Frequently Asked Questions
How should I prepare for my first acupuncture appointment?
We ask that you arrive 10 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 be positioned so that you are lying on a treatment table on your back, side, or stomach. We will begin to insert 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 10-20 minutes. That first set of needles will then be removed. In some instances, we may instead choose to begin your treatment by placing needles on your head while you are seated in a chair, using a treatment called “head” or “scalp” acupuncture. If this is the case, you may be asked to perform physical activity instead of lying still on the table. The head needles are often left in place during the second acupuncture procedure.
After the first procedure, you will be repositioned so that you are lying on your back, side, or stomach, and additional needles will be inserted on another area of your body. You will rest for 10-20 minutes with those needles retained. After those needles are removed, there may 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.
Your treatment plan is not likely to change very much for the first few appointments. At your return visits, we will require only a few moments to review how you have been feeling since the last appointment and to answer any questions. Then your acupuncture treatment will begin. We often begin to revise treatment plans, if necessary, after 4 appointments.
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. Most acupuncture research studies use a course of 10-12 appointments over 1-3 months.
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?
Yes, we do. We are in network with Dean Health Plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, The Alliance, Aetna and programs provided by the Veteran’s Administration. Elissa is in-network with United (Kristin is in the process of applying for in-network status with them).
It is important to call your insurance provider and check if acupuncture is a covered service in your plan. Even though we are in-network with the above companies, it does not mean that your particular plan includes acupuncture. If you do have coverage, ask how many visits a year you are allowed and if there is a deductible that must be met before payments will be made by the insurance company. Also, know that some companies will only cover acupuncture for a limited number of diagnosis.
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.