What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of several major modalities of East Asian Medicine. It is based on the ideas and theories formulated over the past few thousand years of practice in Asia and abroad. Acupuncture can simply be defined as the insertion of very fine filiform needles into specific tissues of our bodies to create a healing response (check out our blogs Taking the Point Out of the Needle and How Does Acupuncture Work? for more information). These needles may be used alongside moxibustion (herbal heat therapy) and electric stimulation/TENS Unit to increase stimulation and the effects of acupuncture.

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture has many mechanisms of operation depending on the desired effect. Some of these effects include: Optimizing Recovery, Reducing Pain, Circulatory Enhancement, Heightening the Nervous System, Strengthen the Immune System, and Maximizing Performance. Simply put, Acupuncture has been shown to dramatically increase blood flow to local needle sites by causing dilatation of blood vessels. This increase in blood flow promotes faster recovery, enhanced healing, and disease prevention. Acupuncture induces the release of naturally circulating painkillers and hormones. These hormones naturally alleviate pain (some are stronger than morphine), reduce the perception of pain, and stimulate the body’s built-in self healing mechanisms. Acupuncture stimulates different fibers on nerves which help regulate nerve impulses. These same stimulations help muscles dissipate tension from themselves and allow muscles to relax and receive greater blood flow to heal themselves.
All of the above mentioned effects of acupuncture can be explained in these ways: 1. Augmentation of Immunity (acupuncture raises the levels of leukotrienes, prostaglandins, white blood cells, gamma globulins, opsonins, and anti-body’s which all fight disease and boost immunity), 2. Endorphin Release (acupuncture stimulates the secretions of endorphins that relieve pain stronger than morphine), 3. Nervous System Regulation (acupuncture positively effects serotonin and noradrenaline levels to stabilize mood, alleviate stress, and heighten the nervous system), 4. Circulatory Regulation (acupuncture can constrict and dilate blood vessels by stimulating the release of vasodilators like Histamine), and 5. Neuromuscular Alteration (acupuncture regulates nervous response to either jump a threshold in chronic pain conditions, or override responses in acute conditions). For a deeper understanding check out our blog on How Does Acupuncture Work?).

How long has Acupuncture been practiced?

Acupuncture was systematized around 2,500 years ago in China, but has records dating back to 5,000 years ago. The oldest medical book in East Asian Medical history is the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Canon. This book is still relevant to thousands of students every year and is the foundation of Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine. The field of Acupuncture is ancient, but manages to adapt and change as we learn more about our bodies and health and disease.

Is Acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is extremely safe. Every licensed Acupuncturist in New York State is required to pass a Clean Needle Technique Course held by the state which ensures safe needling and disposal of needles. Every needle is sterile and disposal after single-use. Safety is assured with the training that Acupuncturists get in New York State.

Is Acupuncture painful?

Acupuncture needles are very thin and blunt. These structural advantages allow acupuncture needles to cause limited discomfort and pain during insertion as well as altering soft tissue without damaging it. When most people think of needles they reminisce of the hypodermic needles used at all doctor’s offices which are thick, hollow, and bevelled (serrated edges for cutting). In comparison to getting a shot or having blood drawn, acupuncture needles feel like mosquito bites or a light pressure. To learn more about Acupuncture needles read our blog Taking the Point Out of the Needle.

How long do treatments take/how many treatments are needed and how often?

The first office visit usually lasts 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The first 30 minutes are taken up by question-taking and physical examinations. Follow up visits consist solely of acupuncture and physical evaluations, and therefore only take 45-60 minutes.
The amount of sessions needed are more easily estimated during the initial evaluation. Without seeing the state of health you are in, it is very difficult to give an exact duration of treatment. With an evaluation and initial treatment, a gauge of treatment duration is much easier. It is not uncommon for patients to experience immense relief within the first one or two visits, while other chronic conditions can take several treatments to reach results.

What is an acupuncture treatment like?

