Are there side effects?
When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free fromadverse or addictive side effects. Quite often, a sense of relaxation and well-being occurs during and after treatments. While undergoing therapy for one ailment, other problems may resolve concurrently. This is a common side benefit that again demonstrates the value of balancing the quality and quantity of "vital energy" within the entire person.
What are the limits of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture?
Oriental Medicine and acupuncture are powerful healing tools, but they are not panaceas nor the solution to every health care problem. Both Western and Oriental Medicine have their respective strengths and weaknesses, which is why in modern China, the two systems are used together. When appropriately combined, the patient is well served.
Generally speaking, acute, life threatening conditions are best handled by Western medical doctors. Routine health problems and chronic conditions, for which drug therapy and surgery have not been effective, often benefit from Acupuncture / Oriental Medicine.
What should I ask the practitioner I'm considering?
Always ask any practitioner about the extent of his or her training. Have them explain the differences between Oriental Medicine and Western Medicine in language that you can understand.
Oriental medicine has its limitations just as Western Medicine does. Look for practitioners who know their limitations and have referral networks to take care of your health in ways they cannot.
Ask them about previous experience with conditions similar to your own. Although it is difficult to forecast response to treatments, ask about the signs and changes that the practitioner looks for to confirm that treatments are progressing well.
Inquire about what therapies will be used and why. Practitioners should be able to explain any procedure they perform.
What does the examination/consultation involve?
An exam/consultation includes what you tell the practitioner about your medical history and what your body says: The appearance of the face and body build, the shape and color of the tongue, the quality of the pulses, the feel of diagnostic areas such as the abdomen and back. An acupuncturist may test for weaknesses along the "meridians" and weaknesses in the muscles. Sometimes devices that measure electrical activity of acupoints may be used.
How long is the visit?
Usually the first visit is the longest in order to allow for a complete history taking and exam - typically an hour. Follow-up visits are shorter, usually 15 to 45 minutes, depending on practitioner and patient needs. Sometimes other therapies, such as moxabustion, acupressure/massage and exercises are incorporated with the acupuncture treatment.
Don't the needles hurt?
Most people who have had acupuncture would describe it as virtually painless or far less painful than plucking out a hair. The sensations that follow range from nothing at all, to mild tingling, to slight numbness/achiness, to electrical pulsations in areas distant from the site of insertion. All these sensations usually subside once the needles are removed. The needles used for acupuncture are much smaller that the standard hypodermic needle, do not draw blood and are solid, not hollow.
What is treatment like?
Most patients would say, "relaxing." Usually patients leave in less discomfort and are more functional than when they walked in. Sometimes the effects are too subtle to perceive, especially in the beginning of treatment. Yet after 5 to 10 treatments the improvements become more and more apparent.
Is it safe?
If performed by a qualified, conscientious practitioner, yes. Licensed Acupuncturists know the human anatomy well, and insert needles in a safe fashion. The instruments used to penetrate the skin are either pre-sterilized and disposable after a single use, or disinfected and sterilized in an autoclave, as surgical and dental instruments are, after each use.
The practitioner is well aware of the concern over infectious diseases, and takes every measure to insure cleanliness as all health care professional do.
Bleeding rarely occurs, unless done so on purpose in specific situations. Even then the amount is minimal and in no way dangerous.
What services can a practitioner of Oriental Medicine/Acupuncture provide?
Acupuncture, Acupressure/Massage, Therapeutic Exercises, Herbal Medicine, Diet therapy, Breathing Exercises, Referrals, Oriental Medical Diagnosis.