Acupuncture Can Change Everything
FAQ

Questions & Answers: The Acupuncture Newbie Guide

Want to know more about acupuncture?  Check out our “Frequently Asked Questions” below where we answer a lot of the questions patients have asked over the years.

Many of the questions and answers here are taken from the book, ‘Why Did You Put That Needle There?’ by Andy Wegman of Manchester Acupuncture Studio. Andy has graciously given us permission to share some of its content.

Listen to Andy read excerpts of his book here on his clinic’s site. Why Did You Put That Needle There?’ is available to purchase here and in the SHCA reception area to read while you wait. It is a great primer for people who are new to acupuncture.

More thanks for this FAQ goes to Jessica Feltz of The Turning Point. Jessica is a POCA member and helped create this FAQ.

What is acupuncture?
Why would I want to get acupuncture?
Do I have to believe in this for it to work?
Do acupuncturists have to hold to some religious beliefs I don’t know about?
Do the needles hurt?
Will I have to come get acupuncture forever to keep feeling good?
Do you sterilize needles?
Why do I feel sleepy once the needles are in?
What are you injecting through the needles to make this work?
So…how does all this work?
What is Community Acupuncture?
Am I missing out on good acupuncture points while in Community Acupuncture?
How can you afford to charge so little?
Can I just walk-in, or do I need an appointment?
Can you take the place of my physician?
What else do I need to know about my first treatment?
Do I have to take my clothes off for treatment?
Can I address more than one health issue at a time with acupuncture?
Do you treat pregnant women?
My mother/sister/father/neighbor/friend REALLY NEEDS acupuncture, but doesn’t want to try it! I’m going to drag him/her/them in anyway! Don’t you think that’s a great idea?
How do I decide how much to pay, and does how much I pay affect the treatment I get?
Can I combine acupuncture with massage/chiropractic/osteopathic treatment/medication /exercise/etc?
Should I drink a lot of water after my treatment?
Can I have a few beers before my treatment?

ANSWERS:

What is acupuncture?

Let’s first define the terms. ‘Acupuncture’ comes from the Latin ‘acus’ (point) and ‘punctura’ (to prick)

From Webster’s online dictionary:

Main Entry: acu·punc·ture
Pronunciation: ak-yoo-puhngk-cher
Function: noun
Date: 1684
“An originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease or relieve pain.”

This seems as good a quick definition as any. We’ll offer up another with a little more detail:

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most common and dependable medical therapies used in the world. It is by nature simple, safe and effective health care. Acupuncture practitioners use thin, sterile disposable needles inserted superficially into specific areas of the body in order to help the body’s ability to heal itself.

Over the three decades or so in which acupuncture has gained popularity in the United States, it has been proven by an increasing body of scientific evidence to be not only exceptionally safe, but statistically effective as well.

[Return to Top]

Why would I want to get acupuncture?

People get acupuncture for many different reasons. For our purposes, we’ll offer two main answers to this question.

A) Here is a list of conditions the World Health Organization has deemed appropriate for treatment with acupuncture. (skip down to page 23 of this 1979 report)

B) In addition, we’ll offer up a list of ‘no-brainer’ conditions – that is, situations that should absolutely be treated with acupuncture without hesitation:

Athletic sprain/strain, acute back and/or neck strain, temporal mandibular disorder (TMJ), Bell’s palsy, headaches (including migraines), palpitations, early stages of cold/flu, asthma, tendinitis, arthritis, insomnia (poor sleep), Raynaud’s, anxiety, high levels of stress, addictions, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, hemorrhoids, many gynecological issues (including PMS), herpes zoster (shingles) and pre-/post-surgery for accelerated healing.

[Return to Top]

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

Absolutely not. You only have to believe enough to show up a few times in order to give yourself the chance to see positive changes.

[Return to Top]

Do acupuncturists have to hold to some religious beliefs I don’t know about?

No. Acupuncturists come from as many varied traditions of faith as your local banker, car mechanic or hair dresser. Acupuncture is born of philosophical traditions, not religious. It is given and received many thousands of times every day by Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and atheists among others.

[Return to Top]

Do the needles hurt?

