What is acupuncture and how does is work?
Based on the Chinese theory that illness results from an imbalance in energy in the body, acupuncture uses needles to stimulate your body's 14 major energy channels (called meridians). By restoring the balance, the applied pressure removes the cause for illness and brings you to a naturally healthy state.
Practitioners and beneficiaries of acupuncture also find it effective at decreasing pain by releasing endorphins (chemicals that block the pain) - much like massage releases knots. Practically speaking, the needles stimulate nerves to in turn stimulate associated muscles, which in turn tell your central nervous system to release endorphins.
What conditions are treated with acupuncture?
You should always consult with your doctor before using acupuncture for chronic or serious illnesses.
In general, acupuncture has been found effective for treating chronic pain, including headaches, lower back/neck pain, arthritis, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s palsy, muscle cramps, insomnia, and more. Acupuncture is also widely used for facial lifting and rejuvenation.
It is often used as a component in the treatment of obesity, as well as smoking and alcohol issues. Skilled practitioners can also use acupuncture to improve the functioning of your immune system.
What happens during acupuncture treatment?
Each acupoint is swabbed with alcohol to ensure fully sanitary application of the stainless steel needles. The needles are hair-thin and go just under the skin at very precisely targeted areas of your body. The actual number and depth of the needles’ placement varies by the specific needs of the acupuncture session.
The needles then stay on your body for up to an hour, warmed up to energize them. You may feel a tingling sensation. Though, usually, you’ll forget the needles are even there and could easily take a nap for the duration of the session.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Not really. You may feel a bit of pain during the insertion of the needle, depending how unbalanced your qi is. Still, it’s not nearly as sharp as the pain you feel from the usual doctor’s office needle, since acupuncture needles are very thin and are applied very carefully. Some people feel numbness or soreness after the needles are inserted. It really depends on you and your body’s condition at the time of the session.
Is acupuncture safe?
Absolutely. Acupuncture in Dr. Shmidt’s office is done with disposable needles and in absolutely clean, sterile conditions (hence the alcohol swab). Complications are rarely heard of with acupuncture.
What are the advantages of acupuncture?
Acupuncture’s huge advantage is that it is a completely drug-free way to minimize your pain. As you can imagine, drugs have side effects, sometimes worse than the condition they treat. Plus, people over time develop a tolerance for drugs, requiring an ever-higher dosage for the same effect. Acupuncture doesn’t have tolerance issues. Moreover, an acupuncturist can right away observe the effect of the session on you and make adjustments on the spot.
Does the medical establishment approve of acupuncture?
Yes, which is why most health insurance plans include it. In the United States, there are currently over 6,500 licensed acupuncturists. Additionally, over 3,000 doctors use acupuncture as one of the methods in their medical practice. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) considers acupuncture needles as medical devices and regulates them accordingly. Internationally, the WHO (World Health Organization) recognizes acupuncture treatment for over 40 medical issues, including AIDS, allergies, and more.
Will my health insurance policy cover acupuncture treatment?
There is a good chance that yes, it will. Check with your insurance company to know for sure, since each has provider has its own rules and restrictions.
How often should I be treated with acupuncture?
It all depends on your specific condition. Plus, different people have different responses. In general, don’t expect a single session to resolve your issue completely. Acupuncture is not shock therapy, it’s a natural way to bring your body into balance. That’s why it’s important to have a number of sessions in regular intervals over several weeks. When you come in for a consultation, Dr. Shmidt will let you know the plan for your specific condition.
Can I resume my daily activities following a treatment?
Acupuncture is very non-invasive. Just to be exceptionally cautious, it is recommended to have someone take you home after the first treatment. And the only reason to do so is that acupuncture is so calming, you shouldn’t drive after at least the first session. On that same note, the sense of calm and positive energy may prompt you to try to do too many things. Try not to do too much and instead take it easy for a day or two. Let your body find the balance and feel good. Lastly, you should definitely not stop taking your usual medications after acupuncture treatments - stopping or altering medication is a matter to be discussed with your prescribing physician.