Frequently Asked Questions

Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture is virtually painless. When receiving an acupuncture treatment you may experience a sensation of tingling or warmth. Most patients experience a state of deep relaxation or even fall asleep.

Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is extremely safe when performed by a qualified and licensed practitioner. Modern-day acupuncturist are thoroughly trained and only use tiny, sterile, single use disposable needles.

How many treatments will I need?
The frequency and number of treatments differ from person to person. Some people experience dramatic relief in the first treatment. For complex or long-standing chronic conditions, one to two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, usually eight to ten visits in total. An individualized treatment plan that includes the expected number of treatments will be discussed during your initial visit.

What should I expect during a treatment?
TCM practitioners use a variety of techniques to arrive at their diagnosis which include acquiring a complete patient medical history, palpating the abdomen and tender points along the body, feeling the pulse and looking at the tongue. This information enables a practitioner to diagnose the imbalances causing your symptoms.

During a typical treatment four to twenty tiny needles are inserted into specific points that may be dispersed throughout the body. These tiny needles remain in place for approximately 30 to 50 minutes.

Who can practice acupuncture and herbal medicine?
In order to receive a safe and effective treatment, it is important to see a licensed practitioner (L.Ac.). A licensed acupuncturist must complete a graduate program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (approx. 3000 hrs.) and pass the NCCAOM national board exams in Acupuncture and TCM diagnosis.

In the state of Iowa, some other medical practitioners may practice acupuncture with as little as 0 to 100 hours of training, which is clearly not a sufficient amount to ensure a proper diagnosis and safe treatment. It is also very important not to receive any herbal remedies from anyone who is not formally trained and licensed in herbology.

Is Dry Needling the same as acupuncture?
Within the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, dry needling and acupuncture overlap greatly in their origin, techniques and theories. Furthermore, dry needling is one subcategory of Western medical acupuncture, and is thus acupuncture.

In the U.S., a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM) is required to complete a 4 year doctoral degree and national board exams in order to practice acupuncture. A physiotherapist (P.T.) is not required to take any schooling in needling, nor are there any licensing or laws governing the practice of dry needling. The term, dry needling, was chosen by physiotherapist to circumvent state and national laws that govern needling and acupuncture.

Historically, dry needling is acupuncture. In China, especially in the East, the term dry needling (干 针, gan zhen in Chinese pin yin) has been a folk name for acupunc- ture since Western medicine arrived in China in the late 1800s, when the term of dry needling was created in order to differentiate it from the needles used for injections by Western trained doctors. Many people in China still refer to acu puncture as dry needling, especially after acupuncture point injection therapy and aquapuncture therapy were developed in China in the early 1950s.

Based on the traditional and official definition, the term acupuncture refers to the actual insertion of a needle (usually a solid needle) into the body, which describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are usually manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of TCM. Acupuncture is currently practiced internationally, and has attracted more and more interest in Western countries, especially in the US and the UK. Dry needling literally is acupuncture, although the term is more commonly used instead of acupuncture by physiotherapists in Western countries.

My doctor doesn’t believe in acupuncture. Do I have to believe to obtain results?
Not all medical doctors understand or are educated in the history, theory, or benefits of acupuncture. In fact, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs, cows, and cats, most of whom probably don’t “believe” in acupuncture. It is always beneficial to have confidence in your physician, but faith in a particular technique is not required to obtain results.