- Does insurance cover the cost?
I provide receipts with ICD-9 codes for my patients to submit to their carriers. While most patients pay for treatment out of pocket, it is worth inquiring with your carrier to see if you can be reimbursed for your treatment. Those who maintain cafeteria plans with their employer are able to be reimbursed by those plans for the cost of their treatment.
- How do I find a licensed acupuncturist?
The state of Missouri grants licenses to acupuncturists who have passed the national exam of the National Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Those who have passed the national exam may use the initials "Dipl. Ac." after their name. Generally, those who pass this exam have graduated from a three-year master's degree program (denoted by "M.Ac."). Go to www.nccaom.org to find a Dipl. Ac.
- How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
Most acupuncturists will recommend that you plan to have a treatment once or twice each week for about five weeks. It is common for symptoms to be significantly reduced at the end of this time. Thereafter, you may choose to continue at the same pace , or you may reduce frequency to weekly or bi-weekly and then monthly or seasonally for maintenance. Your practitioner will help you plan the best frequency for your treatment goals.
- What are the needles like?
Acupuncture needles are completely unlike needles used for injecting medicine, drawing blood, or for sewing. Instead, these hair-thin needles are solid, rather than hollow, and are designed to glide into the skin. They do not have a rough edge as do hypodermic needles that are used to deliver medicine or withdraw blood. Neither are they rigid like a needle that could be used to sew together two pieces of material. Instead, they flex and are too fine to puncture the thick walls of an artery. It is very rare to bleed from an acupuncture needle. Only very rarely might bruising be caused from hitting a capillary. Each needle is sterile and sealed in an individual blister packaging until the time of needling. Needles are disposed of in a bio-hazardous container after each and every treatment, never to be used again.
- What symptoms does acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture has been recognized by both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health as a useful means of relieving a great variety of symptoms. It has been used effectively for joint and muscle pain, problems of digestion and sleep, fatigue, depression, anxiety, migraine, and respiratory complaints, among others. Whereas western allopathic treatment is more effective in providing faster relief for acute and critical conditions, acupuncture is often more successful for chronic conditions that have not been successfully addressed with surgery or medication. Increasingly, the western and eastern approaches are being usefully complemented within a single patient's care.
- Why would I go to an acupuncturist?
There are many reasons why patients choose acupuncture. These include a preference for a non-surgical and non-medicative approach, and a desire to tap into the body's gentle healing potential. Often, patients begin acupuncture treatment because other approaches have not been satisfactory in responding to their symptoms. Some patients even use acupuncture to maintain and also optimize their health, finding that acupuncture improves their energy-level and helps them get sick less often.
- Will acupuncture help my condition?
Acupuncture is based on a tradition that predates the form of western medicine commonly practiced today. Diagnoses that are derived from the perspective of western medicine are not used as the basis of treatment in acupuncture. Instead of focusing on nerves and biochemicals, your acupuncturist will focus on how qi* is moving in your body. Your acupuncturist treats YOU, not your condition. (* "Qi" is often translated as "life force" and commonly associated with the body's inherent electromagnetism.)
- Will acupuncture interfere with my western medical treatment, medication, etc. ?
Acupuncture has been used to speed recovery from surgery as well as counter the side-effects of chemotherapy. It is a useful adjunct to a host of therapies including psychotherapy and those that use physical manipulation (osteopathy, physical therapy, chiropractice, massage). Some patients who use medication for chronic conditions find their doctor is able to reduce the recommended dosage or they notice that they use medications less frequently if they are receiving treatment on a regular basis.
- Will it hurt?
Patients are often surprised by how little sensation they feel when the needles are inserted. Acupuncture needles are as thin as human hair and are designed to glide into the skin. They are very soft and flexible. Some parts of the body, such as fingers and toes tend to be more sensitive and the points in these areas may sting for a few seconds. Often, the insertion is not felt at all, while the contact of the needle with the qi following insertion can generate a variety of sensations; there may be a dull, aching sensation, a sense of electrical current being propagated along the meridian, or a mere heaviness or thickness.