Not really much at all. However, getting an acupuncture treatment isn’t always painless. More than anything a treatment should be a deeply relaxing and sleepy slice of time for you.

Here’s what we’d like our patients to know: You may feel a bit of a pinch when the needles are tapped in, but this should ease right away. If you continue to feel a pinching or a burning sensation at the needle site any longer than this, let us know. It means we haven’t placed that needle real well. If on the other hand you are feeling a slight ache or heavy feeling near the needle, this is usually a good sign – a clue that the body is reacting in a productive way.

The bottom line is that as long as the feelings around the needled areas don’t keep you from closing your eyes and napping for a little while, we say let them be.

[Return to Top]

Will I have to come get acupuncture forever to keep feeling good?

Likely not, but this also depends on the reason(s) you’re getting treated in the first place.

For short-term issues, a handful of acupuncture treatments should do the job. For chronic or long-standing issues, a maintenance schedule of some sort would be in order to keep systems running smoothly and steadily after the initial period of relief and change.

For example, patient Melissa comes in for help with pain and swelling from a new ankle sprain less than 24 hours old. This type of injury responds best with acupuncture treatments two out of three days, which would probably be plenty to help Melissa’s body sort out her injury completely.

On the other hand, David gets acupuncture treatments to work toward better management of long-term anxiety and insomnia that he’s struggled with for five years. Chances are good he’ll start to see clear changes in the pattern and intensity of his symptoms with steady treatments over four weeks or so. After this time, his acupuncturist will likely recommend regular but less frequent treatments for another stretch of time to help make sure the process of change continues moving forward. Once David finds himself in a place where he’s consistently happy with his sleep and anxiety levels, we’ll know it’s time to dial back the frequency of his treatments even further. The aim here is to provide as few acupuncture treatments as possible while maintaining gains made.

[Return to Top]

Do you sterilize needles?

When people ask this, we think there may be an assumption that we are re-using needles. This is not the case at all. For the last 15-20 years, acupuncturists have used one-time use, sterilized, disposable needles as the industry standard. So there is no re-using of needles even from one part of the body to another.

Sterile package opened, needle in, needle out and put into a bio-hazard box to dispose of responsibly and that’s it.

[Return to Top]

Why do I feel sleepy once the needles are in?

To be honest, we’re not sure. There have been many attempts at explaining why this happens and why acupuncture works in general. Our sense is, the presence of the needles causes our central nervous system to move into a clear pattern of rest (parasympathetic), allowing for our quickest healing and recovery to take place. Not unlike when we sleep at night.

This may explain why acupuncture is so effective at helping people overcome the many troubles associated with high stress levels – a state we can find ourselves in which is characterized by our nervous systems staying in a “fight or flight mode’ (sympathetic) for extended periods of time.

Remaining in this state for long periods of time can keep us from recovering in an ideal way, leading to nagging injuries, sleeplessness or illness.

We can tell you, helping people get into a sleepy state is one of the most predictable and best effects acupuncture has to offer.

[Return to Top]

What are you injecting through the needles to make this work?

Nothing. And we couldn’t if we tried. Needles that acupuncturists use are a filiform type, which means they are solid, not hollow like the type of needles ‘shots’ are given through (hypodermic syringe).

In fact, a standard-sized hypodermic syringe can hold about a dozen average-sized acupuncture needles inside of it.

[Return to Top]

So…how does all this work?

This is really the million-dollar question. The easiest answer we can offer, in bio-medical terms, is that no one has a definitive explanation. There have been many attempts to nail down The One Reason acupuncture works, but to our knowledge no one has got it – yet.

In all likelihood there isn’t one factor, but that many reactions going on at once involving different systems – including the central nervous system – that allow acupuncture to have such wide, strong and lasting effects. This can be seen by people predictably being eased out of the “fight or flight” response (sympathetic) into the “rest and recuperate” state (parasympathetic) once needles are placed during a treatment.

If you have been told or have read that there is one factor to account for how acupuncture works, that explanation is probably not the whole picture.

