Do acupuncture needles hurt?

Most people barely feel a thing when acupuncture needles are inserted. Some people feel a slight pinch, and others ask “Is it in yet?”  Hypodermic needles are necessarily larger in diameter, hollow, and rigid so that substances may be withdrawn from or injected into the body.  Acupuncture needles are sterile, solid, hair thin, and flexible.

There are certain sensations associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture, which are known as de qi (pronounced “duh-chee”). These may include slight cramping, heaviness, distention, warmth or coolness traveling along a meridian.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe.  Very few medical arts have evolved over the course of thousands of years and not only still remain in wide spread practice but has adapted to treat modern conditions and diseases.

Acupuncture needles are extremely safe, because they are single use, pre-sterilized, individually packaged, and disposable. Every licensed practitioner must complete 4050 hours of post-graduate professional training and pass a State approved licensing examination before they can practice acupuncture.  Certified acupuncturists receive only 300 hours of instruction as compared to licensed acupuncturists.

Do I have to believe in it for it to work? Does acupuncture always work?

Like biomedicine, faith is not a requirement for efficacy.  Research has shown that acupuncture ALWAYS produces a change in the body.  The specifics of the change(s) depend on the nature of condition treated, the severity of the condition, and your constitution.

What Should I Expect On My First Visit?

All treatments begin with a proper survey of your health condition  which take place during your first visit.  Plan on spending about 2 hours to allow for a complete picture of your health and lifestyle including your emotional state, and specific symptoms you may have. The exam will include tongue and pulse examination whereby your body will provide us with clues regarding the underlying condition.

Your first visit (with pattern differentiation) may last from an hour and a half, and end with an acupuncture treatment lasting another 30-60 minutes.  The length of your subsequent visits will depend upon what treatment is best for you.

How often would I need to come in for treatment?

Typically acupuncture treatments are given once a week. If the condition is acute and painful, treatments may be given 2-3 times per week until the condition starts to come under control. The exact duration of treatment depends on the condition, your basic level of health, and how well you respond to acupuncture.

How does acupuncture work?

In both biomedicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is the state of homeostasis where all bodily functions are in harmony.  Unlike biomedicine, TCM uses acupuncture to activate the body’s natural pain control and healing mechanisms.

Current research has demonstrated that the human body is a complex bioelectric system. Energy or Qi is believed to circulate throughout the body along 14 well-defined energy pathways or meridians. A disturbance in the smooth flow of Qi manifests as pain and disease.  Basically, if you have a health condition, some part of your body’s system is out of whack.  TCM allows us to diagnose the imbalance… and balance it.

A good example of this is the use of acupuncture to induce labor. One of the first things that TCM students learn is that there are a few points that are absolutely forbidden to use with pregnant women. These points cause the release of oxytocin, which is the hormone that naturally induces labor. Studies have shown that using acupuncture to induce labor reduces the active (painful) phase of labor by an average of 3.6 hours.

Does insurance cover acupuncture?

Some insurers cover acupuncture. You can usually find out by calling the number on your insurance card. We can provide a “superbill” that provides all the information you need to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. It is a standardized form which insurers expect.  We can also provide statements as needed for those with Flexible Medical Spending Plans.


 “I’ve known Mary for many years and know she is dedicated to helping people. She pays attention to detail and strives to do her best.”

Tom W.,  Ithaca, NY