What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a clinically proven medical modality for treating a variety of ailments. It is a one branch of the Chinese Medicine systems used for at least 2000 years. Acupuncture is used to treat illness, prevent disease and improve well-being by inserting needles in a specific combination at select points. Sounds crazy eh? It is truly amazing how inserting stainless needles in specific locations can have significant beneficial effects on our body!
There are thousands of styles of acupuncture. I liken an acupuncture needle to a paint brush. You cannot say “I tried acupuncture” it didn’t work. That is like saying “I saw a painting and wasn’t impressed” and then make a judgement that all paintings are unimpressive. There are many factors that go into making an acupuncture treatment a successful therapy for you. Obvious ones are of course the practitioner’s skill and depth of their toolbox. Also important is the patient/practitioner relationship – how well do you connect? Some people also respond to certain styles better than others.
What are the needles like?
All us acupuncturist nowadays use only FDA approved sterile disposable needles. They are used only once. These needles are carefully manufactured under the guidance of FDA and carries close to zero risk of infection. Some people are afraid of acupuncture needles because of their experience with hypodermic needles which are designed to tear through skin and blood vessels. Acupuncture needles are designed to penetrate the skin at a shallow depth. The needles I use range in gauge from a 26 to 30 gauge. Other acupuncture practitioners such as those that practice Japanese acupuncture styles (which I used to do) use 40 gauge needles or thinner. (very thin!)
How many needles do you use and where do you put them?
The number of needles and location depends on the style used. 98% or more of my treatments use an amazingly effective Korean style called Sa’am which typically uses 4 needles per treatment. But sometimes I’ll use a Tung style treatment for pain conditions that can have from 3-8 needles. But most treatments typically have 4 needles but hardly ever more than 8. All the points in the Sa’am system are distal from the elbows and knees down. These points are the only points mentioned in the Classic Huang Di Nei Jing.
Does acupuncture hurt?
In the style I practice you may feel the needle penetrate the skin. But once the acupuncture is in and you settle on the table there will not be any more discomfort and people typically settle into deep relaxation.. You may feel a sensation of warmth, heaviness or energy moving through the body. The vast majority of people, even those who were afraid of acupuncture, find the experience very relaxing and rejuvenating.
What conditions you treat?
I feel that even the most chronic conditions are worth trying 3 treatments to determine benefit. I have been amazed at some of the changes that happen before my eyes with 4 needles. One thing I do not have much success with is tinnitus. If your only complaint is tinnitus then I am not your person. However if you have several other complaints besides tinnitus then sometimes we may see some improvement.
The standard line you find on many acupuncture website including mine is:
- The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture effective for a variety of ailments some of which include:
General: Allergies, Asthma, Sinusitis, Headaches, TMJ, Back Pain, Sciatica, Musculoskeletal Problems, Insomnia, Anxiety, Dizziness, Depression, High Blood Pressure, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Addictions, Indigestion, Constipation, Sexual Dysfunction, Post-Operative Recovery, Palliative Care.
Women’s Health: Menstrual Irregularities, Menopause, Conception Difficulties, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Lactation Difficulties, Postpartum, Ovarian and Uterine Problems.
Men’s Health: Prostate, Infertility, Impotence.
Preventative Health: Prevention, Stress Management, Wellness, Seasonal Attunement.
I do have special interest and excellent results with the following conditions:
- Digestive issues such as IBS, colitis, gas, bloating
- Gynecological Imbalances
- Fatigue including CFS
- Maternal Health especially during pregnancy and post-partum care
- Pain management especially of the lower back, neck and shoulders
How does acupuncture work?
That is the million dollar question. Modern research is currently attempting to uncover the physiological effect of acupuncture and one theory suggests that it effects the tensegrity of our facial tissue. The fascia is a three dimensional matrix of tissue that covers our entire body, and recent research has shown that it contains intricate inter-cellular signaling.Over 80% of all major acupuncture points lie within fascial boundaries between muscles and bones, and certain meridian systems directly correspond with fascial planes.
What should I wear?
You should wear comfortable clothing. You can wear baggy pants or sweats on the bottom and a comfortable shirt on top. I often tell my patients to leave a pair of shorts in the car and change in the room.
How many sessions do I need and how often should I get treated?
Each person is different in terms of frequency and duration of treatment. For acute conditions you may come in two times per week until the main issues are resolved. For chronic conditions typically it is 1x/week for several weeks and then we re-evaluate. It really depends on your condition and overall health.
It is important to note that 10 people can come in with the same Western complaint above and each one gets a different treatment based on their presentation. That is the beauty of the Sa’am acupuncture system as it restore function in a body rather than treating based on a named disease.
How long does a session last?
Each followup session including intake is usually about 45-55 minutes.
Your initial comprehensive session will last typically 1 hour 30 minutes.
How much does acupuncture cost?
The normal fee for acupuncture is $75-85 per session depending on how many times per week you need to be treated and the complexity of the case. The initial session is an additional $75 for the comprehensive intake.
Since I am a licensed dietitian, acupuncture sessions almost always include a discussion about diet and nutrition which is a cornerstone to good health. Each session is much more than just inserting needles as diet, lifestyle, supplements and herbal remedies are often prescribed.
Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
I am a a preferred provider for all Massachusetts plans that contract with acupuncturists as preferred providers. Currently those plans are: Aetna, United, BCBS, Allways, HPHC HMO, Tufts, BMC-Masshealth, Fallon. If you have insurance coverage with one of these plans they are billed directly and you are responsible for copay.
All acupuncture treatments are covered under pre-tax health savings accounts. You can use health savings plan credit cards or submit superbills for all acupuncture visits.
*”I didn’t even tell George anything was wrong. Yet he knew my symptoms just by checking my tongue and pulse. I was sold. Since starting treatment for fatigue, my energy has been steadily increasing and I’m functioning at a steadily higher level. As a single mom, this is vitally important.”
Janet B, Maynard, MA
*These testimonials do not imply that similar results will happen for you by using of our services. The testimonials displayed in text are shown verbatim and in their full length and no compensation was received in return.