Most patients relate the insertion of acupuncture needles to a sensation of pressure. Depending on the region of the body being treated, the insertion can be slightly pinching, like that of a mosquito bite. Once the needles are inserted there is a sensation of heaviness, pressure, warmth, and tingling. These are all positive signs that the needles have stimulated the targeted tissues and are begging to create an environment for healing and reaching homeostasis (read more at our Taking the Point Out of the Needle and How Does Acupuncture Work? blogs).
In addition to the treatment itself, we will ask a series of health questions to get an idea of your state of health and wellness, and perform physical evaluations to test the state of your physical well-being.

How does an Acupuncturist know which points to use?

An acupuncturists’ initial evaluation and health questionnaire give them a gauge on where your body is at physically and allow them to decipher general treatment protocols. With furthered details and treatments it becomes more apparent which tissues need to be stimulated, and therefore which acupuncture points are necessary. At Rising Tide Acupuncture we use orthopedic assessments and health history questionnaires to decide which points and tissues will yield the most leverage on your system.

Are there any risks/How does the acupuncturist manage infection control?

Acupuncture needles are filiform needles meaning they are blunt and solid (read more on our blog Taking the Point Out of the Needle). Solid needles cannot hold blood or infectious agents, and make the transmission of disease much less likely. Blunt needles also cause much less damage to our body tissues, therefore not leaving them susceptible to infection.
Acupuncture needles are also disposable and one-time use. The common risks involved include: bruising, tenderness, and soreness around insertion sites.

Is Acupuncture OK for Aging patients?

Acupuncture is safe for all populations including aging patients. Acupuncture is extremely helpful for geriatric patients. Although age is not a good gauge of health, generally speaking as we age joint problems occur more frequently and overall our metabolism slows down. Acupuncture is effective in pain management, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow, strengthening the immune system, and heightening the nervous system. For these reasons Acupuncture is not only safe for older patients, but essential for living an active and healthy life.

Is Acupuncture OK for Children/Adolescents?

Acupuncture is safe for all populations including children. Acupuncture is effective in pain management, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow, and strengthening the immune system. Children usually experience issues with sports injuries, inflammatory conditions, and infectious disease. For these reasons acupuncture is not only safe, but extremely effect in the treatment of many childhood and adolescent diseases.

Is Acupuncture OK for athletes/active people?

Acupuncture is safe for all populations including athletes and physically active people. Acupuncture is effective in pain management, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow, and relaxing muscles. Athletes and active people usually suffer from orthopedic conditions as well as sports injuries. For the reasons listed above, acupuncture is not only safe but extremely effective for athletes and active people.

Do I need a referral for Acupuncture?

In New York State referrals are not required to seek Acupuncture treatment. You do not need a doctors referral nor an insurance authorization.

Is Acupuncture covered by insurance?

Acupuncture is covered by almost all major medical plans in New York State, as well as all No Fault Companies (injuries sustained during a car accident). While the practitioners at Rising Tide Acupuncture are on many insurance panels, insurance policies vary greatly, even within the same group plans. For this reason, it is highly recommended you utilize our trained front desk staff to verify your Acupuncture benefits and coverage.

Can Acupuncture help me?

Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of many different disorders and to get an idea of it’s effectiveness in relation to your condition, requires an initial evaluation which is composed of: health history questionnaire, physical examination, and neurological assessment. For more details check out our Is Acupuncture Right for Me?: The Pro’s and Con’s of East Asian Medicine blog.

What are the most common conditions patients seek?

Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine has proven to be effective in the treatment or management of all the body systems: musculoskeletal, neurological, gastrointestinal, gynecological, endocrine, dermatological, respiratory, cardiovascular, and urological. At Rising Tide Acupuncture we have a greater focus on orthopedics, musculoskeletal conditions, sports medicine, pain management, vascular, and gastrointestinal. Check out our Is Acupuncture Right for Me?: The Pro’s and Con’s of East Asian Medicine blog.

What training is required to practice acupuncture in New York State?

In New York State acupuncturists are required to receive a Master’s in Science, as well as a license in Acupuncture. There is separate licensure for the practice of Herbalism in most states, but is covered in the New York State guidelines if the acupuncturist receives a dual-Master’s in Oriental Medicine.

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