Below you’ll find some of our frequently asked questions about acupuncture and what it treats.
Don’t see the answers you are looking for? Contact us with any questions and we’ll be glad to answer them!
Let me explain the question What is acupuncture…
Acupuncture is one of the pain-less methods used by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to treat patients holistically. [Fun Fact: The actual word itself is Latin for needle (acus) and puncture (punctura).] Its first use dates back to the second century BCE. But what is truly interesting is that the theory behind its application actually evolved from the ancient study and use of, what we now call, Chinese Herbal Medicine. When did the ancient Chinese start studying Chinese Herbal Medicine? – roughly five THOUSAND years ago! Simply amazing.
A typical treatment involves the insertion of very fine, sterile, single-time-use needles into designated pressure points on the body.
Curious what a needle looks like? Check out this picture I took and have included for you to see so you can understand what I mean when I say “very thin.”
Let me break down the picture for you: On the left is a black-eyed pea bean; Above the two acu-needles, the ones with the handles, and below the mechanical pencil is a sewing needle; Below the two acu-needles is a whisker that one of my poor little kitties lost during a brawl with his brother (also a kitty). As you can see, the acu-needles are just as thin, if not thinner!, than a cat whisker!!
Adult First-time Session: ~60-90 minutes
Adult Return Sessions: ~45-60 minutes
Pediatric First-time Session: ~30-60 minutes
Pediatric Return Sessions: ~30 minutes
Herbal Consultations: ~30 minutes
Unfortunately for most, a needle is a needle is a needle…so that means (if we think back through to our childhood shot experiences) that inserting a needle in the body will cause **gasp** PAIN!!
Myth #1 – Acu-needles WILL cause pain!
Myth #2 – Acu-needles have the intent to puncture…and therefore WILL cause pain!
Myth-buster #1 – Acu-needles have no intent in causing pain, especially since they are commonly used to in fact TREAT pain. That being said, sometimes it is hard to avoid microscopic nerves so you may experience a sensation along the lines of a “quick rubber band snap.”
Myth-buster #2 – Acu-needles have a rounded tip, NOT a beveled-designed-for-slicing tip (ie. hypodermic needles). So unlike those nasty, evil, scary needles doctors and nurses use to puncture our flesh and inject us with “healthy” serum, (Loveland) acupuncture needles do not need to inject anything into the body so instead of piercing, it “parts” the skin & muscle fibers. This is why for the most part, you do not bleed upon removal of said needle. Again I have to make a disclaimer – sometimes it is hard to avoid microscopic capillaries so at times you may bleed just a tiny droplet of blood.
Hmmmmm…How does acupuncture work?…
Acupuncture, in a nutshell, is perceived by the body as a “micro” trauma – a teeny, tiny exposure of your nicely sealed off inner elements to an external, unwanted foreign object. As a response to this foreign invasion, what your body does is send its defense team (first responders, EMTs perhaps?) to the scene(s) of the incident. Then, before you can blink an eye, all of body’s vital systems become involved, together they work to “fix” & attend to the problem at hand.
How about I parallel this idea to something more understandable; when you fall and scrape your knee, what happens? Well first you feel pain…that’s your body saying “Alert! Alert! Something happened and our clean, closed surface has been broken!” Your body then kicks into gear its repair action-plan and before you know it a scab has developed over the once exposed surface. Finally, after a brief period of time, your scab falls off to reveal a newly repaired, intact, once again closed surface. See, your body DOES know how to fix itself.
So back to “How does acupuncture work?”…
Now that you have an understanding that in essence it stimulates a response from your vital systems, I will explain to you (in another nutshell) how it works systemically to balance your whole body. Think of your body as one GIANT highway circuit with many stop-lights. Over time, some of those stop-lights have turned red, halting and congesting the flow of traffic…If the congestion persists for too long (and just like an actual traffic-jam), anger and irritation erupts – presents itself as a disease. The response acupuncture treatments produce is like that of turning all the red lights green and releasing the congested/stagnant traffic so that proper flow can be re-established (kind of like an acupuncture induced systemic cleanse).
Want a more physiological answer? How about this – Needling the pressure points sends a message to our hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain near the pituitary gland. Though its size is small, don’t let its size fool you because it is an extremely elaborate and very important part of our human brain. One of its most important functions is to link-up your nervous system with your endocrine system (with the help of its next door neighbor, your pituitary gland).
So what happens to the message?
The message, once received by your hypothalamus, gets internalized and translated into a response that is sent back out through your body’s autonomic nervous system – the very system that is responsible for fight or flight and rest & digest. This physiological feedback is how acupuncture is able to stimulate your body’s natural ability to heal.