The most commonly referenced studies on the topic of how acupuncture works have been directed and written by Dr. Bruce Pomerantz, an American physician. Through his ongoing studies, he and his colleagues have found that the body produces measurable amounts of endorphins (natural ‘pain-killing’ chemicals) when receiving acupuncture. For a time, this was thought to be the breakthrough understanding for the mechanism of acupuncture’s effect.

In our opinion however, there are limits to this explanation. For instance, his initial landmark study involved some very aggressive acupuncture needling followed by electricity added to the needles. It was only under these circumstances that the measurable amount of endorphins were identified. This does little to explain how much more subtle needling (like the sort seen in most acupuncture clinics) would initiate changes and cause reduction in pain or improve function, for example.

Dr. Pomerantz seems to acknowledge that his research conducted to this point, offers partial explanations.

[Return to Top]

What is Community Acupuncture?

The Short Version

We define Community Acupuncture as the practice of offering acupuncture:

1) in a setting where multiple patients receive treatments at the same time;

2) by financially sustainable and accountable means, whereby community acupuncture clinics depend directly on the support of the people who receive acupuncture in them, rather than on grants, donations, or other funding;

3) within a context of accessibility, which we create by providing consistent hours, by making frequent treatments readily available, by offering affordable services, and by lowering all the barriers to treatment that we possibly can, for as many people as we possibly can, while continuing to be financially self-sustaining.

The Long Answer:

The words Community Acupuncture when put together, are not just a description of the kind of acupuncture given in a community or group setting, but also describe who is served by the acupuncture: our communities as we define them. However the words Community Acupuncture are not just describing a one-way relationship of the acupuncturists to their communities, but the relationship of the communities to the acupuncture, to the clinic, and to the practitioners, and other staff. The words Community Acupuncture when put together represent the connection and the contract between Acupuncture and Communities.

Acupuncture is often defined by the community of acupuncture practitioners as one part of the major practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine. But it is not just those who practice, or are licensed to practice, or educated to practice acupuncture who get to define what acupuncture is and isn’t. With Community Acupuncture, the definition cannot only come from those delivering care, but those who are served by acupuncture must have also have a role in defining it. To define acupuncture as a technique, or part of a body of knowledge, leaves out its active role in those who are most affected by it: our patients.

We need our patients and community members. We need them in many ways; without them we would have no practices or clinics at all, no income, no referrals, no supporters, no critics, no dynamic force to propel us forward as individual clinics, but also as a growing national, and even world movement of affordable healthcare for our communities. The contract between a community acupuncture clinic and the community it serves could be stated in a few sentences.

The clinics’ part of the contract is:

We will work to serve you, your families, by being here, when you need us, to provide acupuncture to relieve your pain and suffering.

The communities’ part of the contract is:

We will come for acupuncture, pay for our treatments, and participate in supporting the clinic in other ways.

As in all contracts: both parties give and receive.

A community acupuncture clinic gives a sustained commitment to keeping its doors open during hours that the community needs them to be open and it receives the presence of those who come. The community gives its endorsement of acupuncture’s effectiveness, to the affordable sliding-scale, to the comfort and accessibility a community acupuncture clinic, and it receives a reliable resource to maintain or improve the health of its members.

At the root of every helping profession is altruism, or the desire to help others bear their burdens. But altruism alone cannot sustain our choice to join the acupuncture profession and to bring this beautiful, simple, and effective medicine to others. Acupuncture is also a source of livelihood for its practitioners.

A Community Acupuncture cooperative extends the power of this giving and receiving beyond our locales to wider and wider circles of inter-connected clinics and communities.

[Return to Top]

Am I missing out on good acupuncture points while in Community Acupuncture?

You aren’t missing out on anything. No matter what style of acupuncture you receive or with whom, there will be excellent and effective points used, and good points that are not chosen. No one kind of acupuncture is able to use all of the acupuncture points at once – and nor should they…that would be a heckuva lot of needles!

We think your best bet is to leave the point selections to your acupuncturist, while giving them feedback about how treatments are helping to change patterns of illness or injury for you.

[Return to Top]

How can you afford to charge so little?

Because we treat lots of people. What’s most important to a community acupuncturist is simply to give many people the chance to receive treatments. Likewise, the business needs to see many people in order to make ends meet.

