Common Questions And Guidance For New Patients
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been the primary source of healthcare in Asia for over 2,000 years and has helped billions of people maintain vitality. This system of healthcare is based on the principle that to be healthy, tissues and organs need proper supply of blood and the nutrients and oxygen that blood carries. Hundreds of points have been mapped out on the body where a blockage can occur. A trained acupuncturist finds and releases the blockage that is halting the flow of blood and oxygen from reaching the cells, organs and tissue.
Modern technology has shown that these points are often found at neuromuscular junctions of tiny vessels and nerves within muscles and connective tissue. Using these areas, we can tap into the body’s immune response, stimulating natural painkillers and increase blood flow.
An acupuncturist assesses a patient’s pattern of disharmony (health concern) by using a set of diagnostic skills that involve questioning, palpation and visual inspection. By analyzing the signs and symptoms, the acupuncturist determines the necessary treatment strategy and therapy to begin the healing process.
These therapeutic interventions include acupuncture (also called dry needling), electro-acupuncture, cupping, manual therapies such as acupressure, moxibustion, Guasha and exercises, such as TaiChi or Qigong, as well as supplement recommendations and dietary therapy.
What Does Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture promotes wellness and can assist in the healing of many disorders. Although many patients see an acupuncturist for pain management there are many conditions that are alleviated by acupuncture and Asian medical therapies. Acupuncture is appropriate for any age.
The National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization recognizes the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of 43 common disorders, including:
Gastrointestinal disorders such as peptic ulcers, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, and gastritis;
Urogenital disorders including stress incontinence, urinary tract infection, and sexual dysfunction in men and women;
Gynecological and Reproductive disorders of irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, infertility in women and men, and premenstrual syndrome;
Respiratory disorders such as emphysema, sinusitis, asthma, allergies, and bronchitis;
Disorders of the bone, muscles, joints, and nervous system like arthritis, migraine, headaches, neuralgia, fibromyalgia, insomnia, dizziness, back, neck, and shoulder pain, and chronic pain syndromes;
Circulatory disorders such as angina pectoris, hypertension, and anemia;
Emotional and Psychological disorders including depression and anxiety;
Addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and drugs;
Supportive therapy that relieves the unpleasant side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture promotes blood flow. Everything the body needs to heal is in the blood, including oxygen, nutrients we absorb from food, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. For example, if blood flow is diminished by as little as 3% in the breast area, cancer may develop. Blood flow decreases as we age and can be impacted by trauma, injuries and certain diseases. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow and vasodilation.
Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms. Acupuncture creates “micro traumas” that stimulate the body’s ability to spontaneously heal injuries to the tissue through nervous, immune and endocrine system activation. As the body heals the micro traumas induced by acupuncture, it also heals any surrounding tissue damage left over from old injuries.
Acupuncture releases natural painkillers. Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphin, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!
Acupuncture reduces both the intensity and perception of chronic pain. One theory is that the communication from a painful area to the brain is weakened over time from over-firing signals that lead to inflammation in local nerve fibers. To protect the rest of the body, the brain restricts blood flow to the area – further weakening the site and not providing the nutrients for healing to occur. The gentle insertion of needles at strategic points, stimulates these inflamed and weakened areas to signal the brain to release natural painkillers (enkephalins), while also increasing blood flow to the injury. This procedure will alleviate the chronic pain but must be repeated several times so that the nervous system can be stimulated and start healing and holding the treatments for longer periods of time.
Acupuncture relaxes painful, shortened muscles. This, also releases pressure on joint structures and nerves, and promotes blood flow.
Acupuncture reduces stress. This is perhaps the most important systemic effect of acupuncture. Recent research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways is the opposite of the sympathetic system. Recent research has implicated impaired parasympathetic function in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
What Happens During Acupuncture Treatment? Will It Hurt?
Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable sterile needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. With a soft touch, the needles cause little or no discomfort and are painless after placement. Occasionally, on insertion there may be a small pinch, a warming sensation, or tingle, that quickly dissipates.
