While East Asian Medicine is an ancient art, to many it is new, unknown territory. There are many questions to sort out when something is different from what we commonly know. Here are a few of the questions I hear most often, along with links to other sites full of great information on the subject. If you find that you still have unanswered questions don't hesitate to contact me and ask away.
What types of conditions does East Asian medicine treat?
This medicine treats the whole person who may have many different conditions. The World Health Organization agrees that acupuncture can treat: acute and chronic pain, allergies, anxiety and depression, arthritis and joint pain, asthma, chemotherapy-induced side effects, colds and flu, digestive problems/gastrointestinal disorders, fertility concerns (male and female), headaches/migraines, menopause symptoms, menstrual irregularity and pain, PMS symptoms, preventative care/health maintenance, surgery recovery, sleep disorders/insomnia, sports injuries, stroke recovery, TMD/TMJ, urinary problems, and much more!
How do I know if acupuncture is right for me?
If you have felt dissatisfied with conventional forms of treatment, or if you are just wanting a more holistic approach. Many people come to acupuncture after they haven't responded to other treatment approaches for their chronic health issues. Others come because they are experiencing side effects from other treatments. The experience of trying acupuncture and East Asian medicine is transformative on many levels. You will feel heard and understood and become more aware of who you are and what you can be.
What can I expect in a treatment?
An initial acupuncture appointment is 90 minutes, during that time we will talk through your full medical history, as well as talk about your current conditions and concerns, lifestyle, environment, diet, and emotions. There will be a lot of questions! At times you may wonder how they all relate or why they matter. Remember that this is a holistic medicine and that your health is interconnected in many ways. Often the symptomatic concerns that bring you to seek out an appointment can all be from the same root cause. This is discovered through the many questions. At the end of the questioning, you will have a full treatment time at the initial appointment. Follow-up appointments will be 60 minutes in length in most cases.
Each appointment will consist of a questioning time, pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, and often palpation of abdomen and or channel palpation. Every treatment will be a unique experience in terms of which modalities are chosen based upon how you present at that time. We are all always changing, and so will your treatment. I will explain the day's treatment and what it will consist of. The treatment will be applied, and you will be given time to relax. Yes, as odd as it may sound, it is a relaxing experience to have needles stuck in you, many fall asleep during this time. At the end of the treatment your pulse will be checked once again and you may be given some suggestions for things to do at home to enhance your treatment and journey to wellness.
How should I prepare for a treatment?
You will need to have eaten something before coming in for a treatment, this is so that your body will have the energy to be worked with. It is best if you have not recently had caffeine as this makes you more sensitive. It is also important to have had enough water both before and after. Just like massage, drinking water especially after will help you clear and process anything released during treatment.
How is a diagnosis made and what does it mean?
Diagnosis is based upon the questions of course, but also pulse, tongue and palpation. All of this information is taken into account to come up with a primary organ diagnosis of focus. This is not the same as the actual organ's health in a Western model sense, but an energetic meridian system.
The pulse system that is used is not like Western Medicine. The pulse is divided into 12 different positions, 3 positions at 2 levels on each wrist. These all correspond to an organ system that gives the practitioner information about the vitality of that system as well as how the systems are working together. The goal by the end of a treatment is to have your unique pulse harmonized and working together.
You will be asked to stick out your tongue every appointment. The tongue is like a weather map of your body systems and information can be gathered about overall conditions internally.
Palpation is done on the abdomen and other areas of the body to locate areas of tenderness. This tenderness indicates a blockage, or traffic jam, that needs to be restored to proper flow. Through palpation areas that need additional support can also be discovered and addressed. Palpation often can be a confirmation of the medicine actually working for you as the areas of tenderness lessen and disappear throughout the treatment.
Does it hurt?
One would think that having needles stuck in you would hurt, but in actuality it is very comfortable and relaxing. Many patients fall asleep during their treatment. The philosophy of "No pain, no gain," doesn't apply here. Acupuncture doesn't have to hurt to be very deeply effective. The needles come in a guide tube that is placed on the skin, and that is what you feel most. Sometimes there is a slight sensation as the needle is inserted, but again, the needles are tiny and the feeling goes away almost instantly. At times you may feel an ache or activity of energy around the location, and most often you won't feel anything at all. Just be in open communication with your practitioner about your level of comfort as everything can be adjusted.
At the end of the treatment you will feel deeply relaxed in what I call "aculand," due to the release of endorphins from the treatment.
How long and/or how often will I need treatment?
Treatments are cumulative, meaning that they build upon each other for a more long-lasting effect. In China and Japan treatments are given daily when a condition is acute. Here that is harder, but treatments closer together increase results faster. With acute conditions it is best to have treatments once or twice a week, for chronic conditions once a week. Generally you will see a noticeable change within 5 treatments. After 5 treatments you and the practitioner will know how your body responds to the medicine and make an updated treatment plan. The goal is to get you back to health, and then provide preventative care as needed.
Do I have to understand or believe in it to have it work?
After thousands of years it is still not known exactly how acupuncture is so effective. You have to have trust in your practitioner and yourself, and then the results will speak for themselves. I have been asked by patients before if this medicine is a religion, and it is not. People of all faiths can benefit from this medical system.
How should I choose a practitioner?
The patient and practitioner enter into a partnering relationship. There is a lot of time spent gathering information and talking through what is going on in your life to find the linkages to your current health. That said, you have to trust and faith in your practitioner. Ideally there should be a connection felt, and a feeling that you are understood. This will be different for everyone, but it is vital that you feel comfortable enough to be open and honest in order to get the best care.
East Asian medicine is a science and an art. The same principles can be applied in many ways through many modalities. Even the same single acupuncture point can be needled in many different ways from practitioner to practitioner. You may need to visit a few acupuncturists to find that best fit for you.
Does insurance cover treatment?
More and more insurance plans are now covering alternative care such as acupuncture. Please call your plan to inquire about your plan's coverage and if I am in network with your plan. Please also bring your insurance information with you to your appointment. If you are curious before an appointment is made, send Well Within an email with the information and I will do my best to find out and get back to you.
I am an in-network provider for many insurance companies, and can bill as an out-of network provider for others if your plan has acupuncture coverage.
In addition to health insurance, acupuncture is a covered benefit in motor vehicle accidents (PIP-Personal Injury Protection) and workers' comp cases if those situations apply to you.
So what if I don't have insurance?
There is a time of service payment price. Please call or email and we will explore all avenues.
Well Within accepts cash, check, and credit cards via Square.