Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

  • ARE THERE RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS TO ACUPUNCTURE?

    The acupuncture needle is a fine, disposable (one-time use), sterile, FDA-approved medical device. While acupuncture is a highly safe form of physical medicine, there are a few risks. These include bruising, fainting, muscle spasms, bleeding, nerve damage (extremely rare) and punctured organs (extremely rare).

  • DO ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES HURT?

    There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. One reason is that they are much finer than those used for injections and blood tests - 25 to 50 times thinner than hypodermic needles. Further, the actual insertion is done very quickly. While some feel nothing at all, others experience a brief moment of discomfort, sometimes followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling or numbness (desirable sensations known as "attaining qi"). The needles are left in place for approximately 20 minutes. Most people find the experience relaxing, and some even fall asleep during sessions.

  • DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN RESULTS?

    No. As a case in point, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs and cats, most of who probably don't "believe" in acupuncture. It is always beneficial to have confidence in your practitioner, but faith in a particular technique is not necessary to obtain results.

  • DO INSURANCE PLANS COVER CHIROPRACTIC?

    Yes. Chiropractic care is included in most health insurance plans, including major medical plans, workers’ compensation, Medicare, some Medicaid plans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans for federal employees, among others. Chiropractic care is also available to active-duty members of the armed forces at more than 60 military bases and is available to veterans at more than 60 major veterans medical facilities.

  • DOES CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT REQUIRE A REFERRAL FROM AN MD?

    A referral is usually not needed to see a doctor of chiropractic (DC); however, your health plan may have specific referral requirements. You may want to contact your employer’s human resources department—or the insurance plan directly—to find out if there are any referral requirements. Most plans allow you to just call and schedule an appointment with a DC.

  • HOW DEEP DO THE NEEDLES GO?

    Acupuncture points are located on or close to the skin's surface, but needles can be inserted from 1/16 to a few inches deep. The depth of insertion depends on the nature of the location and condition being addressed, the patients' size, age, and constitution, as well as the acupuncturist's style and training.

  • HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

    There are two kinds of explanations about how acupuncture works-traditional Chinese medicine and Western science. In traditional Chinese medicine, there exists meridian system through human body and more than 360 acupoints are located at these meridians. Qi, or a stream of energy, flows through these meridians and acupoints to support tissue, muscles and organs. When the Qi is obstructed in certain critical points, or acupoints, the function of tissue, muscles and organs will be impaired. By inserting acupuncture needles into acupoints helps the release of Qi flow and corrects Qi imbalances at the organ level to improve your energy and internal processing.

    Western science posits that acupuncture triggers three primary mechanisms in the body:

    • Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of pain-reducing opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture.

    • Changes in brain chemistry: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by altering the way in which neurotransmitters and neurohormones are released. Acupuncture has also been documented to affect sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes involved in regulating blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature. Modulation of subcortical structures of the brain may be an important mechanism by which acupuncture exerts its complex multisystem effects.

    • Changes in blood flow: Acupuncture and Oriental medicine affects the circulation of blood to the affected area, which helps to remove pain-causing chemicals and restore normal function.

  • HOW IS A CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT PERFORMED?

    Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure that utilizes the highly refined skills developed during the doctor of chiropractic’s intensive years of chiropractic education. The chiropractic physician typically uses his or her hands--or an instrument--to manipulate the joints of the body, particularly the spine, in order to restore or enhance joint function. This often helps resolve joint inflammation and reduces the patient's pain. Chiropractic manipulation is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort. The chiropractor adapts the procedure to meet the specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following treatment.

  • IS CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN?

    Yes, children can benefit from chiropractic care. Children are very physically active and experience many types of falls and blows from activities of daily living as well as from participating in sports. Injuries such as these may cause many symptoms including back and neck pain, stiffness, soreness or discomfort. Chiropractic care is always adapted to the individual patient. It is a highly skilled treatment, and in the case of children, very gentle.

  • IS CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT ONGOING?

    The hands-on nature of the chiropractic treatment is essentially what requires patients to visit the chiropractor a number of times. To be treated by a chiropractor, a patient needs to be in his or her office. In contrast, a course of treatment from medical doctors often involves a pre-established plan that is conducted at home (i.e. taking a course of antibiotics once a day for a couple of weeks). A chiropractor may provide acute, chronic, and/or preventive care thus making a certain number of visits sometimes necessary.

  • IS CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT SAFE?

    Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints. Although chiropractic has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. Current research shows that minor discomfort or soreness following spinal manipulation typically fades within 24 hours.

    When discussing the risks of any health care procedure, it is important to look at that risk in comparison to other treatments available for the same condition. In this regard, the risks of serious complications from spinal manipulation for conditions such as neck pain and headache compare very favorably with even the most conservative care options. For example, the risks associated with some of the most common treatments for musculoskeletal pain—over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and prescription painkillers—are significantly greater than those of chiropractic manipulation.

  • WHAT ARE SOME OTHER CHINESE MEDICINE TECHNIQUES BESIDES ACUPUNCTURE?

    There are a variety of techniques used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Below are a few that are typically used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance its effects:

    Electro-Acupuncture: Acupuncture needles are used to conduct small electrical currents. This technique, often used in conjunction with acupuncture, has been proven to decrease pain, accelerate healing, and significantly reduce inflammation, edema and swelling.

    Laser: A cold laser is used to stimulate acupuncture points using the same rules of point selection as needle acupuncture. Laser acupuncture may be used solely or in combination with needles for any given condition over a course of treatment.

    Moxibustion: A technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to heat an acupuncture point, particularly in the treatment of certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a stick, lit, and held over specific areas of the body. Moxa is sent home as “homework” for certain patients and will not be used in the office.

