Acupuncture FAQ

Acupuncture FAQ




What is Acupuncture?

Long practiced in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves using needles to stimulate specific points on the body. These points are said to connect with certain pathways (or "meridians") that carry vital energy (or "chi") throughout the body.

According to the theory of acupuncture, blockages in the flow of chi disrupt well-being and lead to illness.
By stimulating acupuncture points, practitioners aim to clear up blockages and restore the client's health and vitality.

Acupuncturists insert thin needles into specifics point on the body. Traditional theory holds blockages along energy pathways in the body, called meridians, can cause pain. Acupuncture releases these blockages and improves the flow of energy along meridians.

A scientific explanation is that acupuncture may release natural pain-relieving chemicals into the body, promote circulation in body, and balance the nervous system.


Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is generally considered safe, and adverse events are rare. Additionally, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that "there are fewer adverse effects associated with acupuncture than with many standard drug treatments (such as anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections) used to manage painful musculoskeletal conditions."


What do I need to know for my initial visit?

Be sure to eat something light an hour or two before arriving - don't arrive on a completely empty stomach or having just eaten a large meal. Try to avoid the intake of caffeine or pain medications for at least several hours before you come.
Bring a list of any medications or supplements which you are currently taking.


What are the needles like?

Only sterile, disposable needles are used so there is no risk of infection. We use a needle once, then dispose of it.
Acupuncture needles are small and hair-thin. They are solid, not hollow like needles used by doctors. The end of an acupuncture needle is smooth and rounded. Acupuncture needles are not designed to cut the skin. Instead, when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissue aside without cutting it.
Acupuncture needles are so thin it's as if they can glide through the spaces between the individual cells of the body.


Does it hurt?

People experience needling differently. There are different styles of needling. I needle in Korean style which says to gentle insert the needle under the skin, and the qi will rise to the needle. Acupuncture needles I insert are rarely described as painful, and can be quickly adjusted if the patients does feel discomfort. If any sensation is experienced during insertion, it is often compared to a mosquito bite and disappears very quickly. Once the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated to obtain a mild "Qi" sensation. This is how an acupuncturist engages the energy in your body in order to help balance it. Often people describe their sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. I take great care to make my clients very comfortable so that they can relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Many people even fall asleep during treatment.
Following treatment it is common to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation and calm.


Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture works whether or not you think it will. Acupuncture is even used successfully on animals and children.
They do not understand or believe in the process yet they get better anyway. A positive attitude helps with any type of therapy but it is not necessary to believe in acupuncture (or to feel it working) for it to work. Since positive expectations and belief in a particular therapy help to increase therapeutic results, I encourage you to raise any concerns or doubts you may have about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I'd like to help you to better understand acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine so that you may have the most positive healing experience possible. You are invited to contact me today, and I will personally respond to any questions or comments promptly.


How quickly can I expect to feel better?

In general, I tell my patients they should start to feel the benefits from acupuncture in 2-3 treatments.
If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after 1 treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve.
If the problem is chronic and long term, it may take a many treatments to help resolve.


How often should I be treated?

Typically I treat patients once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, I may want to do treatments 2-3 times per week for the first couple of weeks. The benefits of acupuncture treatments tend to hold longer as you receive treatments, so what typically happens is that my patients start to need to see me less and less, so after a while they only come only periodically for maintenance.


Does acupuncture always help?

No, but it usually does. If you do not feel any benefit after 3-5 treatments, then acupuncture may not work for you.


Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Medical Services Plan of BC (MSP) funding for acupuncture treatment is available for people receiving premium assistance (family income below $28,000). MSP pays for a combined annual limit of 10 visits for acupuncture treatment, massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy and non-surgical podiatry. MSP covers $23.00 per visit and for your convenience, We bills MSP directly. You are charged for the balance of your treatment fees.

Extended health benefits vary from plan to plan and usually coverage for acupuncture therapy is between 70-100% of treatment fees. Some plans offer a dollar amount per year instead of a percentage. Please check your benefits booklet or contact your insurance provider in order to be clear on the details of your coverage.