptosis, acute or chronic gastritis, sour stomach, chronic duodenal ulcers, acute or chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, and paralytic ileus.
- Eye Disorders
- Acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, near sightedness (in children), and cataracts without complications.
- Neurological and Muscular Disorders
- Headaches, migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, facial paralysis (within the first three to six months), post-stroke paresis, peripheral neuritis, neurological bladder dysfunction, bed wetting, intercostal neuralgia, cervical syndrome, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pains and osteoarthritis.
In addition, acupuncture has been used for centuries in China to treat a host of other problems, such as knee pain, sprains and strains, and most gynecological complaints. Most patients who have been treated by acupuncture notice a considerable improvement in their general health. This is because acupuncture can correct those minor disturbances in health which are undetected by other methods of diagnosis, and which if they remained untreated could in later years easily turn into a serious overt and easily recognized disease. The sensitivity of Chinese pulse diagnosis makes it possible to detect minor disturbances, enabling immediate treatment to be given at an early stage.
The above list of diseases might seem to some people rather long, as if acupuncture were to be regarded as a general panacea. It should be realized however that acupuncture is not a single drug, such as penicillin, which is therapeutically applicable to only a limited variety of infections. It is, on the contrary, a complete system of medicine which encompasses the whole field of therapeutics.
Q: How deep do the needles go?
A: That depends upon the nature of the problem, the underlying anatomy of the points selected, the patient’s size, age, and constitution, and upon the acupuncturist’s style or school. In general, needles are inserted from ¼” to 1” in depth.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: In Chinese, acupuncture is bu tong, painless. However, if the correct stimulus of the needles has been obtained, the patient should feel some cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling, or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected energy pathway or meridian. In English, these sensations may be categorized by some people as types of pain, which they are not in Chinese. In any case, if there is any discomfort, it is usually mild.
Q: Are the needles clean?
A: Most acupuncturists in America today use pre-sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles thus absolutely assuring that there is no transmission of communicable disease from patient to patient due to contaminated needles. The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists does include a Clean Needle Test as part of every national board exam for acupuncturists in America.
Q: How does acupuncture work?
A: That’s a big question. Traditionally, acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (energy) and Xue (Blood) through discrete channels or meridians which traverse the body similar but not identical to the nervous and blood circulatory systems. According to this theory, acupuncture regulates this flow of Qi shunting it to those areas where it is Deficient and draining it from where it is Excess. Thus acupuncture regulates and restores the harmonious energetic balance of the body. In Chinese there is a famous dictum, “There is no pain if there is a free flow; if there is pain, there is no free flow.” Essentially acupuncture promotes the free and balanced flow of Qi and Blood.
Q: How many treatments will I need?
A: That depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of each individual’s complaint. Generally from five to fifteen treatments are adequate for the majority of chronic ailments. Many acute conditions may only require a single treatment and some degenerative conditions may require scores of treatments. However, the patient has the right to expect that their major complaint will be addressed and treated in a direct and timely manner.
Q: Is there anything I need to do before receiving an acupuncture treatment?
A: Yes, the following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:
- Maintain good personal hygiene to reduce the possibility of bacterial infection.
- Wear loose clothing. Women should not wear one-piece dresses.
- Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex.
Q: Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?
A: Yes, again.
- There is no need to be frightened. RELAX. Relaxation is something that cannot be overemphasized.
- If you experience dizziness, nausea, cold sweat, shortness of breath, or faintness during treatment – this is known as needle shock. Immediately inform your practitioner and they will withdraw the needles. Needle shock is primarily due to anxiety in first-time patients. It rarely happens if the patient is treated lying down.
- Feel free to let your practitioner know of any pain or burning sensations experienced during acupuncture or moxibustion. If you find acupuncture or electro-acupuncture unbearable at any point during treatment, be sure to speak up so that the proper adjustments can be made.
- Do not change position or move suddenly.
Q: What can I expect after treatment?
A: One may experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some of the pain may return. In a few cases, the pain may seem even worse. This is called the rebound effect. By the next day, the pain can be expected to gradually improve. Often the most dramatic results are experienced in the first treatment. However, one should see further incremental improvement after each subsequent treatment. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to experience the pain diminish over the next couple of days.
For more information, please contact:
Washington State Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Center
663 South King Street, Seattle, WA 98104
Tel: (206) 292-9646