Acupuncture – Common Questions

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into points on the skin. Points are chosen from a variety of criteria, sometimes to influence local areas and sometimes because of known influences of areas or functioning at some distance from the area of insertion. It is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Current research suggests it originated in China, where extant texts dates back to around 150 BCE. It is used to treat a wide variety of health concerns, to alleviate pain and to develop overall good health.

The term acupuncture, is often used as a blanket term that involves other traditional methods of stimulating points and channels. We also commonly use moxibustion, gua sha (scraping), plum blossom needling (non insertion tapping), heat, herbal liniments, tui na (massage). Please refer to other pages on this site for more detail on these.

Will acupuncture needles hurt?
Pain on insertion is avoided where possible. Occasionally people feel a mild sensation like a mosquito bite or pinching. For some conditions we stimulate points, looking for a mild, dull, achy, radiating sensation. This is, de qi, or the sensation of qi arriving and moving. In most treatments, needles are inserted very superficially and it is perfectly safe to move, scratch your nose etc while the needles are inserted. Most people find acupuncture deeply relaxing.

What happens during a treatment?
It begins with a brief interview about your condition or the progress of treatment. We go through some traditional diagnostic procedures such as taking the pulse, looking at your tongue, palpation or whatever may be appropriate to hep us better understand your condition. Based on information gathered during these procedures we chose some points and how we want to stimulate them. We commonly use acupuncture needles, but also often include moxibustion, massage, heat, or other ways of stimulating points or channels.  Most treatments last between 20 and 40 minutes. Occasionally it is preferable to remain seated for treatment, but mostly people are laying and resting. Most people report feeling, more relaxed, and an alleviation of their symptoms during treatment.

The number of needles used varies with the condition treated. Typically we use 5 – 10.

What is best to do after treatment?
It is ideal to avoid hard physical or mental work. Not because you won’t be able to do them, but to facilitate the treatment. It is still useful to have treatment even if you need to return immediately to challenging tasks. In fact, you can have acupuncture to help minimise problems associated with demanding physical or mental work. We often see people for performance anxiety, or to enhance athletic performance.

What can acupuncture treatment assist with?
Acupuncture can be used to assist with symptoms associated with a wide range of conditions, skin disorders, respiratory conditions, all painful conditions (neck, back, headaches, limb pain etc), menstrual and pregnancy disorders, viral and post viral illnesses, digestive complaints, depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Can anyone have acupuncture?
Yes, it is suitable for people of all ages, including babies, pregnant women, blokes, and the elderly. We do not always use needles in treatment. Some conditions are best treated with moxibustion, gua aha (scraping), plum blossom hammers (tapping), heat, liniments, and other methods of stimulating points and channels.

I am fearful of needles, does that matter? Can I still have acupuncture?
Yes. Most people tolerate acupuncture needles very well. They are extremely fine and are hardly felt at all. There are also many other ways of stimulating points and channels. Needles are not always used, or even the preferred treatment for some conditions. Please let me know if you feel anxious in any way, about any aspect of the treatment, so we can work together for you to achieve your health goals.

Are the needles sterile?
Yes they are safe and sterile. We only use are sterile, single use disposable needles.

Are there any contraindications for acupuncture?
Only very rarely. For example, in some cases of numbness or poor circulation or blood clotting in an area, we will avoid needling that area. As part of an intake we ask for relevant details. Please always feel free to discuss any concerns. There are many other ways to stimulate acupuncture points and channels without needles.

Can I have acupuncture during pregnancy?
Yes, but let us know you are pregnant. There some points and herbs we do not use during pregnancy as they are good to induce labor and to turn breach presentation bubs. Acupuncture is very useful for conditions of pregnancy, such as, morning sickness, low back and other aches and pains.

Can acupuncture increase my chances of getting pregnant?
Acupuncture can help with many conditions making pregnancy difficult. Irregular menstruation, no menstruation, endometriosis, small myomas, PCOS, etc. can be treated.  Acupuncture can also help with male conditions such as, low sperm count, poor morphology and motility of sperm. Treating both partners is essential to maximise the chances of natural pregnancy. There is growing evidence to support acupuncture increasing natural fertility and assisted fertility, and the important role of sperm in embryo and placenta development.

Can I have acupuncture if I have a cold, flu or other infectious conditions?
Yes, but please let us know so we can protect you and others in the clinic. Acupuncture would help relieve your symptoms. Acupuncture. supplements a variety of functions that may increase your resistance to viral, fungal or bacterial infection.

How long will an appointment last?
The first visit will be longer taking around i hour. We use the extra time to talk about your concerns and goals, and to take your health history. Follow up sessions average around 30 – 40 minutes. Please let us know if you have time constraints.

We aim to run on time and not keep you waiting. Occasionally acute problems need extra time, or people come in late, and we apologise in advance if this gets us behind. Please know if there is ever a time when you need some extra time to talk, or for help with some acute problem, you will also have that extra time.

How many treatments will I need?
Some acute conditions are best treated several times close together, even in one week. Average visits are weekly, biweekly or monthly. The number of visits depends on your condition. We will discuss this during your first visit and reassess it periodically. Some enduring conditions, developing over years, take time to treat well, even months.

We encourage people  to use acupuncture as they need it. For example, people suffering seasonal allergies have treatment prior to the onset of the season; we develop treatment strategies in the lead up and during major sporting events; we treat certain menstrual and assisted fertility conditions at appropriate times of the cycle; more often during acute flare ups or major stress events and less often between.

What will happen on my first consultation?
Come in about 10 minutes early to fill out some health information allowing us a full appointment time together. Bring a list of things pertinent to your condition, such as, supplements, medications, copies of blood test results, x rays or scans, preferably with reports. We will ask questions about your health concerns and health history. We will go through some traditional diagnostic procedures, such as pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis and palpation where necessary. Our diagnosis and treatment plan will be discussed. Your progress will be periodically reassessed with you. We will then carry out treatment.

We ask all folks to read and sign our informed consent form. This gives you more information and offers a chance to ask questions if there are any concerns.

We also ask you to read and sign our financial agreement form. We ask for payment at time of service. We provide EFTPOS facilities. If you cannot keep your appointment, wherever possible, please give us at least 24 hours notice, so we have time to reschedule others waiting for treatment.

Do I need to undress for the treatment?
We do need access to the affected area, for diagnosis and or treatment. We provide towels and blankets for draping. Please feel free to discuss any concerns you may have.

Is there any risk of adverse reactions with  acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal or other supplements?
All medical procedures involve some risk. With acupuncture there is very occasionally some tenderness or bruising at the site of needling. Chinese herbal medicine may cause minor digestive upsets. Please ask if you have any concerns.

Can I claim back the cost of treatment from my health insurance policy?
For insurance policies that allow reimbursement you can do usually do this when you pay. We will always issue a receipt of service, that you use to claim, if we do it.  Please ask front office staff for details. Please check with your healthcare provider for their level of reimbursement. If they do not offer any, ask them to.