    Cupping: In cupping, a glass or plastic cup is suctioned onto the body and kept in place for about 5-10 minutes. This stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and enhances the acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.

    Gua Sha: Gua Sha literally means "scrape away heat". It is performed by applying pressurized strokes using a specialized scraping instrument. Gua Sha is used for many ailments from muscle aches to fevers to digestive and gynecological issues.

  • WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF ACUPUNCTURE?

    While it originated in China, acupuncture is used throughout the world. Different styles have developed over the centuries based on different theories. We would encourage you to speak with your practitioner about his/her style. While the basic theoretical principles of acupuncture are fairly consistent, styles of acupuncture differ greatly in terms of technique and diagnosis. There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but you should understand as much as possible about the treatment being proposed. Below is a general guide:

    Traditional Chinese Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is the dominant style of acupuncture studied and practiced in the U.S.

    Japanese Acupuncture: "Japanese-style" acupuncture uses the same meridians and points as Chinese acupuncture but takes a more subtle route, typically using fewer and thinner needles with less stimulation.

    Korean Hand Acupuncture: This technique focuses on points in the hand that correspond to areas of the body and to certain disharmonies.

    Auricular Acupuncture: This system, commonly used for pain control and drug, alcohol, and nicotine addiction, focuses on points in the ear that correspond to areas of the body and to certain disharmonies.

  • WHAT TYPE OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING DO CHIROPRACTORS HAVE?

    Doctors of chiropractic are educated as primary-contact health care providers, with an emphasis on diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the musculoskeletal system (the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine and extremities) and the nerves that supply them. Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions. The typical applicant for chiropractic college has already acquired four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four academic years of professional study is the standard. Doctors of chiropractic are educated in orthopedics, neurology, physiology, human anatomy, clinical diagnosis including laboratory procedures, diagnostic imaging, exercise, nutrition rehabilitation and more. Because chiropractic care includes highly skilled manipulation/adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical technique training to master these important manipulative procedures. In total, the chiropractic college curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency that is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • WHY IS THERE A POPPING SOUND WHEN A JOINT IS ADJUSTED?

    Adjustment (or manipulation) of a joint may result in the release of a gas bubble between the joints, which makes a popping sound. The same thing occurs when you “crack” your knuckles. The noise is caused by the change of pressure within the joint, which results in gas bubbles being released. There is usually minimal, if any, discomfort involved.

First Time Patient

We pride ourselves in providing excellent patient education along with our state-of-the-art chiropractic care. Even so, from time to time our newest patients will often ask these questions:

  • ARE THE NEEDLES STERILE?

    Yes. Licensed acupuncturists are required to be certified in Clean Needle Techniques and only use sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles.

  • DO ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES HURT?

    There is little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. One reason is that they are much finer than those used for injections and blood tests - 25 to 50 times thinner than hypodermic needles. Further, the actual insertion is done very quickly. While some feel nothing at all, others experience a brief moment of discomfort, sometimes followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling or numbness (desirable sensations known as "attaining qi"). The needles are left in place for approximately 20 minutes. Most people find the experience relaxing, and some even fall asleep during sessions.

  • HOW LONG DO APPOINTMENTS LAST?

    The length of acupuncture sessions varies depending on your condition. Typically, your first visit will be longer than your subsequent visits. Sessions can range from 30 to 60 minutes.

  • HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?

    Length, number and frequency of sessions vary. For most conditions, a series of several sessions is necessary to achieve the maximum benefit. After an initial consultation, the acupuncturist should provide you with a treatment plan that includes the techniques to be used, as well as the frequency and duration of treatment.

    A typical series of sessions consists of 4 to 10 visits, once or twice a week, with sessions lasting 30 to 60 minutes each. Acute conditions, such as sprains, generally require less time and frequency, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several (or several dozen) sessions. Appointments are scheduled further and further apart after the optimal response has been achieved. Some people experience great benefits from weekly or monthly sessions.

  • HOW WILL I FEEL AFTER ACUPUNCTURE?

    Patients normally feel relaxed and calm. You may feel tired or drowsy for a few hours if the experience is particularly strong. You may also experience a short-term flair-up of symptoms in the healing process. After a session, it is a good idea to sit quietly and relax. A gentle walk or very mild exercise can also be helpful. Avoid big meals, vigorous exercise, alcohol and stressful situations.

  • WHAT CONDITIONS DO CHIROPRACTORS TREAT?

    Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) care for patients of all ages, with a variety of health conditions. DCs are especially well known for their expertise in caring for patients with back pain, neck pain and headaches...particularly with their highly skilled adjustments. They also care for patients with a wide range of injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, involving the muscles, ligaments and joints. These painful conditions often involve or impact the nervous system, which can cause referred pain and dysfunction distant to the region of injury. The benefits of chiropractic care extend to general health issues, as well, since our body structure affects our overall function. DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.

  • WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE TREATMENT?

    We recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to receive acupuncture treatment. You should be aware that the acupuncturist may need to access points on your torso, arms and legs. It also helps to be in a calm state.

  • WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON MY FIRST VISIT?

    For your initial consultation, the acupuncturist needs to assess your general health. You will be asked about your current symptoms and any treatment you've received so far. It is also important to gather detailed information about your medical history and that of your family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. The purpose is to identify what needs to be addressed in order to target your specific complaint, and to boost your overall vitality.

    Stimulation of specific areas affects the functioning of various organs. However, those areas may not be close to the part of the body where you are experiencing a problem. For example, if you suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or hand. There are 365 specific acupuncture points on the body, and an unlimited number of non-specific points. An experienced acupuncturist will use a selection of these for each session. Often during the course of a few sessions, different points will be selected as the patient's condition changes. Other techniques, such as electro-acupuncture, cold laser, massage, or tapping with a rounded probe, are particularly suitable for small children or for people with a fear of needles.

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