FAQ

FAQ: General Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice based on the belief that pain, dysfunction, illness and other ailments result from imbalances in the body.  Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points that are effective in the treatment of specific health problems.  Treatments aim to harmonize and regulate the body’s imbalances with the goal of treating underlying patterns to relieve symptoms and promote overall wellbeing.

Chinese doctors mapped acupuncture points over thousands of years, often by trial and error, and there are more than 1,000 known acupoints. In the past three decades, electromagnetic research has confirmed the existence and location of many of these points.

Acupuncture has evolved over time, as well, and is not confined to the practices developed millennia ago.  Over the past several decades, modern practitioners all over the world have built on ancient practices and developed new approaches and techniques.  Today, practitioners tend to have their own styles and preferences for treatment methods, and acupuncture can include not only the use of “traditional” points and techniques but also the insertion of needles into muscles (e.g. trigger points) and other points based on more of a Western physiological model.

While acupuncture’s exact mechanisms of action are still not yet fully understood, research is continually providing more insight into ways in which acupuncture works.  Specifically, acupuncture has been shown to:

  • Increase blood circulation to injured tissues, which promotes faster recovery
  • Release trigger points to ease the cascade of symptoms caused by tight and stuck fascia
  • Stimulate motor points, which can help with muscle dysfunction and muscular imbalances
  • Trigger the release of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers
  • Decrease sympathetic nervous system activity and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to allow you to rest, digest and repair more effectively
  • Reduce both local and systemic inflammation
  • Decrease fatigue and increase resistance to fatigue
  • Treat insomnia, both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep
  • Reduce stress and anxiety, possibly by blocking the chronic stress-related release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters

For links to some interesting research, click here or click on the “Resources” tab at the top of the page.

Acupuncture is based on the Chinese theory of qi.  Qi is the energy or essential substance that promotes all of the functions of the body.  According to the qi theory, acupuncture adjusts and regulates the flow of qi in the body by removing blockages, draining areas of excess Qi and nourishing areas of insufficient qi.  In doing so, acupuncture restores balance to the body’s physical and mental aspects.

Chinese Medicine has a saying: “If there is pain, there is no free flow; if there is free flow, there is no pain.”  Acupuncture reestablishes and promotes the free flow of qi to not only relieve symptoms but also promote general health and wellbeing.

For information on how acupuncture can treat sports-related conditions.

In general, the longer you have had the dysfunction, the more treatments you will need.  For an acute condition, a single treatment might provide great results, while a series of 10 to 12 treatments may be needed for more chronic problems.  Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time.  Different ailments and different bodies heal at different rates, but patients often leave each treatment feeling at least somewhat better and more relaxed.

To help reduce the number of treatments and speed healing and recovery, I might suggest corrective exercises, dietary modifications, relaxation techniques, massage and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which complement the acupuncture treatments.  When appropriate, I will also refer you to other medical professions, such as physical therapists, chiropractors, general practitioners, or specialists.

No. Sometimes I use cups, magnets, lancets, moxibustion, Tui Na (Chinese bodywork) or other Oriental Medicine techniques.  Here is a link to brief descriptions of the various adjunctive techniques.  Before performing any of these types of treatments, I will discuss the technique with you and answer any questions you have. I will never do anything without your prior consent.

No.  While some states permit acupuncturists to perform injection therapy, Arizona does not, and I rely on the ability of acupuncture points themselves to cause changes in the body.

In short, yes, I do dry needling.  Dry needling aims to release muscular trigger points using a needle.  This is a type of acupuncture technique, and one of many that I use regularly.  Dry needling can be very effective for certain situations, and I will use it if appropriate.  I will usually use dry needling in conjunction with other types of needling and systemic treatments.

Also, it is important to note that a licensed acupuncturist receives over 2,000 hours of training, while most basic dry needling certification courses consist of 20-50 hours of training.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine focus on putting the body back into balance, not just on temporary solutions or on treating symptoms. It may take time for chronic issues to resolve, and, particularly at first, the problem might come back, but the goal is complete resolution.  However, I can never guarantee that a condition will not recur, and sometimes corrective exercises or other lifestyle modifications are necessary to prevent relapse.

