Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture began to be recognized in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery.

Acupuncture is a complex branch of ancient Chinese medicine, but its practical principles and methods are easily understood. There are 14 major energy channels called meridians which course through the human body. A subtle energy called Qi (pronounced chee) circulates via these meridians, reaching even the most remote cells. The balanced and unimpeded flow of Qi is critical to sound health. Any misdirection, blockage or other derangement of the amount, flow or balance of Qi results in pain, dysfunction and ill health. Primarily using acupuncture needles, the acupuncturist stimulates certain points (acupoints) along the course of the meridians. Such stimulation helps restore the normal balance and flow of Qi so that the body can repair itself and maintain its own health.

The main objectives of acupuncture are:

  1. Relieve pain and other symptoms.
  2. Strengthen the immune system.
  3. Balance, harmonize and integrate the functions of the organs with each other, making for a unified, healthy person.

Acupuncture is universally accepted and is utilized in hospitals, doctors’ offices (medical, dental, chiropractic), wellness centers and rehabilitation centers. Acupuncturists in Massachusetts are licensed directly by the state Medical Board.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are very different from hollow hypodermic needles used for injections. They are solid, hair-thin and flexible. Most people feel minimal or no pain as the needles are inserted. There are certain sensations associated with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture. These may include slight cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling or electric sensation traveling along a meridian. If any discomfort is experienced, it is usually mild. Some people are energized during treatment, while others feel relaxed.

Is acupuncture safe?

The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles always be used and that they are labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used.

How does acupuncture work?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: Yin and Yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive principle; while Yang represents the hot, excited or active principle. Among the major assumptions in TCM are that health is achieved by maintaining the body in a "balanced state" and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of Yin and Yang.

It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature.

How much will acupuncture cost?

The prices for treatment at Acupuncture Solutions are as follows:

Will it be covered by my insurance?

There are many different insurance companies in Massachusetts each of which has numerous policies. Acupuncture Solutions does not bill insurance companies directly. Payment is due at the time of treatment and then we will provide a Super Bill for treatments which includes diagnostic and all pertinent medical coding which patients can submit to their insurance companies for reimbursement.

What should I expect during my first visit?

Similar to a traditional medical office, when patients arrive for their first acupuncture appointment there will be forms to fill out. Upon entering the treatment room, the acupuncturist will conduct an in-depth interview including a full medical history. Next the practitioner will examine the patient’s pulses and tongue – both of which reveal information as to how the internal organs are functioning. A physical exam follows allowing the acupuncturist to examine areas of pain, conduct orthopedic tests and assess problem areas. Once all of this information is gathered, the acupuncturist will make a diagnosis and design a treatment plan, including the locations where needles will be inserted. Sterile acupuncture needles are fine and flexible, no thicker than a piece of thread. Deftly inserted into an acupoint by a skilled acupuncturist, the slender needle produces little or no sensation. When the needle makes contact with Qi, the energy flowing through the meridians, most patients experience a slight tingling sensation. First time patients are usually amazed at how comfortable they feel during a treatment. Once the needles are inserted, the patient will relax on the treatment table for 20-60 minutes depending upon the condition being treated.

How many treatments are necessary?

The nature, severity and history of each individual's complaint, as well as the individual himself or herself, determine the number of treatments necessary. From five to fifteen treatments are generally adequate for the majority of chronic complaints. Many acute conditions may only require a single treatment and some degenerative conditions may require scores of treatments. The primary focus of Traditional Chinese Medicine is on correcting the underlying cause of illness and thus producing a lasting cure. Symptoms can often be relieved in a relatively small number of treatments; however, the curing of illness itself is a much longer process.

What can I expect after a treatment?

Dramatic results are unusual after a single treatment. Most patients will experience a gradual relief of their symptoms or improvement of well-being over the course of therapy (days and weeks). In general, improved outcome can be expected if herbs are used in addition to acupuncture.