Other modalities may be incorporated in your treatments, depending on your needs. Heat lamps are used to warm an area and promote blood flow. Cupping and Guasha are therapies that also focus treatment on pain to release restrictions to fascia (connective tissue) and to improve oxygen and blood flow to muscles. Ear seeds may be placed on your outer ear to continue treatment when you leave the office, as well as herbal liniments, supplements, lifestyle and dietary suggestions to further improve overall health and vitality.
People tend to enjoy their acupuncture sessions and report feeling deeply relaxed during and after treatment.
What Needles Are Used In Acupuncture?
Acupuncture needles are just a little thicker than a human hair. They are solid, not hollow like hypodermic needles, and are made of the highest quality surgical steel. Needles are pre-sterilized, used once and are then discarded in a sharps container.
How Are Acupuncturists Licensed And What Qualifications Does Healing Journey's Practitioners Have?
Megan is a licensed acupuncturist who graduated from the Won Institute of Graduate Studies with a Master’s degree (M.Ac.) in Acupuncture. This three year, comprehensive, full-time program concentrated on courses in Anatomy & Physiology, Biomedicine, Oriental Medical Theory, Diagnosis & Treatment, Disease Management & Prevention, Asian Bodywork, Counseling and Meditation.
Certified and licensed acupuncturists are also trained in medical history gathering, safety, ethics, common pharmaceuticals and supplements, and recognition of when to refer patients to other health care professionals or consult with other medical practitioners.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine designates the licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) status, which requires NCCAOM certification, a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and liability coverage to practice in PA.
Megan Conover, M.Ac., L.Ac.
Megan Conover is a National Board Certified Acupuncturist and licensed under the Pennsylvania Medical Board with a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture from The Won Institute of Graduate Studies. She is trained in pain management, autoimmune disorders, digestive issues, women’s health, fertility, mental health, and cosmetic acupuncture, to name a few.
Megan is continuing her path in East Asian Medicine and is currently enrolled in the Chinese Herbal program at the Won Institute. She has over 900 hours of clinical rotations and has worked in a Veteran’s clinic, in addition to an extensive list of speciality treatment courses. Megan brings a great deal of experience and passion to our practice.
Is Chinese Medicine Safe?
When practiced by a trained professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. Because the treatment does not involve the use of drugs, adverse side effects are typically unusual. However, there are certain conditions you should notify your practitioner about before undergoing treatment, such as hemophilia or if you have a pacemaker. A thorough patient intake is performed during the first visit in order to determine any concerns.
Do Acupuncturisits Work With Western Medicine?
Acupuncturists cooperate with physicians and do not make recommendations regarding medications. There are some conditions best treated by Western healthcare, and your acupuncturist may recommend that you visit a physician.
What Should I Expect At My First Visit?
In addition to bringing copies of any previous medical records and medications or supplements you are currently taking, we generally recommend that new patients wear loose fitting clothing that can easily slide up over the knees and elbows. Eating a light meal or snack approximately one hour before your appointment is recommended.
All new patients must complete a consent to treatment and patient health history. This questionnaire will include questions about you and your family’s medical history and your lifestyle. It is a good idea to bring with you any copies of previous tests, lab results and any medications or supplements you are currently taking.
The physical exam can include a detailed examination of the pulse and tongue to arrive at a working diagnosis. You will rest in a comfortable position during the treatment for 10 to 30 minutes
How Long Is Each Appointment?
Generally a new patient’s first visit will last between 60-90 minutes. We ask that all new patients arrive 15 minutes prior to their scheduled appointment to fill out the necessary paperwork, unless completed ahead of time by downloading the paperwork HERE. Subsequent appointments generally last between 45-60 minutes.
How Long Will It Take To See Results?
Acupuncture is a therapeutic process that gently shifts the body’s energy toward balance. Just like physical therapy or chiropractic protocols, acupuncture therapy can take time to restore this balance or heal injuries. As such, most health problems take more than one treatment to resolve. Expect to have 4-6 treatments before reassessment. Many problems may require ten or more treatments before significant benefits accrue. Along the way, though, you should see an overall improvement in your health as your main complaint improves as well.
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