FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long has Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) been around?
- TCM has been around for over 2,500 years and is considered the oldest practiced medical system on the face of the earth.
Do I need a referral from a doctor to come to acupuncture?
- No. In New York state, you do not need a referral from a doctor to come to Acupuncture! However, by law, we do not take the place of your medical doctor and we advise that you seek a medical doctor for the conditions for which you are seeking us.
Is TCM a “cure?”
- Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to wellness. In order to maximize treatments, diet and lifestyle changes are necessary for a potential “cure.” In some instances, TCM can help either way, but results are oftentimes potentiated by positive lifestyle changes.
How long is a treatment?
- An initial visit treatment is about 90 minutes. This visit includes a detailed intake, treatment planning, and full acupuncture treatment. A return visit takes 60 minutes, this includes a brief intake and an acupuncture treatment which may or may not include other modalities of TCM such as cupping, gua sha, or tui na.
How does acupuncture work?
- Although some believe that Chinese Medicine – acupuncture especially – is very mystical, it was actually founded on common sense. The Chinese looked at the world – they observed nature, cyclical changes, and the elements and deduced something simple: Because the body is a microcosm of the universe, changes that occur in nature, can occur in the body as well. From this simple thought, the twelve channels or meridian system was founded. The twelve channels are believed to be the conduit through which the vital substance flows. Just to give a little background information: there are twelve rivers in China (not a coincidence twelve channels exist) and the Chinese observed what happened when a blockage occurred in one of the rivers – basically the water couldn’t make it downstream to sustain other villages. The same concept can be applied to the body. For example, if there is a blockage at the shoulder, problems may manifest themselves in the elbow or wrist. Why, you ask? Well, the impediment at the shoulder effects the downstream flow and consequentially the anatomy and physiology of the whole arm. There is a famous saying in Chinese that says, “Bu tong ze tong,” which is translated to mean, “Where there is pain, there is stagnation.” To break this down a little further, in Chinese Medicine, pain and disease is thought to be stagnation and it’s our job as acupuncturists to decipher why this stagnation is occurring in the first place. Back to the original question of how acupuncture works - The simplest answer is: acupuncture works by influencing the body beneath an inserted needle. We have various techniques that can be used to remove pathogenic influences, disintegrate stagnation, facilitate free flow, stimulate the functions of the organs, or direct vital substances to where it is insufficient.
Does acupuncture hurt?
- Merriam Webster describes a needle as, “a slender hollow instrument for introducing material into or removing material from the body (as by insertion under the skin).” Yikes – as if they need that last parenthesis. The word “needle” causes traumatic childhood flashbacks of nurses equipped with huge hollow hypodermic needles intentionally piercing the skin in order to inject a plethora of vaccinations. It only takes one injection or blood draw – the first – to know and further be conditioned that “needles” usually hurt! This is the very reason why people are fearful of acupuncture: since needles are involved, they assume serious pain will be inflicted. This is so far from the truth, in fact, acupuncture needles are about the width of one human hair. This denotes roughly 6-15 acupuncture needles can be inserted into the average hypodermic needle. They also have a rounded tip - not a cutting edge. What does this mean? While Acupuncture is not sensation-less, painful is not the most accurate word to describe it. The desirable sensation of an acupuncture needle is not sharp or stabbing. Oftentimes, many people will feel a variety of sensations including a heavy, dull, achey, or warm sensation. In addition, some may feel "traveling sensations" such as movement in other parts of the body, possibly even in locations where there are no needles located. Most people find acupuncture very relaxing; in fact, many people easily doze off for a nap while the needles are still inserted.
Is acupuncture safe for me? What are the risks?
- Acupuncture is considered a minimally invasive procedure. While there are some risks, typically for most people, the benefits outweigh the risks. Minimal risks of acupuncture include: bruising, numbness, tingling, pin point bleeding at the site of insertion, dizziness or fainting. More severe and unusual risks of acupuncture include nerve damage, organ puncture, or infection. Single use, sterile needles are used in order to prevent infection and your acupuncturist is well trained to needle properly over the chest and abdomen to avoid organ puncture. It is important to tell your acupuncturist if you suspect you're pregnant because this will change which points are selected for acupuncture treatments. The risks and benefits of other modalities such as cupping, gua sha, and herbal medicine will be discussed before administration of these techniques. Your acupuncturist encourages questions and your comfort is our upmost priority.
Is acupuncture safe for my children?
- For acupuncture treatments, children have the same risks as adults. However, if the child is scared or sensitive to needles, we have many other types of modalities that can be used for their condition. Typically for children, we begin acupuncture treatments slowly, by only selecting a few points.
How many treatments will I need?
- The number of treatments is dictated based on the condition and constitution (See What is constitution?). Unfortunately, there is not a specific number of treatments that is the answer for everyone. Typically one full course of treatment is ten treatments - however, this may not be enough for chronic conditions. As mentioned above, diet and lifestyle changes will facilitate changes more rapidly.
Do I have to be ill to receive treatment?
- No! This is the beauty of Chinese Medicine because it can be used for prevention of disease as well - especially during season changes.
How are Chinese Herbs different from Western Herbs?
- Chinese herbs are typically prescribed in a "formula." This means that multiple herbs are used together to perform a particular action on the body. Typically Western Herbs are individually prescribed. Furthermore, there are different forms of administration of Chinese Herbs such as raw herbs, granules, or prepared products. Raw herbs are just that - they need to be cooked in a water decoction for 35-40 minutes before they are strained and the water is consumed. Granules are consumed as a tea. They are a more concentrated powder form of herbs, which are scooped into water and stirred to dissolve. Prepared products are usually taken as pills; however, other prepared products may be used topically in the form of tinctures or liniments.
Do you take insurance?
- While Avenue Acupuncture does not bill insurance, we are happy to provide a super bill with all the information needed to file a claim with your insurance provider. As always, payment is due up front.
What are your credentials?
- I have a Masters of Science in Acupuncture and a Master's of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
What’s the difference between a certified acupuncturist and a licensed acupuncturist?
What’s the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
- Dry needling, also known as "trigger point therapy" has been used in TCM for thousands of years. It involves the insertion and manipulation of an acupuncture needles into painful or tender points for a therapeutic purpose. Some healthcare professionals believe that acupuncture is different from dry needling, because it does not use the paradigm of Chinese Medicine to select indicated acupuncture points. However, dry needling is not a "manual therapy," for which it is billed. It is merely acupuncture based on the location of tenderness.
Can Chinese medicine treat acute sports injuries?
- In terms of musculoskeletal injuries, Chinese Medicine can be quite effective in improving blood flow, decreasing stagnation, and reducing pain. Chinese medicine can be used in conjunction with Western Medicine in order to promote rapid healing.