A lot of information on “How does Acupuncture Work?” That’s only the beginning!, but to sum it all up I will say to you what I often say to my patients in my Loveland acupuncture practice; Our bodies are not faulty by design, so unless absolutely necessary (and I mean ABSOLUTELY), it doesn’t need to be “fixed” it simply needs to be reminded of what it should be doing…
“laziness will never lead to the pathway of health”
Intrigued individal:”What does Acupuncture treat?”
Myself: “Where should I even begin…”
Let’s start with the idea that this is where Traditional Chinese Medicine theory differs from the Western Medical frame of thought. In Western Medicine, you are treated for and as the disease you present. The theory behind Chinese Medicine however, teaches that your disease is only the physical manifestation of a deeper rooted issue within you – your disease is a product of your personal constitutional imbalance, not the other way around. That is why we as acupuncturist diagnose and treat you for your “imbalance” and not just your “disease.”
Addictions – Nicotine/smoke Cessation, Alcohol and Drugs
Chronic and Acute Pain – Injuries, Headaches, Neck and Back pain, Tendonitis, Sciatica, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Traumatic Injuries
Digestive Disorders – Irritable bowel, Constipation, Diarrhea, Gastritis, Heartburn, Food allergies, Ulcers
Eye and Ear Disorders – Tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, Blurred vision, Floaters, Dry/red eyes
Mental Health – Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia
Neurological Disorders – Post-stroke recover, Bell’s Palsy & Trigeminal Neuralgia, Movement Disorders
Upper Respiratory Disorders – Asthma, Allergies, Bronchitis, Sinusitis, Sore Throat, Laryngitis, Colds & Flu, Strep-throat
Urinary and Reproductive Disorders – Cystitis, Menstrual Cramps, Irregular or Heavy Periods, Infertility, Menopausal Symptoms, Uterine Fibroids
*** Keep in mind that if what you are experiencing is not mentioned in the lists above, it does not mean you should write off trying acupuncture. Like I stated earlier, we are trained to treat you for you, not just you for your disease.
Here is a list of issues people have reported success with [when asked “What does Acupuncture treat”] that is not included in the WHO & NIH lists:
Gastrointestinal: Nausea, Vomiting, Indigestion, Diarrhea, Constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Abdominal Bloating, Hemorrhoids
Gynecological: Endometriosis, Fibroids, Morning sickness, Plycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS or PCOD)
Immune disorders: Candida, Chronic fatigue, HIV and AIDS side effects, Allergies, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis
Pediatrics: Asthma, Cough, Common Cold or Flu, Digestive Problems, Behavioral Problems, Ear Infections, Sleep Problems
Preventative Health: Prevention, Stress Management, Well-being
Urogenital: Stress incontinence, Acute/chronic UTI, Kidney stones, Impotence, Sexual dysfunction
Well…what is commonly known is that acupuncture helps with pain pretty effectively; but in actuality, acupuncture can treat much more than just pain. Listed below are some current acupuncture research findings that you may find quite interesting…
Acupressure and Morning Sickness
A study was conducted to see if acupressure would be helpful in treating morning sickness for women in their first trimester. The results indicated that acupressure is very helpful in subduing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, with an added perk of no side effects.
C.T.C.P., Feb. 2008; 14 (1): 46-52.
Acupuncture has shown to have a 90.44% total effectiveness rate for treating insomnia. (Talk about a GREAT, Natural sleeping aid!!)
Sok, SR, et. al., The Effects of Acupuncture Therapy on Insomnia. J.A.N., Nov.2003; 44 (4): 375-84.
Fire Cupping and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fire cupping was given to a group of individuals suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At the end of a 6 week trial, all the patients showed increased energy, better sleep, improved memory and better digestion.
Flaws, B., et al., Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Cupping. 2001; 70-71.
Acupuncture and Labor Pain
In one study, women who received acupuncture was compared with their cohorts who received none. Results showed that the women who had acupuncture did not request for anesthesia (such as an epidurlal) nearly as much as expected, and as seen with their non-acupunctured cohorts. Those who received acupuncture also stated they felt very relaxed through-out the labor process. Add perk, (again) no adverse side effects or events occurred with the acupuncture treatments.
In addition, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported in 2004 that have reviewing several clinical trials of acupuncture and labor pains, their conclusion is that acupuncture can be helpful with reducing pain during childbirth.
Research shows that acupuncture can lessen migraine headaches far better than prescription meds. Individuals receiving traditional acupuncture treatments exhibited longer lasting results then those treated with mock-upuncture and Rizatriptan.
Acupuncture and Allergic Rhinitis (Allergies)
German researchers found that acupuncture improved the symptoms of patients suffering from allergic rhinitis. When they followed up with those patients 3-6 months later, they discovered that those who incorporated acupuncture in their health-care regime retained better results and health in general.
