Willow Tree Acupuncture
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Acupuncture FAQ

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 4,000 years ago, acupuncture is a method of encouraging one's body to heal naturally and improve it's function.  This is done by inserting needles into very precise, high energy acupuncture points.

How does acupuncture work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body.   When this energy becomes blocked, the result is pain, discomfort, or disease.  With acupuncture needles, the obstructions are cleared, allowing the energy to flow freely and returning an individual to a state of balance.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Is acupuncture safe?  Are there any side effects?
One of the many benefits of acupuncture is a very safe practice, with very few side effects.  All needles are sterilized, individually packaged and disposable.  We do not reuse acupuncture needles.  Most common post-treatment complaints are minor and short-lived, ranging from bruising to needle pain lasting less than a week.

What does acupuncture feel like?
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some patients feel a slight 'Qi' sensation when the needle is inserted. These 'Qi sensations' range from warmth or tingling, to a brief ache or heaviness in the area being needled. They indicate favorable results from the acupuncture treatment, as Qi has been strongly contacted. By and large patients describe these sensations as fleeting and the treatment experience as deeply relaxing.

How is Chinese herbal medicine different
 from western medicine?

Chinese herbal formulas tend to be much gentler than western medicine. They work to not only help relieve symptoms, but to help return the body to balance and equilibrium, so that herbs will not be needed further. As one’s body starts to shift towards a state of balance, herbs or formulas are modified accordingly.

How much training is involved for acupuncturists?

NCCAOM licensed acupuncturists receive over 3000 hours of training from an accredited school to become licensed.  They must also pass a three national examination to become NCCAOM certified.  Many other health professionals are able to receive only 100-200 hours of training in acupuncture and tend to call it "medical acupuncture", this is NOT Chinese medicine.

How often should I be treated?
Typically, treatment occurs twice a week. If the condition is acute and painful, the practitioner may want to do treatments 3 times per week for the first couple of weeks. Benefits of biweekly treatments versus once a week is that most tend to see relief faster and the effects last longer, so that patients typically need treatment less and less. Eventually patients return to the office only periodically for maintenance.

How soon can I expect to feel better?
Each person is unique, thus will respond to acupuncture differently.  In general, patients should start to feel the benefits from treatment within 2-3 sessions. If the problem is acute, sometimes improvement is felt after a single treatment, and may only need 3-5 treatments to resolve.  If the problem is chronic and long term, it may require additional treatments to generate improvement.

What is cupping?
Cupping is the process of quickly heating glass cups and placing them directly on the skin, creating a suction.  Cupping is useful to release the deep muscles which can become knotted and painful.  Made popular when Gwyneth Paltrow wore a backless dress which showed her cup marks.  Not all cupping techniques leave marks, but please note that marks are temporary.  Try this reverse massage, and you will be hooked!

What does cupping treat?

The basic idea is that pain/illness occurs when there is a blockage or stagnation of qi and blood.  Cupping improves the circulation to these areas thus pain is alleviated and underlying health issues are often helped.  Cupping helps such issues as generalized pain, injuries of the back/shoulders/neck, herniated discs, arthritis, and other conditions such as asthma, colds and flus, insomnia, etc.

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