Plainly said, we want acupuncture to be readily available as a means to help take care of the health of our neighbors and communities.

[Return to Top]

Can I just walk-in, or do I need an appointment?

Many of our patients appreciate being able to make same-day appointments. We get it – you don’t always know ahead of time when you will want acupuncture, and if you suddenly get a free hour, you might want to fill it with a treatment! But we also really hate to turn anybody away. So while we will try to accommodate walk-ins whenever possible, we ask that you please make an appointment, even if it’s only calling ahead to make sure there’s room in the schedule before you leave your house. If you show up without calling, you are taking the chance that we might be 100% booked for the next few hours or even the whole day – it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. If you walk in without an appointment, we need to treat the people who have appointments before we treat you, so you might have to wait a lot longer than we’d like.

[Return to Top]

Can you take the place of my physician?

Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture provides affordable acupuncture, not primary care medicine. We are not able to offer Western diagnoses or screening for serious illnesses. We encourage all of our patients to have a relationship with a primary care provider. If you need a referral, please let us know.

[Return to Top]

What else do I need to know about my first treatment?

A few housekeeping details: if you need to be up by a certain time, tell the receptionist when you check in – NOT your acupuncturist, because receptionists are better at keeping track of these things! Bring whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, such as earplugs or headphones; we have pillows and blankets, but if you prefer your own, you can bring those too. Take all personal belongings with you into the treatment room, and keep your shoes on until you sit down in your chosen recliner. Remember that our community works best when everyone is reasonably flexible. One of the things we love best about our clinic is how many different kinds of people enjoy coming here for acupuncture – but some of them do snore, it’s true

[Return to Top]

Do I have to take my clothes off for treatment?

Absolutely not. Occasionally, we may need to have access to areas just above the knee or up to the shoulder joint, in which case we’d ask you to wear shorts or a tee shirt.

But by and large all it takes to get ready for treatment is to roll up pant legs and shirt sleeves, as points on the lower arms and legs are the most commonly used in community clinics. No need to take any other clothes off.

 

[Return to Top]

Can I address more than one health issue at a time with acupuncture?

Absolutely. Though we don’t know exactly how acupuncture works, we do know that it often acts like a re-set button for the entire body. Often, patients who come in for one issue – say for back pain – will notice an improvement in something apparently unrelated, such as a chronic lung problem. This can happen even when the patient doesn’t tell the acupuncturist about the apparently unrelated problem. Acupuncture also seems to have the “side effects” of reducing stress and promoting better sleep and more energy.

[Return to Top]

Do you treat pregnant women?

Yes. We get lots of referrals from midwives and obstetricians because acupuncture is effective for many pregnancy-related conditions. Also, there’s a rumor that women who get acupuncture throughout their pregnancy tend to have calm babies.
Do you treat children?
Yes. Acupuncture is often very effective for children and teens, and many of them love it. We ask only that the child in question is willing to try acupuncture; we don’t want to treat unwilling patients of any age.

 

[Return to Top]

My mother/sister/father/neighbor/friend REALLY NEEDS acupuncture, but doesn’t want to try it! I’m going to drag him/her/them in anyway! Don’t you think that’s a great idea?

No.

[Return to Top]

How do I decide how much to pay, and does how much I pay affect the treatment I get?

You should decide how much to pay based on what you feel comfortable paying, taking into account how many treatments you’ll be receiving and for how long. Your acupuncturist will discuss a treatment plan with you on your first visit and make recommendations about how often you should come in. We want to make the money fit the treatment plan, not the other way around. Don’t worry. You don’t get more or fewer needles based on how much you pay, and you can always rest in the treatment room as long as you want. The goal of the sliding scale is to make it possible for you to come in often enough and long enough to really feel better. Please also read about how our business works – we’re not in this for the money.
We should note, though, that if you repeatedly cancel without 24 hours notice, our terrifying German receptionist Ilse might threaten to treat you in the parking lot with her stapler.

[Return to Top]

Can I combine acupuncture with massage/chiropractic/osteopathic treatment/medication /exercise/etc?

