What can I expect at my first acupuncture visit?
The first visit lasts up to two hours - an hour and a half of health history and intake, and a half hour of needling. You will want to bring copies of your lab work, MRI or X-ray reports with you as well. Getting acupuncture is a lot like going to the gym; it's a workout for the inside of your body and you want to be well fueled with a decent meal and fluids before and after acupuncture, and wear loose, comfortable clothing. I prefer that my patients rest for two hours following their session, or limit themselves to light activities of everyday living. I also suggest that they refrain from swimming at the beach or freshwater ponds for 24 hours.
Followup visits typically last an hour and are about a half hour of intake and a half hour of needling.
Do I need acupuncture?
This flow chart can help you decide.
Does my insurance cover acupuncture?
Check your policy to see if acupuncture is covered by calling your customer service number or getting an updated copy of your policy. Here are some questions to ask your carrier if acupuncture is part of your policy:
1) What specific conditions are covered for acupuncture care?
2) How many visits are covered? What is my copay?
3) Which providers need to administer care in order to be covered?
Does Medicare cover acupuncture?
On Jan. 22, 2020, a decision memo was released stating that Medicare will now cover 20 visits of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. See the full memo here.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work? Isn't it just a placebo effect?
No. You do not have to have "faith" or a positive attitude for acupuncture to work. It is not magic or "voo-doo" nor is it a placebo effect. Acupuncture works by regulating the qi in the meridians of the body. One theory is that meridians occupy the spaces between the fascia, or connective tissue that covers the muscles and organs in a three-dimensional pattern. By needling the points on the meridians, I am giving your brain very precise physiological instructions, like a custom computer program, for your brain to execute. The only thing you have to do is show up for your appointment and do your best to relax and listen to my instructions during the session. There are plenty of studies that have shown acupuncture works; we also use MRI technology to pinpoint which parts of the brain and body are activated when specific points are needled. We use science to prove that acupuncture is effective, not faith.
I hate needles. Can I still benefit from acupuncture?
Yes! Although acupuncture needles are small, sterile and safe, some people are still afraid to receive the health benefits of acupuncture because they think it will hurt. Many of my patients feel a small tap or slight sting when the needle is first inserted, but goes away almost instantly. Many patients don't feel anything, and that is normal too. Acupuncture needles are the width of your hair, and solid, which means they are usually a lot less painful than the typical shot or having blood drawn, which uses larger, hollow needles.
If you are still afraid to have acupuncture done, check out my page on auricular therapy. Using tiny seeds or crystals on band-aids, I can still treat your health concerns using reflex points on your ear. They last for five days.
You can also get Japanese-style acupuncture at my clinic. Instead of inserting needles INTO the skin, I can tape the needles ON the skin. Using ion pumping cords, I can move the "qi" from one point to another depending on what you need to have balanced without breaking the skin. This type of treatment style is suitable for everyone, but it is especially helpful for those who have needle phobias or religious objections to piercing the skin.