How to Choose the Right Acupuncturist
Looking for an acupuncturist may be a daunting experience for some people, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to look for. The best way to find a good acupuncturist is to ask your friends and family for the name of a practitioner they’ve had a good experience with. But if that’s not possible here are 3 important points to remember when interviewing an acupuncturist for the first time.
1. Where did they receive their training?
Make sure your acupuncturist attended a nationally accredited school. In states with strict licensing laws, acupuncturists must have completed four years of training and passed rigorous national and state board exams. But, in other states, less qualified people may legally practice.
Washington requires passage of the national certification exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) to be eligible for state licensure. NCCAOM specifically requires graduation from an ACAOM accredited or candidate program to be eligible to sit for NCCAOM’s certification exam(s).
2. Do they offer a FREE initial consultation?
Before scheduling the appointment, ask for a free consultation. You’ll want to discuss such details as rates for visits, insurance billing, and the practitioner’s appointment cancellation policy. Remember to make a list of questions before you call.
3. Do they have more than one treatment room?
An acupuncturist operating 2 or 3 treatment rooms instead of 1 has increased capacity and the flexibility to get you in on short notice. When you are in pain or have to get that much needed treatment, this alone can make the difference between getting in today or getting in next week.
4. Does the acupuncturist seems to carry good energy?
The reason why you are looking for an acupuncturist is because 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.
Acupuncture Frequently Asked Questions
How safe is Acupuncture?
No one has ever died from acupuncture applied by a trained and licensed practitioner. Not a bad track record when you consider that the medicine has been more than 3,000 years old. Needles generally cause no bleeding or pain, and the needles used are disposable. Acupuncturists are trained in exact location, angle as well as depth of insertion of the acupuncture needle to avoid any injuries.
Are there any side effects to Acupuncture?
One of the great advantages of acupuncture is that, other than an occasional bruise, there are no side effects.
Does Acupuncture hurt?
This is the most common question asked about acupuncture because many people associate needles with pain. Acupuncture needles are about the thickness of a dog’s whisker, so they are virtually painless when inserted. After insertion, the practitioner will bring the needle to the appropriate depth. You will then usually feel a very unique sensation that can vary from tingling, to heaviness, to warmth, or nothing at all. Each person’s experience is different. Should you experience any discomfort, inform the practitioner, and they will adjust the needles accordingly.
Where do the needles go?
This depends on the condition being treated. Although the acupoints are located throughout the entire body, usually the needles are placed on the extremities from your elbows down to your hands, and from your knees down to your feet. Other common areas include the abdomen, back, and ears.
What are the acupoints?
The acupoints are the areas along a vessel / vascular systems where there are higher concentrations of nerve endings. It can therefore be used to influence your body through the use of needles more easily.
The original Chinese word is “MAI” or the vessels. There are 18 major vessel systems in the body. Each of these is like a highway transporting blood and vital substances to its respective internal organ (Liver, Heart, Lung, Spleen, Kidney, etc.). When the blood or the flow in a meridian is not moving properly, it can, in turn, affect the proper functioning of the organs and cause imbalances throughout the body.
Are the needles sterile or are they reused?
Needles are individually wrapped and sterilized by the manufacturer. They are opened only when they are ready to be used, and afterwards, each needle is disposed of in a medical waste container.
What can I expect during a treatment?
During your first consultation, the practitioner will collect a complete history and detailed evaluation of your condition. They will ask questions relating to many different aspects of your life, not only the condition for which you are seeking treatment. The practitioner will then take your pulse, examine your tongue, and sometimes palpate your abdomen or check for tender areas along the meridians. The initial visit usually lasts 1 1/2 hours including the treatment. Subsequent visits usually last about 1 hour.
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?
Treatments are done on a weekly basis, usually twice a week for the first two weeks, and once a week thereafter. Once the condition has been controlled and you are symptom-free, the treatments are done less frequently. Problems that have been around for a long time usually take more treatments to resolve than ones that have come about recently. Your treatment course will be determined after the first visit and reassessed after each session.
How can I prepare for my session?
It is best to eat a light meal before your appointment so that you are not on an empty stomach. Sometimes a person who has not eaten will feel lightheaded or weak when receiving an acupuncture treatment. In this case, inform your practitioner immediately and they will take the appropriate actions. It is best to wear shorts or loose clothing so that the arms and legs below the elbows and knees, as well as the abdomen, are accessible. Do not engage in strenuous activity, drink alcohol, consume caffeine, smoke excessively, or ingest heavy meals before or after your treatment. This will allow the body to adjust to the effects of the acupuncture.
Can I receive Acupuncture if I am pregnant?
Yes. Because there are some points that are contraindicated during pregnancy, it is important to inform your practitioner if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.