Tag Archives: acupuncture tips

How Acupuncture Shines

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

The use of acupuncture for health conditions beyond muscle and joint pain (i.e. knee pain, neck pain, lower back pain, etc.) isn’t widely known by many people, yet acupuncture is exceptionally effective for so much more.  I do not at all wish to discount the fact that pain is miserable and that acupuncture is typically an excellent treatment for most types of the aforementioned conditions, but for the purposes of this article I would like to discuss broader applications of acupuncture.  As I have progressed in my career as a community acupuncturist, I’m happy to say that I’ve witnessed many examples of the power of acupuncture in people’s lives.  I want to share this information with you, because you ought to know that acupuncture is a viable treatment option for many health conditions.

For this article I am relying on my own clinical observations.  I have been in practice since 2007 and I estimate that I’ve given roughly 43,000 treatments in this time.  The vast majority (I would estimate 80% or more) of patients I have treated with the following conditions have reported substantial improvement with acupuncture (substantial improvement meaning greatly reduced severity and/or greatly reduced frequency of episodes for chronic conditions, and complete recovery for acute conditions).  These conditions are ones I feel very confident about treating with good success following a suggested course of treatments, which I will get into later:

  • Allergic Rhinitis & Sinusitis
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Headaches
  • Hives (Urticaria)
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathy
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Stress
  • TMJ Dysfunction

There are many other conditions which I would estimate have closer to a 50% success rate with acupuncture treatments (meaning about 50% of people experience significant results from acupuncture, and 50% experience a little improvement or no change), so in my opinion it’s definitely worth giving acupuncture a try.  Many of these conditions have fairly complex underlying causes, which contributes to the fact that there’s less consistency in achieving good results.  Some of these conditions have higher success rates with Chinese herbal medicine in addition to acupuncture rather than acupuncture alone (i.e. gastrointestinal problems and menstrual irregularities).  These conditions with approximately 50% success rates include, but are not limited to:

  • Breech Baby (turn a baby in breech position to be head down)
  • Constipation
  • COPD
  • Depression
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Gastritis
  • GERD/Acid Reflux/Heartburn
  • Herpes
  • Hypertension (particularly borderline hypertension)
  • Infertility
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s Disease)
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Irregular and/or painful menstruation
  • Nausea
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Smoking cessation
  • Vertigo

Finally, there are many neurological conditions, chronic illnesses and subclinical diseases in which acupuncture can be used as an effective support for reduction of severity and management, such as, but not limited to:

  • Autoimmune/Rheumatic diseases
  • Cancer support
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Heart Arrhythmias
  • Immune Support (i.e. for prevention of common colds, urinary tract infections, etc.)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Before I go on to discuss treatment frequency, I want to point out that acupuncture can be used for all of the above health conditions and more, but it is imperative that there also be physician involvement particularly for more serious or potentially life threatening health conditions (i.e. heart disease, COPD, cancer, etc.).  For example, if you want to use acupuncture as a way to manage borderline hypertension, it is important to be regularly checking your blood pressure and checking in with your primary care physician (many doctors encourage their patients to try acupuncture and other diet/lifestyle changes for the management of borderline hypertension before going on medications).

As mentioned previously, an important part of achieving good results with acupuncture for any health condition relies on the adherence to an appropriate course of treatments.  Typically when a patient first comes to our office to address a health condition we assess the severity of the condition and how long it has been present, and then recommend a course of treatments. Acupuncture isn’t a quick fix, but more of a process; however, for most people the acupuncture experience is very relaxing and enjoyable, and people often notice additional benefits as a result of acupuncture such as improved sleep, improved mood and an overall sense of well-being, even when that wasn’t an original goal of treatment.

