By Dr. Lynnea Felton, NMD,
Naturopathic Physician at Health for Life Naturopathic Medicine
Chinese acupuncture has a record of use dating back over 3,000 years ago. Acupuncture uses the concept that the body has two opposing forces: yin and yang. Energy within our body (also called qi- pronounced “chee”) and blood are both meant to flow freely along pathways along the body called meridians. This allows for yin and yang to be balanced. If the energy or blood becomes stagnant at any point in our body, yin and yang become imbalanced and disease results. Treatment is based on targeting those points to restore harmony. These points are either needled with a very small and painless needle, pressed on and massaged, or heated. Diagnosis for acupuncture differs from traditional medical diagnosis in that practioners determine what the pulse feels like and tongue looks like to diagnose the disease process that is happening in the body that causes the specific symptoms. This allows for acupuncture to be an individualized treatment.
Acupuncture can treat a wide range of disease, whether a diagnosis is known or not. Common conditions that I see in my office include desired weight loss, chronic pain, headaches, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, infertility, constipation or diarrhea, and irregular menstrual periods. Acupuncture is also used for prevention of disease. I regularly perform acupuncture as part of my patient’s treatment plans to aid in optimal healing.
What to expect
During the initial visit, you will share your story of your symptom timeline and what your most concerning symptoms are. Using the combination of your symptoms and diagnosis using the tongue and pulse, I will create a personalized acupuncture treatment plan to gently restore balance. The number of needles inserted can range but typically with the initial appointment, minimal is best! Depending on your concerns, you may lay with needles inserted for 20-30 minutes. At the end of treatment, you may have a sensation of soreness, but that does not occur with each patient or treatment. If experienced, effects typically last around two days.
Is it painful?
When each needle is inserted, you may feel a sense of heaviness or pressure that should not be painful. Traditional Chinese acupuncture uses very thin, small needles, as well as a quick insertion technique to greatly minimize discomfort. Where acupuncture points are located in the body they may feel like a trigger point, or tenderness to pressure when pressed, but when the needle is inserted it will not cause pain.
How many sessions will I need?
With acupuncture, one treatment is typically not enough to fully address concerns, although most patients notice improvement after the first session. Most people notice the most benefit after at least 10 sessions. Positive effects from treatment can last from days to several weeks between treatments.
Who can have acupuncture?
People of any age can have acupuncture, however in the very young, needles will not be used. Instead, acupressure is performed, which is gentle but as effective as needle insertion in this population.
For more information on if acupuncture would help to treat your concerns, call our office at 602-368-9211.