What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient medicine that originated in China over two thousand years ago. Some sources say that its history dates back over four thousand years. Over the years the practice of acupuncture has evolved to the modern form that is practiced today in China and all over the world. Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile, single use stainless steel needles. The needles are solid, with an extremely fine tip that makes the insertion process almost sensation free. Many people do not even feel when the needles are inserted. By inserting acupuncture needles in the body the energetic balance of the body can be restored. Needles are inserted along acupuncture channels along the body. Points are selected based on each individual patients constitution as well as presenting pathology or injury. There are many different styles of acupuncture and methods of needling. Depending upon your condition the needles are retained for up to 30 minutes. While the needles are retained most people fall asleep, and find the process extremely relaxing. Once the needles are removed, if necessary a therapeutic massage (tuina) is done to further enhance the effects of the treatment.
Does acupuncture hurt?
For most people this is their primary concern when first getting acupuncture, which is completely understandable since most people’s experience with needles comes from having injections or vaccinations. Unlike injections or vaccinations from a doctor, acupuncture needles are solid and very thin, and virtually painless when inserted. Once inserted the needle is brought to the appropriate depth. You may feel a heavy sensation or tingling. Some people do not feel anything at all. This depends completely on the individual. This is part of the therapeutic process, and is expected. If you experience any discomfort simply let your practitioner know and the needle can be adjusted or removed.
Things to do for your first treatment
Please plan to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the start of your appointment to be sure that you have completed all of the necessary intake information. During the initial visit Sam will review your HHQ and come up with an treatment plan based upon the findings of the assessment specific to you. It is best to come to an appointment having consumed a light meal a couple hours prior to your arrival. If you have a diagnosis from your MD please feel free to bring any imaging or treatment notes to your appointment, so that we can provide you with the most through care possible.
It is best to wear shorts or loose clothing so that the arms and legs below the elbows and knees, are accessible. It is best to avoid heavy meals, strenuous physical exertion, alcohol or smoking prior to your appointment. This will allow the body to adjust to the effects of the acupuncture.
The initial evaluation and treatment takes 1 hr. Follow up treatments are 45min to 60min.
How often do I have to come?
Most patients come weekly, ideally two or three times a week for the first two weeks, twice a week for a month or so, and once a week after that. Once the initial course of treatments (of 5-10 treatments) has been done and you are symptom-free, the follow-up treatments are done less frequently, as needed. This is only a guideline, and your treatment protocol will be decided when you are initially evaluated. Problems that have been around for a long time usually take more treatments to resolve than ones that have come about recently. As your treatments progress the treatment plan is reevaluated and modified if necessary depending on the results obtained. We understand that this is a significant time and financial commitment for some people, however in order to best address your main concern and prevent relapses this is the recommended course of treatment.
What should I wear?
For your initial assessment and treatment it is best to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. Be sure that your clothing allows access to the legs from the feet to the knees and arms from the hands to the elbows.
Some people are skeptical when they hear claims about what acupuncture can do. Often times when something sounds too good to be true it is. What’s the catch with acupuncture, people often wonder. Does it even work? It does work, and the catch is for most people, needles. What many people do not realize is that acupuncture needles are completely different from the hypodermic needles that most people are accustomed to from having vaccinations or blood drawn. Acupuncture needles are sterile, single use, filiform needles, meaning they are solid rather than hollow like a hypodermic needle, and have a sharp point rather than an cutting edge like a hypodermic needle. What this means for you as a patient is minimal or no pain. Most people do not even feel the needle being inserted, when you do feel the needle it is about as strong a sensation as getting pricked by a pine needle. The needles come in a variety of gauges, and are so fine that they bend easily with light pressure from your fingers.
How does acupuncture work?
Read our Insights here for more information.
What can acupuncture treat?
According to the World Health Organization in a 2003 study Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials The following lists “diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment”:
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
- Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
- Biliary colic
- Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
- Dysentery, acute bacillary
- Dysmenorrhoea, primary
- Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
- Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
- Hypertension, essential
- Hypotension, primary
- Induction of labour
- Knee pain
- Low back pain
- Malposition of fetus, correction of
- Morning sickness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain
- Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
- Periarthritis of shoulder
- Postoperative pain
- Renal colic
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tennis elbow
Acupuncture training and certifications
Not all acupuncturists are equally trained. In order to be a “Licensed Acupuncturist, (LAc.)” an acupuncturist must complete a minimum of three years to earn a Masters degree. A Licensed Acupuncturist in New York State must have a minimum of 4050 hours of masters level training with at least 650 hours of clinical training and a minimum of 250 patient treatments before graduation. Licensed acupuncturists are required to pass the national certification examination in acupuncture and complete regular continuing education to maintain national certification. Additional Board Certification can be obtained by sitting the board examinations, and certified candidates are designated by the “Diplomate of Acupuncture, (Dipl. Ac.)” in their credentials. Not all acupuncturists are board certified, as it is an optional additional examination that is not required by all states.
A Physician or Dentist can become a Certified Acupuncturist with 300 hours of training which is often comprised of home study and video-taped lectures. They have minimal clinical experience in acupuncture and often no actual patient treatments before certification. They are not required to complete the national certification exam to prove competency in acupuncture, and they are not required to complete continuing education classes.
What are the side effects of acupuncture?
While most people experience no side effects with acupuncture, a few people will experience some side effects. The most common side effect is fatigue. Acupuncture is deeply relaxing, and some people feel tired as a side effect. A small bruise (about the size of a dime) may occur at the site of needling. These are only cosmetic and resolve in a couple of days. With strong needle stimulation some people feel dizzy or nauseated, which subsides once the needles are removed. This does not mean that you cannot tolerate acupuncture, it simply means that you are more sensitive and need less aggressive approach. Occasionally with orthopedic needling you may experience an increase in muscle soreness after a treatment. This typically subsides in 24-48 hours and is a result of releasing musculature that was chronically tight. This is part of the therapeutic process and does not mean that you are getting worse. Once the soreness subsides patients usually notice an improvement in symptoms.
What makes High Peak Acupuncture different from other acupuncturists?
Sam elected to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus on women’s health and pain management. This advanced degree is not necessary in order to be licensed to practice, but she felt it was an important part of her professional development. This additional four years of education has deepened her understanding of clinical practice, specifically her doctoral capstone is focused on managing perinatal mental health issues such as Post Partum Depression utilizing acupuncture as a non pharmacological therapy for breast feeding mothers. The management of gynecological issues such as endometriosis, PMS, painful periods, hot flashes with menopause, and fertility are all areas of specialty at High Peak Acupuncture. To learn more about High Peak Acupuncture click here.
What need did you see that you felt that you could fulfill better than anyone else?
“Acupuncture as any form of medicine is an art. To practice well there is a balance between compassion for one’s patient and an analytical perspective to determine where the patient’s disease originates. From my years as a professional ski patroller, I have developed the ability to engage with my patients immediately in a way that puts them at ease, and allows me to gain insight into their very personal conditions quickly. I also have a very intuitive, yet analytical mind that can formulate a plan of treatment that best suits your needs.”
See what the NY Times has to say about acupuncture here.