Oftentimes we will suggest 1, 2 or 3 treatments per week (depending on the severity of the condition) for a total of 6 to 9 treatments at that rate, then continue with less frequent treatments once there are good results lasting from treatment to treatment.  Some conditions will resolve in that time (perhaps with a total of 10-15 treatments altogether, or less treatments for a condition that hasn’t been problematic for very long before trying acupuncture).  Chronic conditions/illnesses typically require some level of maintenance for sustained relief.  Once our patients have completed an initial suggested course of treatments (i.e. 6-9 treatments) we encourage them to experiment with the frequency of treatments to find a routine that feels right for them.  Many of our patients who have chronic pain or other chronic health conditions will come in once every 1-2 weeks, and/or more often if they have a flare-up and less often when they’re feeling well.  We can always offer a recommendation for frequency of treatments to anyone who asks, but we also like to offer our patients a sense of autonomy so that they can feel free to do what works for them, listen to their bodies and get in for treatments when they feel they’re in need.

In conclusion, it’s helpful to remember that acupuncture is useful for a wide variety of health conditions, is safe and without side-effects, so when (non life-threatening) health conditions crop up, it’s often worth a try.

5 Community Acupuncture Tips

Whether you’re new to community acupuncture or an experienced recliner, we’d love to share some helpful community acupuncture tips to make your experience the best it can be:

  1. MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE:  Acupuncture T 2016-326You’ll be resting and relaxing in a recliner chair for 30 minutes or more.  Please make yourself comfortable before we get started.  Being uncomfortable is counterproductive, so get yourself into a position that feels good.  Some people simply sit in a chair and are ready to go.  Others like to grab a pillow to put under their knees or a towel to roll behind their necks; feel free to help yourself to either or both.  Enjoy our quiet mellow music, or, if you prefer, you can help yourself to some earplugs if you want silence or bring in your own headphones and listen to your own music, podcast or guided meditation.
  2. 30 MINUTES IS ALL YOU NEED:  We know that many people have very busy lives and it can be hard to find the time for everything, including acupuncture.  Did you know that just 30 minutes is all you need?  While you’re welcome to stay longer, space and closing time permitting, 30 minutes is enough time to get the maximum benefit from acupuncture.  If you need to leave at a certain time, please let us know and we’ll be back to remove your needles at that time.  Get in, get acupuncture and get out!
  3. FEEDBACK IS HELPFUL: We’ll be asking you how you feel at each acupuncture treatments so that we know how you’ve responded to prior treatments and have a good sense of your overall progress.  Let us know what has changed and what hasn’t, or if there’s something new that you’d like us to treat.  Loved your last treatment?  Let your acupuncturist know and we’ll repeat it!  Does everything feel comfortable when your needles are inserted?  If not, please tell us so that we can fix it and you can relax.  We want to be sure that you enjoy your time being treated and experience good results.  Your feedback will help your acupuncturist craft more effective treatments.
  4. QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR PROGRESS? ASK US!:  As you make progress in reducing the severity of your main health concerns you may be ready to reduce the frequency of your treatments.  If you arrive for an acupuncture follow-up with a new health concern you may need to adjust the frequency of treatments to address it properly.  If at any time you’re not sure how frequently to be treated, please ask an acupuncturist.  You’re welcome to speak with us anytime you have an acupuncture follow-up, but if you’d like to talk a bit more in-depth about your progress or about new health concerns you can schedule an acupuncture with re-evaluation appointment.  We also have handy “How Often Should I Get Acupuncture?” charts available in the reception area and treatment room, so help yourself anytime for more info and detailed recommendations.
  5. ACUPUNCTURE MAINTENANCE:  Feeling great?  Keep it that way!  Once your health conditions have improved you can get acupuncture 2-4 times per month or as needed for maintenance.  Make wellness treatments a part of your healthy self-care routine.
    Here are some benefits of maintenance acupuncture:Acupuncture T 2016-225
    -Reduce stress and anxiety
    -Improve sleep
    -Increase your energy
    -Boost your immune system
    -Keep aches and pains under control

We always aim to provide the best possible care and strive to make acupuncture work for you.