How to Choose the Right Acupuncturist
Looking for an acupuncturist may not be a difficult task but the question is, how to look for the RIGHT one for you. The easiest way is to ask for the recommendation from your friends and family who have had a positive experience. Sometimes, it’s even better if your primary care or other healthcare providers can point you in the right direction. Acupuncturists often co-manage their patients with other providers, such as primary care physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists who would know which acupuncturist may be the best for you. Here we have listed some points to help find the right acupuncturist for you.
1. Where did they receive their training?
It’s important to find out where your acupuncturist attended the training. In the US Most acupuncture schools/colleges are nationally accredited through agencies like ACAOM. There are specific coursework and clinical training hours required to complete the program which usually takes 3.5 to 4 years. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the main body which provides the licensure examinations for acupuncture school graduates from the ACAOM accredited schools. Make sure your acupuncturist has passed the NCCAOM examination and hold an active State license from the Department of Health. In some States, certain health care professionals may perform acupuncture such as MD, Chiropractor even Physical Therapists (dry needling) with minimal training, just be aware.
2. Do they have a specialization you need?
Every acupuncturist may have different specialization due to the background and training. Some may specialize in sports medicine, pediatrics, fertility, geriatrics and so forth. Even Chinese Medicine focuses on the whole body, therefore a good acupuncturist should be able to treat a wide array of conditions. Nonetheless, if you have a particular medical concern, it is recommended to seek a provider who knows how to help you. Don’t be shy, always ask the acupuncturist or their staff if they specialize in certain areas before you make the appointment.
3. Do they offer a FREE initial consultation?
Just think of dating, you will want to know more about this person before you go on a date. A good acupuncture clinic should be able to offer a free consultation where you can discuss your medical complaint, fee schedule, insurance billing information and so on. It’s also a good chance to ask them about their credentials, training and specialization. Also pay attention to the office if it’s clean, comfortable and staffs are helpful.
4. Do they offer herbal medicine?
Many acupuncturist’s offices do not have the capacity to hold a complete herbal dispensary due to limited space. However Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective in improving the clinical outcome. Ask if your acupuncturist if he or she is trained in herbal medicine. Here at 1st Choice Acupuncture, we have a complete raw and granule herbal medicine pharmacy to tailor to each individual’s need so every one receives a customized herbal formula to help them achieve the best result in a short time.
5. Does the acupuncturist seems to carry good energy?
The reason why you are looking for an acupuncturist is that you are looking for a solution that addresses your medical concerns. Your acupuncturist should look healthy to you when you see him or her in the office. We really like the term “health care practitioner” because we don’t just provide treatments, we ‘practice’ our medicine on ourselves to keep healthy, so we have the best energy possible to provide treatment to our patients. Our practitioners practice Qigong which is an ancient form of energy medicine originated in China to ensure our energy stays positive and strong.
Acupuncture Frequently Asked Questions
How safe is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is extremely safe with very little to no known side effect. Occasionally one may find a little bruise on the skin after treatment but in general, acupuncture doesn’t cause much more than that. Needles used in our clinic are pre-sterilized, disposable stainless acupuncture needles. A well-trained acupuncturist knows where to place needles and how far and what angle to insert on each site to avoid any injury.
Are there any side effects to Acupuncture?
One of the many benefits about acupuncture is that there’s almost no side effect besides the occasional bruises. However, we generally advise our patients to eat before they come in for a session. Low blood sugar may cause lightheadedness during or after the acupuncture treatment.
Does Acupuncture hurt?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Acupuncture needles are in general hair-thin and virtually painless when going through the skin. Mild sensation may be felt when the needle reaches a certain level. For those who are extremely sensitive to the needles, be sure to ask for a smaller gauge of acupuncture needles such as Japanese Serin brand to minimize the sensation. In our clinic we not only have this type of acupuncture needles for needle-sensitive individuals, we also have laser acupuncture for those who may prefer a non-needle treatment such as children under the age of 10.
Where do the needles go?
Although there are thousands of acupuncture points or acupoints for short throughout the body, during each session 10-20 point may be selected for the medical conditions being treated. Common areas where needles are placed including but not limited to arms, legs and sometimes abdomen and back. Occasionally ears and scalp may be needled as well.
What are the acupoints?
Just think of acupoints like points on a spider web where two or more threads are in contact with one another. Upon stimulation, the whole spider web is affected. According to the Chinese Medicine theory, acupoints are points along meridians (energic pathways) in our body. By stimulating the point we are influencing the meridian to initiate the healing process.
What can I expect during a treatment?
During your initial visit, the acupuncturist will collect a complete medical history and a detailed evaluation of your condition. During the intake, pulse diagnosis, auricular (ear) and tongue examination will be performed. Occasional manual palpation along the specific meridian may also be performed. The whole process may take up to half an hour to 45 minutes depending on the complexity of the medical complaints, followed by acupuncture treatment. The whole visit will take up to 1 1/2 hours. All follow up treatments will be 30-45 minutes.
What conditions are treated with acupuncture?
- Chronic pain
- Digestive disorders
- Weak immunity
- Menstrual cramps
- Menopausal symptoms
- Stress management
How often do I have to come?
From our experiences in general, it is best to come in twice a week for 2-3 weeks to stabilize the condition, then once a week thereafter. Acupuncture treatment works on momentum, therefore the more the initial treatment the shorter course of treatment is needed. There are cases where we would ask patients to come in daily such as the pregnant moms who are overdue, or acute stroke or facial paralysis.
How can I prepare for my session?
Most importantly be sure to eat a light meal before coming to the session. Do not come in on an empty stomach because lightheaded may happen during the session. Acupuncture is a very powerful energy medicine which utilizes the body’s inner energy. If a person is already running on low blood sugar then too much energy used in the session can make a person feeling very tired and even weak afterward. It is highly recommended to wear something comfortable and loose so when needed the pants or sleeves can roll up.
Can I receive Acupuncture if I am pregnant?
Yes. Here at 1st Choice Acupuncture, we specialize in fertility support, pregnancy support, and postpartum recovery. Acupuncture is very helpful during the pregnancy. During the 1st Trimester, acupuncture can ease down the morning sickness while supporting the hormone to prevent spontaneous miscarriage. During the second trimester and third, acupuncture can help to reduce the lower back pain, correcting the breech presentation, as well as assisting the uterine contraction in the case of overdue.