How should I prepare?
Most importantly come in with an open mind. Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, not a Western Medical model. Some concepts are the same but some are drastically different. I will do my best to explain every action. Wear loose, comfortable clothes (sweat pants, yoga pants, t-shirts, loose sweatshirts). Women should wear a tank top underneath as I often need to access to the upper back/neck area. Please refrain from wearing one piece dresses. If you’d like to bring clothes to change into that’s fine. Also if you need to be draped that is okay as well. If you have questions about what to wear please ask me. Don’t eat a large meal before you come in to your treatment. Also avoid being overly hungry. Make sure you are hydrated. Try to avoid strenuous exercise, drugs and alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit. Bring a list of medications you take. If possible, please don’t use perfume or cologne prior to treatment. Make notes of how you feel between treatments and bring them to your next appointment.
What should I expect?
At your initial appointment we will review your overall health and address specific problems you’d like to deal with. The information collected during this session is essential to the development of a correct diagnosis. Treatments are usually performed lying down on a massage table and last about an hour. Acupuncture points are located all over the body, however many useful points are located between the wrists and the elbows and the ankles and the knees. After the needling you will be left in the treatment room with peaceful music playing in the background. The areas around the needles generally feel different. Heavy, warm, buzzing, itchy, alive – these are all words that my patients use to describe the “De Qi” feeling (the feeling that Qi has arrived at the point). For some people acupuncture is quite the “Zen” experience. Some people fall asleep during their acupuncture treatments, which is just fine. Most people get off the table feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
Do the needles hurt?
Not usually. The needles are very thin – nothing like needles at your doctor’s office. With that said, all people experience pain differently. Most of my patients report that the majority of insertions don’t hurt at all, however sometimes they do feel a tiny prick, almost like a mosquito bite. The pain usually subsides right away. Most people really enjoy their acupuncture treatments and feel very energized and refreshed after a session. If you are particularly afraid of needles please let me know so I can tailor my treatment to your needs.
Are the needles sterile?
Yes, all the needles I use are sterile and single use. They are used for one insertion and then discarded.
How deep do they go? It really varies depending on your body type, the part of the body that is getting needled and the style of acupuncture employed. Sometimes they just break the skin. Other times they can go much deeper into muscle tissue (on larger parts of the body) – usually no more than a couple of inches. The majority of the time the needles go in about ¼ inch to ½ inch. Needles are always inserted transversely or obliquely over vital organs.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes. Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. The needles are completely sterile which greatly reduces any risk of infection. There are very few, if any, side effects. Acupuncture is a completely natural drug-free healthcare system that allows your body’s own energy to heal itself.
- “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. As an example, musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and tennis elbow, or epicondylitis, are conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial. These painful conditions are often treated with, among other things, anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) or with steroid injections. Both medical interventions have a potential for deleterious side effects but are still widely used and are considered acceptable treatments. The evidence supporting these therapies is no better than that for acupuncture.”
- (An excerpt from the NIH Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, 1997.)
How many treatments will I need?
That depends. Although some people experience relief after 1 or 2 treatments, a longer course of treatment may be necessary. Normally, if the problem you are coming in for has been around for a long time, your course of treatment is longer. An average course of treatment is 6-12 sessions.
What is Qi?
Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a Chinese word that really can’t be translated that well into English. Some of the best translations are “Vital Energy” or “Life Force Energy”. Qi is basically energy that travels through the various acupuncture meridians. Qi can become blocked or deficient. Blocked Qi manifests itself as pain or disease. Deficient Qi can manifest as lack of energy, insominia and digestive problems. Specific acupuncture points are selected based on your symptoms and overall presentation. These points are then needled to allow Qi to flow more smoothly.
If I have a pain in my head, why is there a needle in my hand?
Acupuncture is a meridian based system. Meridians start on the torso and end on the limbs (or vice versa). Therefore, oftentimes points that are distal to the actual area of pain are used. Needles don’t always go exactly where the problem is (although sometimes they do).
How many needles are used?
An average acupuncture treatment uses as few as two needles or as many as forty, depending on the condition being treated, the constitution of the patient and the style of acupuncture being performed.
Do I have to “believe” in acupuncture for it to work?
No. Acupuncture is performed on children who are too young to understand anything about it and also on animals. It still works.
What type of education do acupuncturists get?
Acupuncture school is a rigorous three year Master’s Degree graduate program. An undergraduate degree is required. The third year is rooted in clinical experience.
Does my insurance cover acupuncture?
Sometimes. Unfortunately, many insurance companies in Massachusetts do not cover acupuncture (yet), there are a few exceptions though. As more and more research is done the possibility that it will be covered in the future is promising. Check with your insurance company. Some questions to ask are: 1. Do I need a referral? Do I need to go to a specific provider? How many visits will the insurance cover? Most Workmen’s Compensation cases will cover acupuncture as well as automobile insurance in the case of a car accident. Let me know if you’d like me to work with your insurance company. I can also provide you with a detailed invoice that you may be able to submit to your insurance for possible reimbursement. If the insurance company doesn’t pay in a reasonable amount of time, I reserve the right to bill the patient for services rendered. For more info on insurance and insurance discounts click here.
Acupuncture is eligible for coverage under Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Some insurances offer a discount as part of a wellness extra benefit. Ask your insurance company.
How much does acupuncture cost?
Please see the Services page, inquire for pricing.
What’s your cancellation policy? Please allow 24 hours in the event that you need to cancel, otherwise, payment in full will be expected.
What are your hours? Appointments are generally scheduled within the times below. Always by appointment only.
Massachusetts Cities & Towns Served: Reading, North Reading, Wakefield, Woburn, Burlington, Wilmington, Andover, North Andover, Stoneham, Winchester, Billerica, Medford, Melrose, Lexington, Lynnfield, Saugus, Peabody, Danvers, Lynn