First Visit? Click Here for paperwork.
What Does Acupuncture Treat?
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Seperating Myth from Fact
Our clinic offers various ancillary techniques, such as myofascial work, manipulation and now acupuncture. These techniques help increase mobility and reduce pain, inflammation and trigger points. By employing these procedures, our care can swiftly move to active therapies, including body mechanics education and progressive conditioning/rehabilitation, all serving to reduce the likelihood of future care needs, while creating patient empowerment. We have found that the collaboration of these services under one roof gives a higher probability of long term success with care.
Due to patients having numerous questions regarding acupuncture, as well as our
"Evidence Based" approach to patient management, we have supplied a considerable amount of information concerning acupuncture below:
WHAT DOES ACUPUNCTURE TREAT?
The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture, and clinical studies have shown it to be a beneficial treatment for many conditions, including:
•Chronic pain: neck & back, migraines, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis
•Digestive disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and constipation
•Urinary and reproductive disorders: menstrual cramps, irregular or heavy periods, infertility and menopausal symptoms
•Psychological and emotional disorders: depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia
•Symptom management for adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radiation, including fatigue, generalized pain, dry mouth, peripheral neuropathy, nausea and vomiting
•High blood pressure
•Addictions to nicotine, alcohol and drugs
•Overweight or obesity, when coupled with diet and exercise
DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN RESULTS?
No. In fact, acupuncture is effectively used with animals, such as horses, dogs and cats, who don’t "believe" in acupuncture. While it is helpful to have confidence in a practitioner and/or treatment, faith alone is unnecessary to obtain results.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is considered very safe when performed by a licensed practitioner using sterile needles. Each needle used at RTHC is disposable, individually packaged and sterilized. The most common risk associated with acupuncture is slight bruising or bleeding at the sight of insertion. You should not undergo acupuncture if you are taking blood thinners.
Can I get HIV or other diseases from acupuncture treatment?
Does acupuncture hurt?
No. Licensed, board certified acupuncturists use only disposable needles. Each needle is used only once on a patient, then properly discarded. Current standards have virtually eliminated any risk of infection through acupuncture.
As a general rule, there is little to no pain involved with the insertion of needles. This is due to the quick insertion and thinness of the acupuncture needles (about 25 acupuncture needles fit inside a hypodermic needle used for injections/blood tests). Some patients feel nothing, while others experience a brief moment of discomfort. The experience most patients report is relaxation. Patients have been known to fall asleep during the session.
What does a first session consist of?
During the first visit, patients complete intake paperwork to obtain information about their current symptoms, health history and any previous treatment received. Upon completion, the acupuncturist will review and discuss the forms with the patient. Additional questions will be asked about the main complaint and its symptoms. All information collected will be utilized to come up with a treatment plan.
How long does a session take?
The initial session is typically an hour or longer. Some of that time is for the examination process with the remainder of the time for treatment. Routine treatment visits are about 45-60 minutes.
HOW DEEP DO THE NEEDLES GO?
The depth of needle insertion is dependent upon a variety of factors, including the point location, patient size and the specific condition being treated.
How should I prepare?
Arrive to your appointment 5-10 minutes early, as this will give you time to relax. We recommend wearing loose fitting layers that can be removed or that will allow access to limbs and trunk; the acupuncturist may need to access points on the torso, arms, legs, feet or hands. It is recommended to have eaten, but not be too full.
How many treatments will I need?
The amount of treatments necessary will differ for each individual and each condition. However, most conditions require several sessions to obtain maximum improvement. After the evaluation, the acupuncturist will review and give a typed plan of care, detailing the frequency and duration of care. A typical treatment plan is for 6-12 sessions at 1 or 2 times per week. There are several key factors involved in an individual’s response: severity and duration of the condition, overall health, recurring aggravating factors, diet, and activity level. For instance, an acute episode of low back pain tends to take fewer sessions than a patient with a 20 year history of fibromyalgia. Regardless, if the patient is not responsive after 6-12 sessions, treatment is abandoned and the patient is sent to their medical provider for further evaluation and exploration of other treatment options.
SHOULD I CONTINUE WITH MY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION WHILE RECEIVING ACUPUNCTURE?
