Acupuncture has been around for somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 years, depending on what you read. At the most simplistic level, acupuncture is inserting fine needles into certain points of the body, and there are hundreds of them. Your body is composed of many meridians or channels, but it is really one large circuit in which one channel affects another. During an acupuncture treatment, you can expect that you will receive somewhere between 10 and 20 needles, but every acupuncturist has his or her own specific styles or techniques. It is not painful; in fact, the needles are very, very thin. Most patients are actually surprised that it is not painful at all. In certain cases you might experience a little bit of throbbing, but generally most patients find it very relaxing. So in general, treatment, which refers to the actual insertion of the needles, will last between 20 and 30 minutes. So in my practice, first time patients will meet with me for 1.5 to two hours because we go through a full medical history and we do a structural analysis depending on presenting concerns – it is really a detailed consultation. Then, you will have needles inserted for 20 to 30 minutes and afterwards you should feel very relaxed and experience some alleviation from whatever the presenting issue might be, assuming that it’s pain.
What is Acupuncture?
The single most important thing about acupuncture is that it is a medical system. Acupuncture is one of the five branches of Eastern Medicine. The five branches include nutrition, herbs, exercise (Qigong or Chi gong), massage or bodywork (TuiNa) and finally acupuncture. In certain parts of Asia acupuncture is the primary medical system. I think this is important because in the west acupuncture is referenced as an alternative medicine. In other areas of the world acupuncture is the primary medicine. Whether a person chooses eastern medicine or western medicine it is important to understand that each one has its time and place. Educating the patient about the different options allows them to choose which path is best.
The second most important thing to note about acupuncture is that it has been in existence (depending on what you read) anywhere between 2000 and 5000 years. I think this is a very important thing to mention because it is not something that was just “invented.”
Lastly, acupuncture is not going to cure a person. The main purpose for acupuncture is to restore the body’s balance so that the body can cure itself
Selecting the right acupuncturist:
The most important consideration when selecting an acupuncturist is your level of comfort when dealing with the practitioner. I have had countless patients come to my office and say that their main reason for switching acupuncturists was that they “just didn’t feel comfortable” with the practitioner they were working with.
Before scheduling an appointment with a patient I have a 10 to 15 minute conversation on the phone. During this discussion we talk about the patients concerns and we discuss how acupuncture can benefit the patient. This gives us an opportunity to get to know one another before coming into my office. I have found this to be extremely effective to having a patient feel more comfortable about receiving acupuncture treatment. I encourage everyone when selecting an acupuncturist to have an initial conversation to make sure that this is the right acupuncturist for you.
There are some basic educational requirements for certification and or licensure. All practitioners of acupuncture are certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This certification requires extensive training in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some states require additional certifications. In NJ I am certified by the Medical Examiner’s office.
Educational Requirement: Minimum three years: 1905 hours of study
Oriental medicine and acupuncture theory: 705 hours
Clinic experience: 660 hours
Biomedicine Study: 450 hours
Counseling, communication, ethics and practice management: 90 hours