These are the commonly asked questions people have about acupuncture and Asian medicine.
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in Korean and China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery.
The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
I'M SCARED OF NEEDLES - CAN I STILL HAVE ACUPUNCTURE?
Yes. Certain styles use needles that do not break the skin or are inserted extremely lightly. Acupuncture needles are very much finer than the needles used for injections and blood tests. You may not even feel them penetrate the skin and once in place they are hardly noticeable. Usually you will just feel a sensation like a mosquito bite as the needle is inserted. Ninety-five percent of the time, patients feel no pain. However, with chronic illnesses and first-time patients, there may be a tingling or heat sensation as muscles relax and circulation and nerve function are restored.
WHO HAS ACUPUNCTURE?
Many people use acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or conditions. Others choose acupuncture as a preventive measure to strengthen their constitution or because they just feel generally unwell. Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies, children and the elderly. It can be very effective when integrated with conventional medicine.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The first Initial Evaluation is usually an hour. Time spend may vary depending on the complexity and nature of the condition. Subsequent acupuncture sessions are usually ½ hour in length. Initially Dr. Oh will ask about your complaint, such as how long you've had the problem, your current symptoms, your health history, your diet, your sleeping habits and bowel movements and other information that may seem irrelevant to you - just remember that Traditional/Alternative Medicine is an holistic medical system that recognizes the link between body, mind and emotions. Your physical ailment may well have an emotional component too. Generally, the needles are left in place for about 20 minutes, but painful conditions may need longer treatment time.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE A TREATMENT?
Try not to have a large meal within an hour of your appointment as the process of digestion will alter the pattern of your pulse, and you may need to lie on your stomach. You should also avoid alcohol and food or drink that colors your tongue such as coffee or strong tea. It is a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the acupuncture points, especially those on your lower limbs, are easily accessible.
IS ACUPUNCTURE COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Yes, today most insurance plans cover acupuncture and tui na which is a form of physical therapy. However all plans are different and verification of coverage may be confusing. Our office utilizes the resources of a professional biller. As a service to our patients we confirm your coverage for you at no extra cost.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?
Most people find acupuncture to be very relaxing. Patients often describe the needle sensation as a tingling or dull ache. This is one of the signs the body's qi, or vital energy, has been stimulated.
A common acupuncture benefit is that it's usually very relaxing - all you have to do is lie still and it's quite common for people to fall asleep during their treatment.
Tip: As you lie there (eyes closed) breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nose - as you exhale relax and "let go" of your ailment and imagine it leaving your body.
ARE THERE ANY UNPLEASANT SIDE EFFECTS?
Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects. Any that do occur are mild and self-correcting. Occasionally there may be minor bruising at the needle point or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles.
IS IT SAFE FOR BABIES, CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS?
Yes. Children and adolescents usually respond very well to acupuncture. Dr. Oh specializes in pediatric care.
CAN I TAKE HERBS?
Yes, most patients can take herbs. However, after a comprehensive consult Dr. Oh will discuss exactly what herbs are best for you and explain why.
CAN I TAKE HERBS WHILE PREGNANT?
Yes, most Asian Herbal Medicines will have no side effect on pregnant women. In fact many Asian Herbal Medicines can prevent morning sickness and miscarriage. However, there is a clear list of approximately 20 herbs which are contraindicated during pregnancy. All practitioners of Asian Herbal Medicines are well aware of these herbs and will not prescribe them during pregnancy.
SHOULD I TELL MY DOCTOR THAT I'M HAVING ACUPUNCTURE?
If you are currently receiving treatment from your doctor it is sensible to mention that you plan to have acupuncture. Dr. Oh will need to know about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
That depends on your individual condition. At first Dr. Oh will normally ask to see you once or twice a week. You may start to feel benefits after the first or second treatment although long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more time to improve. Once your health has stabilized you may need top-up treatments every few weeks. Traditional acupuncture is also very effective when used as preventive healthcare and many people like to go for a 'retuning' session at the change of each season throughout the year.