conditions can acupuncture help?
A. Acupuncture can be helpful in a variety of chronic or
periodic painful conditions, such as low back pain, neuralgia,
headaches, premenstrual and peri-menopausal syndromes, and the
pain resulting from arthritis and rheumatism. Various
syndromes that are difficult to treat using Western medicine,
such as the various fibromyalgia syndromes, may also respond
well to acupuncture.
Acupuncture is used as an adjunct in the treatment of asthma,
allergies, and sinus problems, as well as in the acute
symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections. When treated
at an early stage, cold or flu symptoms may be completely
eliminated. Acupuncture is also finding increasing use in
various chronic viral illnesses which cause a variety of
symptoms and fatigue.
Other conditions responsive to acupuncture include repetitive
motion injuries such as those suffered by typists and
musicians, and muscular aches and pains from overwork or
strained muscles. Pain that persists after surgery can also be
In addition, those suffering from Bell's palsy, chronic
disorders of diarrhea or constipation, and some inflammatory
disorders of the digestive system can be relieved.
Acupuncture is now widely recognized as a treatment for
painful conditions such as the pain and swelling of acute
joint sprains and bruises. If treatment can be given within 48
hours of an injury, the results are usually very positive.
Q. How do I know if acupuncture will help my
A. An initial evaluation is conducted to obtain a history and
initial examination. During this "consultation
period" we will discuss your diagnosis and the options
Q. How many treatments will I need?
A. The number of treatments necessary depends on the condition
being treated. Recent injuries and conditions seen at an early
stage will often improve immediately. Those conditions that
have been present for longer periods may require more
treatment, and serious derangements of structure or metabolism
will require extensive therapy.
For many disorders, symptoms reflect underlying conditions
that may have to be treated beyond the point at which symptoms
have improved. If treatments are stopped too quickly after
symptoms begin to respond, the condition may eventually
A course of treatments for recent problems in a healthy person
may range from 2 to 5. In a person with many health problems
and a chronic disease, as many as 7 to 15 sessions may be
required before an initial response is seen.
Q. What are the risks of acupuncture? Is
A. The use of sterile, disposable needles ensures that there
is no risk of disease transmission. The needles are very thin
and are much smaller than the needles used in the familiar
hypodermic injections. The most common complication of
treatment is a small bruise or a drop of blood when the needle
Any medical technique involves some risk. Properly performed,
acupuncture presents minimal hazard when compared to drug
regimens or surgical techniques.
Because the needles are so small and light, the sensation that
occurs when the needles are placed is minimal. A heavy,
distended, sore, or achy feeling is often felt around the area
of effective acupuncture.
Q. My doctor does not believe in acupuncture. Do I have
to believe in order to obtain results?
A. In fact, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs,
oxen, and cats, most of whom probably don't
"believe" in acupuncture, either. It is always
beneficial to have confidence in your physician, but faith in
a particular technique is not required to obtain results.
Q. How should I prepare for treatment sessions?
A. The best general advice is to come in a calm state. Try to
arrive ten or fifteen minutes before your appointment to allow
yourself a chance to relax. Vigorous exercise or sexual
activity in the hour before treatment is not recommended.
You should not have recently eaten a large meal, nor should
you be fasting for more than 6 hours before your appointment.
The use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs is also not
recommended prior to or just following a treatment.
Comfortable, loose clothing should be worn, and, if possible,
you should not wear any metallic jewelry, watches, or
earrings. Makeup and nail polish should be minimized or
Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or strongly
Q. What happens during the treatment?
A. Depending on the areas to be treated, you may be positioned
on your back, your stomach, your side, or sitting. Be certain
that you can remain relaxed in this position, as you may not
wish to move for the duration of the treatment, usually 15 to
It is best to practice a slow and relaxed abdominal breathing
during treatment, and to avoid trying to do any mental work.
Abdominal breathing means allowing your abdomen to expand as
you inhale, and to contract as you exhale.
What sensations will I experience during treatment?
A. Usually, there is a pleasant state of calm, which develops
during the treatment and may persist for some time. You may
even fall nearly asleep during the session. In areas that have
been treated, a sensation of heaviness or swelling may persist
for up to an hour or so after treatment.
You may find that the pain or discomfort of the condition may
be reduced by 20 or 30% or even completely eliminated.
Frequently, the relief will persist, though in some situations
the pain will return after a few hours or days to its former
level. In certain conditions, a worsening of pain is to be
expected before improvement is seen.
For some disorders, no effect is noticed immediately and the
condition takes a few days or a series of treatments to
respond. Be sure to tell us of the response to treatment at
the next appointment so that necessary changes can be made to
Q .What should I do after treatment?
A. It is often helpful to sit quietly following a treatment,
and relax. A gentle walk or very mild exercise can also be
helpful. Large meals, vigorous exercise, alcohol or excessive
aggravation should be avoided.
Q. Will Chinese "herbal" formulas help me?
A. Most physicians trained in Oriental medicine will prescribe
dietary supplements derived from plants and minerals, though
animal products are sometimes used. Sometimes these may be
part of the initial treatment, or they may be used after a
series of acupuncture sessions has clarified the diagnosis.
Patients should expect that any behavioral or dietary changes
will need to be continued to maintain the benefit of the
Oriental approach, and often dietary supplements are taken
daily for weeks or months. Free of most of the side effects of
pharmaceutical drugs, Chinese formulations are often available
in modern extract or tablet form that is more convenient than
the traditional "soups" used in the Orient.