Q: How does acupuncture work?
A: The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy, called meridians, flow through the body. An obstruction in the movement of this energy causes dysfunction in the body. Acupuncture treatments are designed to unblock the obstruction and restore balance. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Q: Is acupuncture safe? What are the needles like? Will it hurt?
A: When performed properly by a well-trained practitioner, acupuncture has a great safety track record. It is non-toxic and adverse reactions are minimal. The most common side effects include slight bruising and occasional bleeding at the site of needle insertion. At Integra, we use only single-use, disposable, pre-sterilized, stainless steel needles. They are solid and extremely thin. Most patients feel minimal to no pain with needle insertion and once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt.
Q: What can I expect from an appointment?
A: Your first appointment will be a detailed consultation to discuss your condition, history, and symptoms and will also include a thorough physical exam. A comprehensive treatment plan will be developed from this first visit. Acupuncture treatments will begin at subsequent visits. Needles are inserted using a quick, gentle technique and left in place for 20-40 minutes depending on your individualized treatment plan. During this time, patient are allowed to rest comfortably and often experience deep relaxation or sleep.
Q: How quickly will I respond to treatment?
A: Patient responses to acupuncture are variable but initial improvement is typically seen within 3 to 5 visits. The treatment outcome and number of treatments needed will depend on several factors, including acuity of injury or illness, severity, and general constitution of the patient.
Q: Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?
A: Most insurance companies do not yet recognize the value of acupuncture. Each policy must be reviewed to determine acupuncture benefits; however, the initial consultation is typically covered by most insurances. Additionally, flexible spending accounts (FSA) frequently cover medically indicated acupuncture treatments. Please call for treatment and package pricing.
Dr. Sheila Natarajan is a licensed medical doctor who is also trained and certified in medical acupuncture and is an active members of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 704.557.0500