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FAQs: About Acupuncture

Is Acupuncture Safe?

One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort. Acupuncture is a safe technique, provided that practitioners are properly trained and follow appropriate techniques. AFCI-trained practitioners of acupuncture use single-use, sterile disposable needles and have been trained regarding precautions and contraindications to acupuncture. The York Acupuncture Safety Study, a prospective study of 34407acupuncture treatments found no serious adverse effects and only 43 cases of minor adverse effects, the most common of which were nausea and fainting.

It is important to inform the practitioner of your medical history, medications and if you are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant, as acupuncture treatment may have to be modified or may not be appropriate.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is the stimulation, by insertion of needles, of specific points on the body which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones. Acupuncture affects the functioning of the hormonal system, promotes a decrease in inflammation, increased circulation and relief from pain.  To learn more about how acupuncture works click here.

How many sessions of treatment will I need?

Many people start to see a significant difference within one to two treatments but some take longer to respond depending on the condition being treated. If no difference is felt by the end of the fifth or sixth treatment, the diagnosis of the condition should be reconsidered and further medical investigations may be needed.

Acute injuries are treated as soon as possible and often daily at first. Chronic conditions may need repeat maintenance treatments to maintain the momentum after an initial period of frequent treatments. Post treatment exercise and discipline in diet is extremely important for continued improvement and recovery.

Generally treatments every second day (Mon, Wed and Fri) would be considered frequent treatment. Maintenance treatments could range from weekly to monthly or when symptoms begin to recur.

What conditions can be helped with acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a gentle and safe treatment that’s suitable for all ages—children to seniors. It’s used to treat a wide range of conditions:

Injured workers return to work sooner when their practitioners include acupuncture with their treatments.

Competitive athletes use acupuncture before their events to enhance their performance. Post-event, it improves their recovery and helps to heal injuries.

Pain—acupuncture is used to treat a vast number of painful conditions such as sciatica, lower back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, sprains and strains, whiplash and headaches, as well as neurological and other medical conditions.

Cancer— acupuncture is used to treat Chemotherapy-induced nausea and

Lymphedema (swelling that usually occurs in the arm following a mastectomy).

TMJ (Temporo-mandibular joint) dysfunction, is effectively managed with acupuncture.
Other conditions that may be helped with acupuncture include:*

Ear, Eye, Nose and Throat Disorders, including: 

Sinusitis
Hay fever
Dizziness

Gastrointestinal Disorders, including:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Colitis
Constipation
Diarrhea
Abdominal bloating

Gynecological/ Genitourinary. including:
PMS
Menstrual problems
Prostatitis

Neurological Disorders. including:
Multiple Sclerosis
Neuralgias
Cerebral Palsy
Stroke

Respiratory Disorders, including:
Asthma
Bronchitis
Colds and Flu

This is not a comprehensive list. If you don’t see your condition listed here, speak to your practitioner.

Is acupuncture painful? What does it feel like?

Acupuncture is usually a very comfortable treatment. Needles are very fine, metallic and as thin as a hair, making them quite painless upon insertion. Everyone experiences acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or very minimal pain as the needles are inserted. You may experience a mild aching sensation or warmth around the needle site.

What activities should I avoid following acupuncture treatment?

Strenuous physical activities (including exercise) should be avoided for at least two hours after treatment.

A good feeling after acupuncture should not be mistaken for full recovery. Be sure that you have regained your strength and stamina before engaging in any activities that you were unable to perform before your acupuncture treatments.

What should I do before and after an acupuncture treatment?

Try to arrive rested and relaxed for your treatment.

Eat a light meal prior to treatment, and avoid consuming caffeine or nicotine for 90 minutes before and afterwards.

You should continue to take any prescribed medications on schedule.

Will my insurance plan cover acupuncture?

Many insurance plans offer coverage for acupuncture treatment. Contact your insurance company directly to find out if your plan covers acupuncture, and any limits to the number of treatments covered. Acupuncture may also be covered if you sustained a workplace injury or were injured in a motor vehicle accident.

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