What happens during an acupuncture treatment?

An appointment takes about an hour.  We will discuss your history and the condition for which you are seeking treatment.  The patient disrobes appropriately for the condition being treated (gowns are provided) and lays on a comfortable treatment table  -  muscles, reflex points and acupuncture meridians are examined, acupuncture needles are inserted in strategic locations and stimulated appropriately.  The needles stay in place for about 20 minutes while the patient relaxes on the treatment table.

How is an Acupuncture Physical Medicine exam and treatment different from other styles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture Physical Medicine assessment of a patient focuses on palpating the body for myofascial / muscular constrictions, which are referred to as “Holding Patterns” (palpation means to examine and gather information by touch). Then we set about to release the holding patterns.  Think of a Holding Pattern as the sum total of dysfunctionally spasmed, rigid musculature in the body.  structure and function

Central to classical Osteopathic Medicine is the idea that structure influences function.  When structure is "off", then function is impaired, and, conversely when function is "off", it can be a sign that structure is compromised.  A practitioner of Acupuncture Physical Medicine thinks in a kindred way.  In APM, we influence structure by releasing tight, spasmed muscles back to their natural state.  Myofascial constriction and taut muscles exert force on joints, tendons, and the nervous system and can refer pain and dysfunction to related areas in the body.  In addition to traditional acupuncture techniques, the APM trained acupuncturist quickly and efficienty frees up constriction in the body to optimize function and minimize pain.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are thin, flexible fibers – nothing like the experience of medical needles, which have an entirely different purpose and design.  The insertion of acupuncture needles is generally painless, or one might feel a slight pinch. The insertion may be followed by a sensation of heaviness, tingling, or slight ache.  Points used for releasing tight muscles may feel a momentary ache followed by a twitch (which represents the muscle ‘letting go’ back to resting length).  The sensations are harmless and are a sign that the treatment is having an effect. I routinely treat myself with acupuncture.

The clinic uses individually packaged, sterilized, single use, disposable needles.


What is a course of treatment like?

A typical acupuncture treatment plan is to treat once or twice weekly for four to six weeks and then re-evaluate.  Chronic conditions may require more treatments.  A treatment plan of 2 – 3 treatments a week initially may be appropriate for certain conditions followed by fewer treatments over time.

Acupuncture is not surgery or faith healing – chronic conditions that have been 5, 10 or even 20 years in the making are not going to be solved overnight.  Anybody who says differently is selling snake oil.  If your problem is your life, then it only makes sense that you will have to make changes to your lifestyle as well.

However, a simple tennis elbow or an aching shoulder from last weeks game of golf (or house painting) may very well clear up in one or two treatments.   A simple whiplash from a sports injury or car accident may also resolve relatively quickly.  No two injuries or responses are identical  – everybody and every body is different.  Feel free to contact me with questions.


Do I have to keep coming back over and over (until I’m broke) to get results?

If your condition is one that I think will not respond to acupuncture, I will tell you so.  I have no interest in wasting a patient's time or my own for the sake of collecting a fee.  It’s bad karma and ultimately a counter-productive way to practice.  After working at the Cleveland Clinic for six years with literally hundreds of physicians, physical therapists and other health professionals, I’ve become adept at appropriately referring patients to physicians or other practitioners.  It’s humbling to be a patient and I do my best to treat people the way I’d want to be treated. 

In New York, it’s the law for acupuncturists to advise patients to get checked out by a medical doctor for their condition.  Knowledge is power and an educated patient is the best patient.