Euro. J.I.M., Nov. 2008,10 (5): 535-43.
Will acupuncture for insomnia help my sleep?
Insomnia in Latin means: “not” “sleep.” To us it means, and represents, when we are having difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. But did you know it can also represent a sleep that is non-restorative (un-restful)?
There are 4 Types of Insomnia:
Just like (ooh) so many of the other health issues we can experience, Western Medicine treats this one with…drum roll please…Prescription MEDS! Yup, and I’m sure you have seen two of the most common ones, Lunesta and Ambien. And unfortunately just like all other prescription drugs, you are given a laundry list of how these drugs might cause undesirable side effects. Such side effects can include:
On the flip side, acupuncture for insomnia is a relatively non-invasive approach that subdues your “over-stimulated” nervous system. By promoting the proper flow of qi and unblocking obstructions in your systems – you body is able to receive the oxygen-rich blood & vital energy it needs to function the way it should. A properly nourished system means a more relaxed you, and a more relaxed you means gaining optimal SLEEP.
What I typically tell my patients at my Loveland acupuncture practice is, how many treatments you may need depends on how long you have been experiencing your condition or chief complaint. So if you have had your chief complaint for years, then you might need more than just a few treatments (especially if you have never received acupuncture treatments before); on the other hand, if your chief complaint is only a few days old, then perhaps you will only need a couple of sessions. A good range to give yourself is anywhere between 5-10 “jump-start” treatments to get your body going and as your condition improves, your acupuncturist will start to ween you from one acupuncture session a week to every other week or even down to once a month.
Research has found that over 80% of individuals who follow the acupuncture treatment regime recommended to them by their practitioners experience optimal results with greater relief.
IMPORTANT: You want to keep in mind that acupuncture is also a helpful form of preventative medicine and health maintenance. Think of it as another kind of health insurance – it is much nicer to spend the time and money on a relaxing treatment that will sustain your health then to “tough it out” only to find yourself in the hospital or doctor’s office spending A LOT of your time and money. That being said, for my patients that really have no major complaints, I recommend that they come in at least once a season (four times a year) so that we can keep their healthy immune system up to par.
“Well how many acupuncture treatments do I need…because I want results quicker than weeks of acupuncture treatments!”
As a product of society, I cannot fault you for wanting “quick results.” Everything we see on tv, in the movies and in “fad”-gazines (aka magazines) brainwash us to think “I want that, and I want that NOW.” But don’t fall victim of this type of propaganda because in reality – slow and steady wins the race, so anything worth achieving in life will take time and effort. I know you have heard this before, but I believe it is worth repeating:
There is no such thing as an honest magic bullet or a quick-fix.
Stay dedicated to your life & health and your life & health will stay dedicated to you.
As medical costs skyrocket, having medical insurance can come in handy…
Whether your insurance cover acupuncture treatments or not, varies with each state. So your best bet is to contact your provider and ask what types of care they will cover for you. Here are some questions you can ask them when calling about acupuncture:
As an alternative to insurance coverage, you can also use your Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for acupuncture treatments.
I am currently in the process of applications so that I can accept insurances at my Loveland acupuncture clinic. In the mean time, if your insurance covers acupuncture, I will be more than happy to provide you with a Super-Bill for you to submit to your provider.
**As of February 2012, I am proud to announce that Loveland Acupuncture will be in-network with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Health Care insurances. If you are interested in seeking treatment and would like to see if your BCBS or UHC covers acupuncture, please fill out our insurance coverage form.
***Attention Federal Blue Cross Blue Shield members, under the Basic Plan, insurance will only cover acupuncture performed by a Medical Doctor. HOWEVER, since Northern Colorado [including Loveland, Fort Collins, Windsor, Greeley, Johnstown and surrounding towns] does NOT have a high volume of medical doctors that practice acupuncture, you as a member can ask for an “EXCEPTION” to be treated my a Licensed Practitioner of Acupuncture. As a FEDERAL BCBS member, please be sure to verify with BCBS and acquire an exception BEFORE you seek treatment with a Licensed Acupuncturist. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
ou can definitely use your HSA for acupuncture treatments. A HSA (health savings account) is a tax-advantaged health/medical savings account that some jobs may provide for you. Along with the monetary amount your job contributes, you can also make contributions to your account. Keep in mind that whatever you contribute to your account will not be subject to any federal income taxing when deposited. Your HSA will also “rolls over” from year to year – so you do not have to use it all in one year!
The funds in your HSA can be invested in the same way as IRAs. The earnings from the investment are guarded from taxation until you take the money out.
As the sole owner of your HSA, you do not have to obtain any type(s) of approval prior to a withdrawal. Most HSA programs provide multiple methods that enable you to withdraw from or use your account. Such methods include: a debit card, submission of a superbill and account checks.