Yes! Never stop prescription medication(s) without talking to the prescribing physician.
How does acupuncture work?
Western medicine explanation:
- By inserting very thin needles at specific points throughout the body, a variety of chemical and physiological conditions are altered throughout the body.
- Sensory receptors within the nervous system are stimulated, in turn effecting the hypothalamic pituitary system within the brain (responsible for releasing various neurotransmitters and endorphins), thereby assisting in reducing/eliminating pain.
- Acupuncture causes the release of other substances that relax the body, and regulate brain serotonin, which affects emotional states.
- Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry, causing an impact on sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions, blood pressure regulation, blood flow and body temperature.
- Physiological effects including increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count (supports the immune system) have been reported within the scientific literature.
- The Chinese have been using acupuncture for more than 3,500 years.
- Acupuncture draws on the belief that energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) circulates throughout our body, flowing along pathways called meridians. Disease, an injury, illness or pain is due to a disruption of Qi flow. Acupuncture balances the flow of Qi, allowing our body’s natural ability to heal.
Acupuncture: Separating Myth from Fact
Test your knowledge about this ancient art.
Jamie Starkey, LAc
Myth: Acupuncture is ancient medicine; no legitimate healthcare professional would recommend it.
Fact: Acupuncture is a treatment option currently recommended by many medical institutions, including Cleveland Clinic. Many clinical research trials on acupuncture are funded by the National Institutes of Health. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide range of conditions.
Myth: Acupuncture’s effects are psychological. It doesn't really do anything.
Fact: Many clinical studies show that acupuncture affects the body’s nervous and endocrine (glandular) systems, and decreases inflammation associated with different diseases. MRI studies reveal that during acupuncture, our brains begin to release endorphins (natural painkillers), as well as serotonin and dopamine (the body’s “feel-good” mood-regulating chemicals).
Myth: Most people who use, or practice, acupuncture are into ‘New Age’ healing.
Fact: On the contrary, you probably have a friend, coworker or neighbor who is getting acupuncture treatments.
Myth: Acupuncture may conflict with medication, physical therapy and other ‘mainstream’ medical treatments.
Fact: There is no conflict between acupuncture and Western medicine; they complement one another. Acupuncture works nicely as an adjunct to your conventional treatment plan.
Myth: Acupuncture is only useful in treating pain.
Fact: It’s true that acupuncture helps relieve joint pain, back pain and sciatica, headache, stomach pain and menstrual cramps. However, acupuncture is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, nausea/vomiting, chemotherapy side effects, morning sickness, hypertension (high blood pressure), allergies, depression, infertility and other conditions.
Myth: Acupuncture hurts — after all, we're talking needles!
Fact: Although we use needles, they are very slender and fine. You may or may not feel an initial prick, sometimes described as a mosquito bite. Any discomfort will either fade on its own or will be relieved as your acupuncturist adjusts the needles. You should experience a Qi (pronounced “chee”) sensation, often described as heaviness, throbbing or an electrical sensation. That’s your body’s healing energy doing its work.
Myth: Acupuncture has a lot of side effects and you’ll need time off work.
Fact: Acupuncture has few to no side effects; they occur in less than 1 percent of reportable cases. After your acupuncture session, you should be able to carry on throughout your day with no restrictions.
Myth: Once you start acupuncture, you’ll always need acupuncture.
Fact: For most conditions, acupuncturists want to get you to the point where your main problem has been resolved and you no longer have to return. Some people stay on a maintenance schedule, however, such as returning once a month, because acupuncture continues to help a chronic condition.
Myth: If you do not see results in one or two treatments, then you’re unlikely to benefit from acupuncture.
Fact: The response to acupuncture is always an individual one. Some people respond quickly — within one, two or three treatments. Others need a full course of eight to 10 treatments. Acupuncture’s effects are cumulative, building with each treatment, so the acupuncturist will assess its effects after you complete a full series of treatments.
Myth: You’ll need a doctor’s referral or a prescription for acupuncture.
Fact: Guidelines vary by state. In Illinois, anyone can make an appointment for acupuncture.
Jamie Starkey is Lead Acupuncturist for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine, within our Wellness Institute.