You can combine acupuncture with almost anything; that’s one of the lovely things about it. Nothing is going to make it less effective, and it doesn’t interfere with anything else. It’s one of the reasons that so many doctors refer their patients to acupuncture.

[Return to Top]

Should I drink a lot of water after my treatment?

Only if you want to.

[Return to Top]

Can I have a few beers before my treatment?

This is not a good idea. As we noted above, you can combine acupuncture with almost anything, but we would really prefer that you not arrive for your treatment impaired by alcohol or recreational drugs. We are a family-friendly space, not a party zone, and if we think you’re really impaired, we’re going to ask that you leave and come back when you’re sober.

[Return to Top]

Community & Co-operatives

Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture is part of a nationwide movement to fix health care. We're members of a national co-op, the Peoples Organization for Community Acupuncture, a group that is helping bring clinics like ours into existence. Patients and acupuncturists alike are members of the co-op; anyone can join!

Building community is essential to our clinic. Stress, pain and illness are isolating. When you come for care you'll notice other people receiving treatments in the rooms with you. People are quiet during their treatments and in all likelihood you'll never know the names of the people or why they come for care. But over the years we've found that treating in a community setting makes acupuncture more effective. Group treatments like ours are common in Asia. And it makes it easier for us to see the volume of people we need to keep our prices low. And for patients to bring their family and friends along, too.

Often patients enjoy the space so much they want to become more involved in the community: they join POCA, the Peoples Organization for Community Acupuncture, and find our ways to contribute by volunteering and getting involved.

If you're interested in helping out, just let the front desk staff know. Communities like ours are always growing. For more information about the community acupuncture movement and POCA click here.

Download Paperwork

Download

The Documentary

Click to watch online

Watch Our Video

Services that Empower

Self-directed Care

Our approach to care is based on mutuality and respect. Whether you come for acupuncture, herbal medicine or Reiki, we work to give you tools and help you experience rest and restorative healing. We don’t lecture or spend a lot of time telling you what to do; we focus on providing you care. The clinic maintains a library for patients and organizes community resources that support healthy lifestyles. In our reception area you’ll find we sell self-care products like teas, foam rollers, liniments and salves.

At Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture we believe the more we know about our health, the better we can make decisions that promote our wellbeing.

We also have a community bulletin board with local happenings. And a map of POCA clinics located around the continent. So if you travel or have friends in need of acupuncture you can always look for a nearby community acupuncture clinic.

Our patients and staff enjoy the connections and community vibe at our clinics. That’s why community is in our name.  We’re here to be together in community.

Zines!

Zines!

  A zine is an independently or self-published booklet, often hand-made & affordably-priced. Often devoted to specific and unconventional topics. Our zines focus on community & health, because that’s what *we’re* about!  Because they don’t have any sort of corporate backing, zines are very rugged, opinionated, individualized, and much more charismatic than larger, more popular… Continue Reading

Self-Care and the Acupuncturist

Self-Care and the Acupuncturist

Ever fall off the self-care wagon, and have no idea how to jump back on? Not even sure what self care is?  Here’s my definition: Self-Care is any activities and practices we do on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain / enhance our well-being. It aims to help us: – Take care of physical and… Continue Reading

Rad Mads Meetups

Rad Mads Meetups

Mental Health Peer Support Rad Mads meetups take place monthly @Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture on the last Friday of every month at 7pm. Our Reiki practitioner, Jimmy Dunson, is now facilitating monthly meetups at the clinic whose aim is to offer peer support and mutual aid for people experiencing extreme states of mind. These “Rad Mads… Continue Reading

Do-It-Yourself Ear Acupressure

Do-It-Yourself Ear Acupressure

Ear acupressure is one tool you can keep in your self care tool bag. This blog post is an introductory how-to guide for doing it yourself. Ear acupressure (also called “auriculotherapy” or simply “ear treatments”) is virtually free and can help you reduce symptoms and stay healthy. Using ear treatment methods, you can address everything from stress reduction and boosting immunity to… Continue Reading

x
SCHEDULE CHANGE
Thursday 4/27, Friday 4/28 and Saturday 4/29
The clinic will be closed. See you Monday, May 1st!
Book Now