Did you know that your Personal Injury Protection covers acupuncture treatments? Yes – not only does auto insurance policy pay for car’s auto accident expenses, but victims of a car accident also receive compensation for any health or medical bills as a result of an auto accident [PIP].
Most people do not even know that they have PIP coverage; let alone how easy it is to use it. What they also are not aware of is that it covers other services other then primary medicine as well! That’s right, you can use your PIP to see Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists & Massage Therapists as well. Keep in mind that the care you receive must be appropriate for the conditions you are suffering as a result of the auto accident.
Now that you are aware that your personal injury protection covers acupuncture, it is very important that you find out what type(s) of coverage your auto insurance policy has for you. It is also a good idea to find out how much money you have in that coverage.
Your “To Do List” after an auto accident:
**It is important to know that you do not need to wait for all the paperwork to go through to start your health/medical treatments. You can submit your bills after your PIP claim is all squared away. You and your health will be far better off if you receive treatment as soon as possible…because the longer you wait, the slower your recovery.
What you need to bring to your acupuncturist for your personal injury / car accident care:
Many skeptics answer the questions “Is acupuncture just a placebo?” with the argument that the effects of acupuncture are merely placebo. They theorize that since you believe an acupuncture treatment will help then it will make you feel better. BBC News would like to argue otherwise. In 2005, they released an article, titled: Acupuncture ‘more than a placebo’, touching on this very topic.
Now it’s my turn to ask a question:
How do you explain how acupuncture has helped animals?
Because unlike us, animals do not cognitively understand that acupuncture treatments will improve their health. Click here to watch a CBS News Video: Pets On Pins And Needles.
Feeling compelled now?! Feel free to contact me if you are interested or have more questions about Loveland Acupuncture.
What is qi and where did this idea of it come from?
Central to ancient Chinese theory is the thought that we have Qi (vital energy/innate force) that flows throughout our entire body. The ancient Chinese believed that Qi is the substance behind our ability to move and protect ourselves from diseases and pain. It was believed that an individual’s health was dependent on the balance, quantity and quality of their Qi.
When Qi moves throughout your body freely, you will reap the benefits of good mental, physical and emotional health. When your Qi is stuck (or “stagnant”) then parts of your body is no longer nourished with vital energy, thus dis-ease ensues.
Your body is just one Great Big highway that wants & needs to flow freely to maintain its harmony.
The study of acupuncture for migraine headache pain has confirmed that acupuncture can indeed provide you lasting pain relief for your chronic headaches and migraines.
Migraine headaches are a type of headache that is recurrent, paroxysmal and neurovascular. They can be joined with or without visual and gastrointestinal issues (ie. light sensitivity and nausea). The specific cause of migraines is still unknown but many medical professionals believe there is a strong genetic component involved.
Typically women are more predisposed to having migraines but that doesn’t mean you men are safe…
The pain experienced with migraines can either be generalized or hemilateral. If the pain is only on one side, it usually will only occur on that one side. If you leave your migraine attacks untreated, it can last from hours to days. Some people experience migraines daily, while other only get it about once a month. Women who experience migraine headaches typically have attacks in relation to their menstrual cycles: before, during or after menstruation and/or ovulation.
Causes of Migraine Headaches:
Western Medicine will typically treat migraines with medications/drugs. But like most drugs, there is a possibility of receiving negative side effects…even worse, if not dose properly, you can experience rebound headaches!
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine migraine treatments involve an evaluation of your whole body, as well as your fundamental “make-up.” Like most other pain patterns, migraine headaches are usually a result of a blockage in your body’s natural Qi flow. An acupuncturist’s goal is to identify that stagnation and address its root cause. With acupuncture not only will you receive relief, but you will also not experience any negative side effects. Even better??-Acupuncture can help to prevent future attacks. So ask yourself, “Why not use acupuncture for migraine headache pain??”
In short, what is a superbill? – it’s an itemized form that health practitioners fill out to prove the service(s) they provided. The completed form is given to the patients so that they (the patients) can submit it to their health insurance agency for reimbursement. This form is especially helpful for patients that have insurance coverage but their health practitioner is not on any insurance panels or an out-of-network provider.
** Make sure you contact your healthcare provider and:
** Superbills can also be used to receive reimbursement from your HSA.
Why accredited acupuncture schools? Here’s why…
It is important for acupuncture schools to be accredited for two major reasons:
An acupuncture school receive its accreditation through the accrediting agency called The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). The ACAOM was established in 1982 by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, as well as the American Association of Oriental Medicine.
The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges the ACAOM as a type of accrediting agency that is “specialized and professional.”
The ACAOM’s main goals are: