FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Acupuncture is done with extremely thin, flexible needles made of silver alloy or stainless steel. You may experience brief discomfort as the needle pierces the skin, sometimes followed by minor soreness or a drawing sensation. As the energy changes, there may be numbness, heat, dull aching or tingling. More often than not, the experience is relatively painless.
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is a therapy developed more than 2000 years ago in Asia that consists of stimulating designated points on the skin by the insertion of needles in order to restore and balance the body's energy or "Qi" (pronounced "chi"). It is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also includes the application of heat (moxibustion), massage (finger pressure, as in shiatsu massage), dietary and exercise prescriptions (tai chi and qi gong), and herbal medicine.
IS IT SAFE?
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in China. It is still the treatment of choice for a quarter of the world's population despite years of comparison to western medicine. Here at Turning Point Acupuncture we use pre-sterilized, disposable needles and clean the area of the skin with alcohol before the needles are inserted. Side effects are rare and minor.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER THE FIRST TREATMENT?
Depending on the problem being treated and your prior condition, you may experience a wide range of sensations. Since the treatment goal is the restoration and balance of the body's Qi, some patients will experience a burst of energy while others may feel relaxed or even tired. Many people experience a sense of calm and well being. Occasionally a patient may feel euphoric or lightheaded, especially after the first treatment.
Small, localized bruises from minor bleeding under the skin are infrequent, but do happen. These are no cause for alarm, and despite the cosmetic inconvenience, they actually provide a kind of bonus treatment. The reabsorption of the blood continues the stimulation of the acupuncture point even without the presence of the needle.
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HOW LONG DOES TREATMENT TAKE?
The average treatment lasts about 20-30 minutes, but can go up to as long as 45 minutes, depending upon the problem being treated. Office visits can take up to an hour and a half for the initial visit, and an hour for follow-up visits. We encourage patients not to schedule so tightly that they are stressed out about the time during their appointment.
Some conditions are improved with one visit; other treatments will involve multiple visits. On average, with weekly treatment a condition should show some improvement within 8-12 visits. If you do not see any improvement during that time, it may be appropriate to re-evaluate with the doctor whether or not to continue in treatment.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE TREATED BY ACUPUNCTURE?
Many conditions can be treated. Among the most responsive are: musculo/skeletal problems such as sciatica, low back pain and arthritis; circulatory problems like high or low blood pressure, cold hands and feet; nervous system imbalances, especially anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness or depression; asthma, allergies and sinus problems; and digestive disorders including Crohn's Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea and constipation. In addition, we often treat headaches, vertigo, sports and stress injuries, skin problems, immune system disorders, fatigue, chronic pain and side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Acupuncture has been found to be especially useful for detoxification from addictive substances such as drugs, alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, heroin and cigarettes.
Acupuncture can also be a useful adjunct to any weight control program.
Click here for more about TCM and Western medicine for weight control.
Women's issues respond especially well to TCM: menstrual disorders such as PMS, irregular or heavy periods, cysts and fibroids, endometriosis, as well as the symptoms that accompany menopause. For more about menopause click here.
An area of special interest to the practitioners at Turning Point is the treatment of infertility.
See our Acupuncture and Fertility page for more information.
Here is a more comprehensive list of treatable conditions.
WHAT ABOUT HEALTHY PEOPLE?
Acupuncture can be helpful in the prevention of disease by improving the patient's state of well being through energy balance. In this way the stresses of everyday life are more easily handled, and minor health issues can be resolved before they become more deeply rooted problems.
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HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
No one really knows exactly how acupuncture works, only that it does work. Its theoretical basis, according to the Chinese, is that everyone is born with a fixed amount of energy (Qi) at birth. This energy is spent in the work of living and replenished in part by food and air. The Qi flows throughout the body in certain expected patterns along invisible pathways referred to as "meridians". Chinese medicine is based on the discovery that certain areas ("acupoints") on the skin are related to internal body organs and specific bodily functions. Groups of points relating to the same organ function are found along the same meridian.
In the healthy person, energy flows through the meridians freely and in abundance, resulting in a state of balance and well being. However, when this state of balance is interrupted by conditions such as stress, injury, emotional trauma or infection, the free flow of energy is interrupted, resulting in an energy deficiency, an imbalance of body energy (e.g., yin to yang) or blockages of energy along the meridians. It is thought that these patterns of disharmony in the body's energy are at the root of illness. By locating the skin points along the meridians that relate to a certain condition, the acupuncturist can address blockages, imbalances or deficiencies in that energy meridian and insert needles at those locations. The insertion of the needles serves to unblock and stimulate energy in the meridians and allow the Qi to flow freely and sufficiently once again.
In a person whose system has become out of balance, the process of regulating the Qi is a gradual one. The treatments tend to build upon one another in a cumulative fashion, and the process may include times of progress as well as temporary setbacks. This is all a normal part of the healing cycle, as the body relearns how to function in and maintain a balanced state of energy. The time it takes to restore balance and alleviate a person's symptoms may relate to a number of factors, including how long the symptoms have been present, other underlying health problems that complicate the treatment picture, as well as a person's age.
If you have questions relating to your specific condition, you may contact the office before making an appointment.
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HOW DOES CHINESE MEDICINE DIFFER FROM WESTERN MEDICINE?
Chinese Medicine concentrates on the normalization of the body's Qi. Therefore, the therapeutic focus is on "wellness". It is traditionally applied to keep the individual healthy. If there are changes of body energy which adversely affect a person's health, the treatment consists of correcting underlying imbalances in this body energy. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to address the underlying energy imbalance that results in the symptoms. A wide variety of symptoms can be addressed by this energy restoration. In contrast, Western Medicine is focused on the diagnoses and treatment of disease. Traditionally Western medicine has had little interest in preventive health issues (a situation finally changing now). Western Medicine focuses on the diagnosis of the disease causing a patient's physical complaint and the alleviation the symptoms of the disease. Treatment, usually the prescribing of medication or some type of surgical procedure, and is specific to only one problem.
CAN WESTERN AND CHINESE MEDICINE BE COMBINED?
Yes. Modern medical wisdom seems to suggest that we combine what is useful from each source. Indeed, this is the case in China today. In medical schools in China the students learn 60% Chinese and 40% Western medicine and can apply both after training. Because Chinese medicine addresses the underlying cause of a condition rather than just the symptoms, it is often helpful to treat conditions generally unresponsive to western drug-oriented treatment. Examples include PMS, headache, vertigo, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, etc. Conversely, some conditions, most notably bacterial infections and conditions with structural changes, e.g., fractures or tumors, respond more rapidly to Western techniques. Very frequently the two methodologies can be combined to the patient's greater benefit. Here are some examples: In the treatment of high blood pressure, acupuncture and herbs, along with dietary salt-restriction, can decrease the amount of anti-hypertensive medication required for blood pressure control. This approach also works for respiratory conditions like asthma in which the Chinese medicine allows the patient to decrease dependence on steroidal inhalers. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are used successfully to offset some of the side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, fatigue and a weakened immune system, during the treatment of cancer or AIDS. An exciting area of treatment for us at Turning Point is infertility. In this instance we can use Chinese medicine alone, or in combination with fertility promoting medications, as indicated by the patient's age, medical history, etc.
In summary, a pragmatic, broad-based approach that acknowledges the strength of each kind of medicine, such as we practice at Turning Point, allows for the choice of the best treatment options for each individual patient.
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