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Acupuncture FAQs

How medically accepted is acupuncture?

Used by over 8 million Americans, the NIH and World Health Organization have formally approved certain uses of acupuncture. The World Health Organization lists over 90 conditions for which acupuncture has a proven therapeutic effect.
More and more patients are resorting to acupuncture because they feel conventional medicine has let them down. 
From 2007, the American Pain Society and American College of Physicians published guidelines, suggesting chronic low back pain patients try acupuncture. In addition, 51 percent of medical doctors believe acupuncture to be effective and valuable.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is very safe. The Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine regulates acupuncture practice and licensure. It requires licensed acupuncturists to complete a minimum of three years of Master’s level training and pass national certification exams for acupuncture administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
One of these exams covers medical safety issues relating to acupuncture.
All needles are from sterilized packages, disposable and single-use only.
Acupuncturists receive extensive training in human anatomy, as well as specific areas, angles and depths of insertion.

Are there any side effects to acupuncture?

Other than possible bruising, there are rarely any side effects.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are about as thick as a facial whisker, so virtually pain-free once the insertion is complete.
After insertion, the practitioner brings the needle to the appropriate depth. Each person feels a unique sensation, ranging from tingling to heaviness to warmth, or nothing at all. If you experience discomfort, inform your acupuncturist who will then adjust the needles accordingly.

Where do the needles go?

This depends on the condition treated. Acupuncture points are located over the entire body.  In many cases, needles are inserted on the extremities from the elbows down to the fingers, and from the knees down to the toes. Other common areas include abdomen, back and ears.

How often are the treatments?

This depends on the condition treated.
Chronic illness may require longer term treatment.
Acute conditions may be resolved over a short period with frequent treatments.
The course of treatment is determined on the first visit and reevaluated during each follow-up visit.

How can I prepare for my session?

One hour before your session, eat a light meal and drink some water. This reduces the risk of weakness or dizziness after the session.
Ideally, you should wear shorts or loose clothing so that the practitioner can access your elbows, knees, abdomen and back.
After the session, for the rest of the day you should avoid strenuous activity, alcohol, smoking and greasy, heavy meals. This maximizes the effects of the treatment.
Make sure you drink water after the session and for the rest of the day.

Can I receive acupuncture if I am pregnant?

Yes. Certain acupuncture points are contraindicated during pregnancy, and the practitioner is trained to avoid them.
It is important to inform your practitioner if you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant.