Contemporary Acupuncture

Contemporary Acupuncture's main difference with Traditional Chinese Medicine is that diagnosis and treatments are based on a "Western Medicine" paradigm. One does not have to "believe" in meridians or channels, or have any understanding of yin and yang for it to be effective.  Instead of relying concepts of excesses and deficiencies of energy in making the diagnosis, a Contemporary Acupuncturist relies on a history and in depth physical exam. Treatment planning is based on neuroanatomy.

Many people want to know how acupuncture "works."  Current scientific research has demonstrated a number of mechanisms.  An early response to acupuncture is the release of chemicals in the brain that work as pain killers.  Many people report a feeling of relaxation and well being after an acupuncture session that is probably due to these neurochemicals.  Another mechanism is called "neuromodulation."  This means that the tiny injury induced by the needle causes the nervous system function to change.  

Frequently asked questions:

1.  What conditions can acupuncture be used for?
    Acupuncture is frequently successful in treating low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, arthritic pain, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, myofascial pain, migraine, tension headache, trigeminal neuralgia, TMJ pain, pain from shingles, menstrual cramps, irritable bowel, asthma, allergic conditions, anxiety, gastritis, reflux, and many other conditions.  Acupuncture is fantastic for sports injuries.

2.  Can acupuncture help me?
    Like any other medical treatment, the results of acupuncture will not be known until after it is done.  There is a tremendous individual difference of response to acupuncture from patient to patient.  In the most studies, most patients have a measurable response to acupucnture, frequently a better response when compared to standard drug treatment. 

3.  How many treatments will I need?
    For some conditions, like sport injuries, frequently significant improvement is seen after one treatment.  For chronic conditions, some sustained improvement should be seen after the third or fourth treatment.  Maximal improvement for chronic conditions is usually seen after eight treatments. Remember, medicine is not a spectator sport. You will need to participate in your own care by doing recommended exercises, dietary changes and other possible interventions. 

4. How often will I need a treatment?
    Initially, at least once or twice per week is optimal.  As you improve, the treatments can be spread out.  Eventually, most patients get treatment only as needed.

5.  Does acupuncture hurt?
    Most patients are surprised that it doesn't hurt!  Some times you will feel a slight prick, then a dull, deep ache that actually feels good.  Occasionally a needle is uncomfortable. In this case the needle is promptly repositioned. 

6.  Will my pain get worse after acupuncture?
       Usually not, but some patients experience an increase in soreness that evolves into relief over 12-24 hours. 

7.  What about bleeding?
    About one in every ten needle insertions results in bleeding requiring application of a q-tip for 3 seconds.  Bruising can occasionally occur.

8.  Can I get an infection from the needles?
    Infection from acupuncture in the United States is exceedingly rare.  Only sterile, single use, disposable needles are used. 

9.  What should I do after my treatment?
    Normal activity is fine. Many patients feel sleepy after a treatment, so a nap is nice.

10.  Can I throw away my pills after I get acupuncture?
    Depends on why you are taking the pills.  Pain medications can usually be decreased then discontinued. Acupuncture will not cure diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or cancer.  Dr. Hallinen will be happy to discuss your medications in detail and
will be happy to discuss any change in your therapy with your primary care provider.

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Diane Hallinen,
Jan 27, 2009, 11:53 AM