Definitely.  In addition to my sports medicine training and experience, I have extensive experience treating patients for a myriad of internal and external conditions. Some of these aliments include, but are not limited to: pain management, gastro-intestinal dysfunctions, stress/anxiety, allergies, and migraines.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions about what ails you.

FAQ: What to Expect on Your First Visit

I will ask you a series of questions to determine your health history and Chinese medical diagnosis. I will also look at your tongue and feel your pulse, both of which help guide my diagnosis and thus treatment.  When appropriate, I will do orthopedic tests, palpation, or other diagnostic techniques.  I will then formulate a treatment plan based on your diagnosis, and I will insert the needles. I will leave in the needles for about 12-30 minutes and then remove them.  I might do needle treatments on both the front and back sides of your body.  Finally, when needed, I will also use other techniques, such as myofascial release, cupping or moxibustion.

I will always explain these techniques and why I think they will help and seek your approval before doing them for the first time.  The first appointment is 90 minutes, instead of one hour, because I like to do a thorough health history and get to know you a bit before making a diagnosis and longer-term treatment plan.  We can schedule subsequent visits based on the proposed treatment plan and your desires.

Most of the time, it does not hurt.  Often when people think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles, which are used to draw blood or inject medicine into the body. Hypodermic needles are designed for these purposes and thus are large in diameter with a serrated tip that can penetrate the skin and muscles.

Acupuncture needles, however, are very thin and flexible.  In fact, several acupuncture needles, which are not much thicker then a strand of hair, can fit in the tip of one hypodermic needle.

In many cases, a patient will not feel the needle at all.  At times, a patient might feel slight discomfort (a prick or pinch) upon insertion, but the sensation will subside within a few seconds.  You might feel a dull ache once the needle is inserted, but the sensation should not be uncomfortable.  If you ever feel a sensation you do not like, let me know and I will make necessary adjustments.  The most important thing is to communicate with the acupuncturist, so she knows what you are experiencing and can react appropriately.

Certain sports acupuncture techniques involve deeper insertion into tight muscles or bound-up fascia.  These techniques might require manipulation of the needle to try to release Trigger Points or other tense tissues in the body.  In this case, the sensation might be stronger and cause a muscle twitch or a feeling of spreading as the tissues release.  The patient and acupuncturist will communicate constantly to ensure that the patient is comfortable.  The acupuncturist will never perform a technique that the patient does not want or finds too uncomfortable.

Overall, acupuncture is a healing practice and should not cause pain.  Most patients find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatments and leave the treatments feeling refreshed and calm.

Not necessarily.  You may need to expose the area being treated, which might include the back or chest.  I have gowns, towels and sheets available to cover you and help you feel comfortable.  I always work to ensure that patients feel respected and modest.  If you are uncomfortable exposing the area being treated I can often treat distal points on the arms and legs that also help with the specific issue and do not require exposure of sensitive areas.

Most of the time the needles stay in for 12-30 minutes, sometimes slightly less, sometimes slightly more, depending on the specific situation.

The number of needles depends on the patient’s specific situation. Most of the time, we use fewer than 15 needles for a single set of acupuncture, although in some cases we may use as few as 4 and as many as 30 needles.

Sometimes a few drops of blood will come out when a needle is removed. This is usually a good thing and means that stagnation is leaving the channel. Sometimes a few drops of blood are intentionally released from the channels to relieve pain, fever, sore throat, etc.

I hope that you will feel at least some relief after each treatment.  Patients often feel relaxed and calm.  Sometimes, you might feel a bit lightheaded or “out of it.” It is important to stay hydrated after treatments.

