Common Questions and Answers




Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture?
  • What are the needles like?
  • Does it hurt?
  • How quickly can I expect to feel better?
  • How often should I be treated?
  • Does acupuncture always help?
  • What should I wear for the treatment?
  • Does insurance cover acupuncture?
  • Is acupuncture contraindicated or not recommended for conditions?
  • Are there risks or side effects to acupuncture?
  • I am afraid of needles can I get acupuncture?
  • Are there studies that look at the effectiveness of acupuncture?

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture is using acupuncture and other modalities to help the body find balance.  It is a different way of looking at the body.  While Acupuncturist do not diagnosis medical conditions we look at the conditions of the person and look for patterns.  Where and how is the body utilizing the bodies energy and circulating blood?  While most medical providers separate the body in a different diagnosis, we look for ways in which your body is utilizing it's daily energy to eat, sleep, breathe, sweat, move, go to the bathroom, etc...  We look for ways to help circulate your energy and blood to improve your health.  

Have you ever looked at an acupuncture model for points?  Many of the acupuncture points are located surrounding joints.  Most pain and loss of motion is because a joint is not working so well.   Acupuncture can be used in a number of ways to help pain.  There is treatment that can be provided to the local area of pain much like an antibiotic might be used to prevent a local infection in a cut.  Acupuncture can also be used to treat systemic treatment much like an oral antibiotic to treat the whole body.  While most people come for acupuncture for pain there are other conditions that can be treated using acupuncture. Acupuncturists are trained to look at the patterns that the body has created symptoms for and using tools such as acupuncture needles to circulate the blood and energy of the body.  Acupuncturists are trained in Masters degree programs, go through national board testing and are licensed in most states.

What are the needles like?

Acupuncture needles are thin, solid, metallic needles regulated by the FDA as a medical device.  Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection. We use a needle once, then dispose of it.  The needle is inserted under the skin typically into the muscles into an acupuncture point or point known as an painful point or sometimes referred to as trigger points.  Some points are very superficial and may only go into the skin a few millimeters, some may go into the skin about 20 millimeters or 2 centimeters.  There are also areas where there are thicker muscles and the needles may go in deeper.

The following is informational in nature: To learn more about needle size you have to understand that most needle sizes in medicinal use, as the number gets bigger the smaller the diameter of the needle.  So a typical hypodermic needle that is used for a blood draw is around the size of 21 which measures at 0.8192 millimeters, so almost a millimeter.   Acupuncture needles typically use, range from a size of 32-36.  A 32 is 0.25 millimeters and a 36 is 0.20 millimeters.  Coarse hair is typically 0.181 millimeters.  The insertion of the needles is under the skin into the muscles.  They can be very superficial but can go in about 20 millimeters or 2 centimeters in some places and where there are bigger muscles they can go deeper.  There is also angles to the insertion some may go in at 90, 45, 20 or 0 degrees in relation to the skin depending on the structure of the underlying tissue.  To learn more about needles used in medicine read this interesting article.

Does it hurt?

People experience needling differently. There are different styles of needling.  While some people feel nothing at all; others experience a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin that can be followed by a mild sensation of cramping, tingling, numbness, traveling warmth, or heaviness.  The needle may also create a muscle twitch response. The needles are usually placed in an acupuncture point and left in place for twenty to forty minutes with needle stimulation possible. The depth of the needle can be just at the surface of the skin or deeper when there are deeper muscles such as in the buttocks.  Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.  

How quickly can I expect to feel better?

In general, you should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture in a few treatments. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve. If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take a course of treatments to help resolve.

How often should I be treated?

Typically patients can expect one to two times a week. If the condition is acute and painful, we may want to do treatments 2-3 times per week for the first couple of weeks. The benefits of acupuncture treatments tend to hold longer as you receive treatments, so what typically happens is that patient's condition improves and the treatments are then spread out further until we decide the condition is at where the patient is happy with the results.  Patients also will come in if there is a flare-up of the condition or if something else comes up that they would like to see if acupuncture could help with.

Does acupuncture always help?

No, but it usually does. If you do not feel any benefit after course of treatments, then acupuncture may not work for you for that particular condition.

What should I wear for the treatment?

Bring a tank top and shorts to make access to treatment areas easier and gowns are available if needed.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

In most cases involving an injury from work and from an automobile accident the treatment may be covered. Health insurance may now cover acupuncture for a limited number of conditions when performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist.    

Is acupuncture contraindicated or not recommended for conditions?

In most cases acupuncture can be performed safely. 

  • People that have any bleeding disorders or are currently taking blood thinning or anticoagulants should consult with their treating physician before undergoing treatment for acupuncture. 
  • People that currently have a pacemaker it is not recommended to use acupuncture with electrical stimulation.  People with breast implants or any other surgical implant that could be affected by having an acupuncture needle insertion close to the location of the implant should notify the acupuncturist of such implant. 
  • Pregnancy in the first trimester if the condition of the pregnancy is in jeopardy certain acupuncture points should not be used.  If you ever believe you are pregnant while receiving acupuncture over a course of time, it is good to let the practitioner know this.

Are there risks or side effects to acupuncture?Usually not. Acupuncture is a very safe method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function.  If you have a fear of needles there are also non-needling techniques that are available that are also effective.Done properly, acupuncture rarely causes serious side effects. Many people feel a brief stinging sensation, like a pinprick, during insertion of the needles. Others experience a dull ache around the needle after it goes in.Side effects:1. Worsening of symptoms2. Bleeding3. Bruising4. Muscle Spasms5. Skin irritation6. Mild pain in the area treated7. Muscle weakness and soreness8. Brief generalized fatigue or nauseaRisks: (Some of the risks mentioned below are EXTREMELY RARE!)

  1. Infection
  2. Fainting
  3. Nerve Damage
  4. Punctured Lung
  5. Accidental Injury to organs (Brain, Spinal Cord, Heart, Liver, Spleen, Kidney)

I am afraid of needles can I receive acupuncture?
While most people do well with acupuncture needles due to their small size, there is still people interested in acupuncture without getting needled.  Acupuncture is a tool we use at acupuncture points or painful points to help circulate the bodies blood and energy.  We can also use non needle techniques to move the blood and energy.  Please let your acupuncturist know that you are looking for a non needling technique due to fear of the needles.

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Acupuncture Studies


 Acupuncture is currently being studied for a number of conditions.  New studies come out all the time in support or opposition to acupuncture.  Here are recent studies that are supportive of acupuncture for a number of conditions.

Acupuncture in primary headache treatment

Cochrane Review of Acupuncture for the treatment of tension headache

Cochrane Review of Acupuncture  for the treatment of migraine headaches

Acupuncture for pain

Cochrane Review of Acupuncture for neck pain.

Cochrane Review of Acupuncture for chronic low back pain

Acupuncture helps chronic pain

Acupuncture was added to German Insurance Program due to study on acupuncture

Acupuncture Stories



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