Acupuncture 101

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a medical therapy developed over 2000 years ago in Asia. Acupuncture stimulates specific points beneath the skin by the insertion of acupuncture needles. This process restores the balance of the body’s energy, also knows as “Qi” (pronounced chi). Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Moxibustion are some of the essential elements of Traditional Asian Medicine.  The following concepts are fundamental in Asian medicine and should always be considered in the beginning steps of comprehending it: Qi is the commander of Blood; when Qi moves, Blood moves.  Blood is the Mother of Qi; where Blood goes, Qi goes.

Will it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, usually made totally from stainless steel, some with plastic handles.   My personal and professional choice is the use of needles with handles of silver or copper, as they have an entirely different energy than that of steel.  And acupuncture is an energetic medicine – there are no chemicals nor medicines on the needles.  My chosen styles of acupuncture are usually without pain.  If I have chosen an acupoint to be used in a protocol which traditionally is known to have discomfort associated with it, I will use high-power magnets in place of needles or some other option which I know will be more comfortable than a needle.

Is it safe?

Acupuncture therapy has been used for thousands of years in Asia. It is the treatment of choice for one-fourth of the world’s population! The World Health Organization has assisted dozens of countries in the development of national medical plans using acupuncture because of the safety, efficacy and cost of treatments compared to Western medicine using prescription medicines and surgery.  The needles are FDA approved, individually packaged, pre-sterilized and disposed of after a single use.  We never re-use a needle!  And they are not recycled.

What should I expect for my first treatment?

After the first treatment has been administered, depending on the ailment being treated, many experiences may occur.  Immediate, total or partial relief from pain or other symptoms may be experienced.  Some patients experience a sudden burst of energy while others may feel extremely relaxed and sleep throughout their treatment. Many people experience a calming sensation or a tingle or a sense of energy moving.  Small, localized bruises from minor bleeding under the skin are very infrequent, but can occur. These is no cause for alarm,

How long do the treatments take?

In most situations treatments take between 20 and 30 minutes but can last longer.  The length of the treatment depends on the individual conditions of the patient and the methodology of your acupuncturist in any particular treatment.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

Many conditions may be treated. General pain relief and control for arthritis, cervical spondylopathy, knee pain, hand and foot pain, sciatica, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, back and neck pain, tendonitis, etc., are common reasons for patients to seek acupuncture.  Other conditions may include circulatory problems, high or low blood pressure, cold hands and feet. Nervous system imbalances such as anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness, depression, and respiratory complaints like asthma, allergies and sinus problems, and digestive disorders like Crohns Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, and constipation are readily addressed.  Other ailments commonly treated include headaches and migraines;  addressing addictions of smoking, drugs and other destructive habits are often a reason chosen to seek acupuncture.  Many times  a person is seeking help with fatigue or ‘just not feeling up to snuff’, there doesn’t have to be a name to it, only a description of it for me to find a way to assist my patient to improved health and happiness.  The fact  that acupuncture has been around thousands of years means almost any health issue has been addressed at  some point, and someone will have written it down for the benefit of today’s practitioners and patients.

How does acupuncture work?

In traditional Asian medicine, there exists a meridian system through the human body. In this system, invisible passageways for energy are called meridians. It looks something like a road map when  viewed on a chart.  There are certain points (more than 360) on these meridians which connect with certain organs and bodily functions. (Indeed, there are many hundreds more points that are not on the meridians.)  There are point categories that apply to a specific organ or function found along these same meridians.  When drawn on paper, the meridians can be likened to a road map on your body; I have pictures of them on my office walls.  In a healthy, normal functioning body, the energy in these meridians flows freely, resulting in a balanced system resulting in that  good health. When the flow of energy is interrupted from causes such as stress, illness or injury, this energy is restricted, throwing your “Qi” off balance and your Blood to stagnate, causing pain or poor health.  By performing acupuncture using the points associated with the particular condition involved, this Qi or balance is restored.

Are the needles clean?

Acupuncture needles are FDA approved. These needles are pre-sterilized and individually wrapped. After the needles are used, they are disposed of, as with any medical waste.  Again, they are not re-used nor recycled.

How many treatments will I need?

Since every person is unique in their own condition, the numbers of treatments will vary. The nature, severity and history of each patient’s problem, as well as the individual herself or himself, are all factors that are involved in how many treatments will be necessary.  You’ll see more on this in various locations throughout my website.  Historically, the practice of acupuncture begins at birth and continues periodically to the end of life.  It strengthens the immune system, thus improving and maintaining your health and lessens the likelihood of any illnesses befalling you along your life’s road.  So, I recommend monthly visits which include the five seasonal treatments; see more on this at the Seasonal Treatments page here within my website.

Are needles the only equipment involved?

I include the  use several techniques such as moxibustion, cupping, high powered magnets, gwasha, Manaka hammer and color therapy to help with my  patients’ treatments.  See my  Tools of the Trade page on this website.

Will it conflict with my other medications?

Acupuncture will not conflict with any of your medications. Acupuncture is used to complement and supplement any Western medical care.    Always tell your acupuncturist of any prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements and vitamins you take.  It is appropriate to tell your primary care physicians that you are receiving acupuncture treatment, but you do not need to have the permission of your physician to see an acupuncturist.

Patricia E Martin PLLC
Licensed Acupuncturist (AZ)
Doctor of Oriental Medicine (FL)
(602) 955-4242