At least for the first few treatments, you might want to try to schedule them at a time when you can relax for a few hours afterwards or at least not have to do anything too strenuous, either mentally or physically.  It is always beneficial to allow yourself to rest after a treatment.  However, I know that most people have very busy schedules and cannot always find several “free” hours during a day, so you can always let me know that you have to go straight back to work or do some sort of physical activity and I can adjust the treatment accordingly.

I will contact you after the first few treatments to find out how you are feeling and answer any questions you have.  Of course, you can always call or email me if you have any questions.

It is important to eat at least a small meal before a treatment to help with possible lightheadedness after a treatment.  If possible, dress in comfortable, loose clothing so I can more easily access different acupuncture points and so that you will be comfortable while lying on the table.  I also have gowns available should you want to change out of your clothing.

If possible, try to arrive several minutes early so you can rest a bit before the treatment and so diagnosis, which involves pulse taking, will be more accurate.

Finally, you can bring any relevant medical records, lab results, charts, etc. that you would like to share.  For instance, if you are seeking treatment for an injury, you can bring your doctor’s assessment of and treatment plan for the injury.

FAQ: Sports Acupuncture

Sports medicine acupuncture combines principles and practices of traditional Chinese Medicine with Western-based notions of sports medicine, including orthopedics, physiology, Trigger Points, and motor points.  Bui on millennia of lessons about acupuncture points and treatments for specific conditions, sports medicine acupuncture incorporates more modern knowledge of the human body and dysfunctions that athletes commonly face.

Each sports medicine treatment is tailored to the individual, both in terms of the specific medical condition and the person’s needs and desires.  If someone has a race soon after an appointment, the treatment will likely be different than if someone is in the middle of a training cycle.  Because of the wide variety of techniques and modalities available to use, we can choose an appropriate treatment for each unique situation.

Click here for more information on sports medicine acupuncture.

It is worth noting that acupuncture has been used for millennia to treat Soldiers, martial artists and other types of people involved in extreme types of physical activity.  Acupuncture is a broad term that denotes a general system of medicine aimed at a wide variety of ailments, including those that plague athletes.

While acupuncture’s exact mechanisms of action are still not yet fully understood, research is continually providing more insight into possible ways in which acupuncture works.  Several of these findings are particularly relevant to athletes.  Specifically, acupuncture has been shown to:

  • Increase blood circulation to injured tissues, which promotes faster recovery
  • Release trigger points to ease the cascade of symptoms caused by tight and stuck fascia
  • Stimulate motor points, which can help with muscle dysfunction and muscular imbalances
  • Trigger the release of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers
  • Decrease sympathetic nervous system activity and balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to allow you to rest, digest and repair more effectively
  • Reduce both local and systemic inflammation
  • Decrease fatigue and increase resistance to fatigue
  • Treat insomnia, both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep
  • Reduce stress and anxiety, possibly by blocking the chronic stress-related release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters

Some of the many sports-related conditions acupuncture can treat include:

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Ilio-Tibial Band Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • TIbial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
  • Hamstring Strains
  • Low Back Pain
  • SI Joint Dysfunction
  • Glute medius/minimus dysfunction
  • A/C Joint Dysfunction
  • Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Fatigue/Low Energy
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Post-surgery recovery

For conditions that do not involve soft tissue or that involve severe tears and strains (e.g. meniscus tears, ACL/MCL tears, severe ligament and tendon strains), acupuncture may help with symptoms and overall strength for recovery.  However, acupuncture cannot heal bone, cartilage or other inert tissue injuries or severe tears and strains.  In these cases, we recommend concurrent treatment by a Western medicine specialist.  We are happy to coordinate treatment with your doctor when appropriate.

FAQ: Billing

I do not currently accept insurance, although I hope to in the near future. Payment is due at time of service, but I can provide you with a superbill that you can submit directly to your insurance company, but I cannot guarantee that you will be reimbursed.

If you have insurance you would like to use, let me know what plan you have and I will contact you if and when I am able to accept that plan and bill them directly.

Yes, you can pay with major credit cards, cash or check.  We also accept Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).

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