Frequently Asked Questions
How should I prepare for my first acupuncture appointment?
We ask that you arrive at least 20 minutes early for your first appointment to fill out paperwork. Bring a list of the medications and supplements that you are currently taking. Wear loose fitting clothing. It is best not to arrive with a completely empty stomach or directly after eating a large meal. If you are covered by insurance bring your insurance card to the appointment so we can make a copy of it.
What can I expect to happen during an acupuncture treatment?
The first visit will take approximately an hour and a half. After you finish filling out your forms we will take you into the treatment room and ask you questions about the main complaint and about your general health. We may perform a physical exam. We will make a diagnosis and choose a treatment plan based on the information that you give us, as well as our observations, which include looking at your tongue and feeling your pulse. Next you will lie on the treatment table, and we will insert between 15 and 25 needles, some located near or on the site of the main complaint, and others located a distance away, such as on the hands and feet. You will relax with those needles in place for about 20 minutes. If the practitioner feels that it is necessary there will be some additional body work therapy applied, such as cupping, tuina or guasha. Before finishing the appointment, dietary and lifestyle advice will be given and, in some cases, a course of Chinese herbs will be recommended.
Who can be helped with acupuncture?
Acupuncture can help anyone who is experiencing a breakdown in their health. We treat your root health imbalances, allowing your body to heal itself. Because we treat the root cause of your health concerns, not just the symptoms, we are often successful when conventional therapies have failed. You can come to us for problems that are physical, psychological, emotional and even spiritual in nature. We can treat your most stubborn or complicated health problems. Acupuncture is also an excellent preventive health therapy. Using the principles of Chinese medicine, we are able to recognize imbalances and treat them even before symptoms develop. For a complete list of health problems for which people commonly seek acupuncture please visit our page on Conditions Treated.
How many treatments will I need?
We will give you an honest assessment of your treatment needs based on our experience and our desire to give you the best possible care. Each individual’s health problems are unique, so the number of treatments needed will vary. Chronic and severe health concerns generally require a greater number of treatments. Mild conditions or conditions with a recent onset might be resolved after only one visit. An individual’s general state of health and the extent to which they are willing to make dietary and lifestyle changes may also play a role in how quickly they recover.
In the case of painful conditions, patients usually begin to notice results within 3-4 treatments over the course of two weeks, and we typically recommend an initial course of six treatments over a three or four week period. At the sixth treatment we will evaluate progress and decide what the best course of action is from that point forward.
Does it hurt?
Your comfort is our priority. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and their insertion in no way compares to the sensation of having an injection or having blood drawn. On some parts of the body, such as the back, you may feel nothing at all. On other parts, such as your hands or feet, you may feel a sensation that is comparable to a mosquito bite (without the itch). Sensations that are most often reported are a dull ache or tingling feeling radiating from the needle location. This is caused by the Qi (energy) moving in the meridian and is a desired effect. The sensation only lasts a few seconds, after which you should feel relaxed and comfortable and may even fall asleep.
Do you take insurance?
Some insurance plans in Wisconsin cover acupuncture or offer an alternative medicine benefit. Insurance companies from which patients have had success receiving reimbursement include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, and Cigna, to name a few. It is important to call your company and get details from them about your benefits and limitations. If you do have coverage for acupuncture, at the time of your appointment you will pay for your treatment in full, and we will give you what is called a superbill. This is a receipt, or bill, that has the necessary information on it, including diagnosis codes, procedure codes and our national provider identification numbers, to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Our office does not deal directly with insurance providers or claim submissions. The good news is that acupuncture is covered by Health Savings Accounts and Flex Spending Accounts. Many of our patients are able to use their “benicards” for payment.
Are acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe. The National Institutes of Health states that the adverse side effects of acupuncture are extremely low, often lower than the risks of conventional therapies for the same condition. The needles are sterilized by the manufacturer, packaged for single use and disposable. Our practitioners were required to take a course and pass a board exam on Clean Needle Technique, assuring prevention of infection.
We source our Chinese herbs from high quality, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified manufacturers who primarily use herbs that are grown and processed in the United States. Chinese herbs are rarely administered individually. Our herbal formulas are combinations of herbs that have been carefully and thoughtfully refined over centuries of use. What this means for you is that the dosage of each individual herb is low, and that all of the herbs work together to create a balanced formula. Our herbal formulas are safe and almost never have side effects. The practitioners at Family Acupuncture have received additional herbal training beyond the level of many acupuncturists. We carefully select your herbal formulas based on your unique constitution.
What is the difference between a licensed acupuncturist and a physician or chiropractor who practices acupuncture?
Our practitioners completed a full-time Master’s degree program that included nearly 3,000 hours of class time and 1,000 hours of clinical practice in Oriental Medicine. The principles that drive diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are vastly different from that of modern medicine, and are essential in determining the proper selection of acupuncture points and accompanying treatments. By properly diagnosing a patient’s unique imbalance, we are able to treat the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.
A medical doctor or chiropractor must complete 300 hours of class time before practicing acupuncture. This training focuses on learning needling technique and learning point location according to treatment of symptoms. Treatment is applied according to western medical principles.