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Acupuncture Guidelines

Acupuncture is a wonderful complement to Western medicine, but it is not a substitute for it. If you think you have a serious, undiagnosed problem, you need to see a primary care physician. We cannot diagnose and treat something really serious (of unknown origin). We can provide complementary care for conditions that require a physician’s attention; for instance, we often treat patients for the side effects of chemotherapy but we need you to take responsibility for your own health.

Here are a few things we want you to do or be aware of:

  1. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to achieve from your acupuncture treatment. What are your expectations? What questions or concerns do you have about acupuncture? Jot down a few notes to bring with you to your first visit. The more openly we can communicate, the better we can help you.
  2. Be realistic. If you have several conditions or symptoms you would like to address, please rank them. On your first visit, we will ask you primarily about your chief complaint. Secondary issues will also be noted and addressed as treatment progresses.
  3. Start noticing how you feel each day and make a few notes. With respect to your chief complaint, try to answer these questions: When did this condition first appear? Is this a new condition or a recurring illness? What brought it on? What triggers it? Is your condition getting worse? To what degree does it interfere with your daily routine, work or sleep? What aggravates it? What provides relief? What time of day does it bother you the most? the least? Be as descriptive and specific as possible.
  4. Ask questions whenever you do not understand your treatment or clinical advice.
  5. Lastly, keep a positive attitude and EXPECT positive results. As we follow through on your treatment plan, look for signs of improvement and take encouragement from them. Build an attitude that expects positive results and know that profound healing is possible. Your belief and expectation has an incredibly strong influence on your body, and is a key factor in healing.

On the Day of Your Appointment
The following suggestions are provided to help you have a safe and relaxing experience with acupuncture. In order to reduce the risk of side effects, we require my clients to adhere to certain precautions. Please read this section carefully. If you have any questions, please contact us prior to your first treatment.

  • Eat a meal within 2 hours prior to your visit. Acupuncture is not performed on individuals who are fasting. Being overly hungry increases the risk of nausea or dizziness. At the same time, please do not overeat or eat any foods that cause your stomach to be upset (for example, rich, greasy, fried, or extremely spicy foods).
  • Avoid alcohol on the day of your treatment. Acupuncture is not performed on intoxicated individuals due to the increased risk of shock. It is also not advisable to become intoxicated shortly after treatment.
  • Avoid heavy exertion (including sexual activity) immediately before and after treatment (i.e., within 2 hours).
  • Set aside enough time so that you are not rushing to and from your visit. Please schedule your activities on the day of your visit accordingly. That includes no heavy exertion (i.e., kickboxing, sprinting, heavy lifting) for the rest of the day.
  • If possible, please wear loose comfortable clothing that can be rolled up to your elbows or knees. Acupuncture points are located all over the body. Many
    of the acupuncture points that are commonly used are located between the wrists and elbows and the ankles and knees. Gowns are available, however.
  • Please be on time. Be on time for your appointment so that you may benefit fully. When you make an appointment, please understand that time has been reserved for you. There will be a charge for missed appointments without 24 hours' notice.

What to Expect
Many new patients want to know what to expect during acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture points I choose will depend on your condition, but generally I use anywhere between 20-50 needles for each treatment. With the insertion of needles you may feel certain sensations, some of which may be pleasant and others uncomfortable. You may feel a dull ache, tingling sensation local to the needle or elsewhere in the body, a sensation of fullness, energy moving through the body, relaxation, or a sensation of tightness. That is all normal. But if you feel anything sharp that lasts longer than just a momentary poke, I can adjust it for you.

Once the needles are inserted, I will allow you to rest comfortably for 30-40 minutes with the needles in place. We will check on you after the first 10 minutes to be sure that you are doing well. Many people find acupuncture deeply relaxing, and it is not uncommon for patients to fall asleep during this time.

What to Expect After Treatment
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours or a few days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment, or relief may last from the first treatment until your  next visit. Individual response to treatment varies.

Side effects are infrequent, but may include the following: lightheadedness, dizziness, sleepiness, euphoria, nausea, slight bruising, residual muscle aches. Any of these side effects should only last a short time. Staying hydrated after your treatment will help to minimize these side effects, as will resting after your treatment. Any side effects should be reported at your next visit.

On rare occasions, one's original symptoms may briefly get worse, or "flare-up," after a treatment. A flare-up typically occurs later on the day of your treatment and should only last for a few hours. After a flare-up, your symptoms should begin to improve. In the long run, acupuncture typically does not make symptoms worse. In cases of chronic pain, your original pain may improve and then unmask less obvious pain in the surrounding areas. The pain will feel like it moved.

Dry needling? Please read:
#1: Dry Needling Myths
#2: Dry Needling Position Statement

Try acupuncture before opioids:
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