Acupuncture is a well established medical technique that has been used in China for thousands of years and integrated into health care delivery across the globe. Its technique most commonly involves inserting very small needles into the skin in specific locations to modulate pain, nerve firing, and the function of body systems. Acupuncture as a stand-alone treatment has well studied efficacy for both physical and emotional pain reduction. It additionally works exceptionally well used as an adjunct with other modalities for long standing chronic conditions and to promote overall wellbeing.

For more information about Acupuncture and what to expect during an acupuncture treatment, click here.

The short answer is virtually anything. All acupuncture treatments can be balancing to the body and help to circulate the body’s energy or qi (pronounced “chee” ). This often results in relaxation, improved sleep, detoxification, and pain reduction. Many conditions involving nerve pain respond particularly well to acupuncture. Migraines, anxiety,  neuropathy, and vertigo are just a few conditions that may actually respond better to acupuncture than to pharmaceuticals. Acupuncture has been well studied as an effective adjunctive therapy in hormonal imbalances, infertility, addiction treatment, nausea (both pregnancy and chemotherapy related), and PTSD.

One of the best features of acupuncture is its simplicity. It is a highly safe procedure with minimal risk. Most patients do not experience any pain during the treatment; however sometimes short -lived localized pain, bruising or soreness around treatment may occur. Cases of long term negative effects from acupuncture treatment are incredibly rare. The worst case scenario for a very small percentage of patients is a report of minimal or no response to treatment. 

Acupuncture is a generally painless and relaxing procedure. It takes between 5 and 15 minutes to place the needles and they stay in place from 20 to 50 minutes, depending on how many body areas we are addressing. There are different types of acupuncture and related procedures including electroacupuncture, moxibustion, gua sha, cupping, and acupressure with magnets or seeds. Sometimes these treatments  are used in combination for improved efficacy based on the doctor’s recommendations. Often a TENS/muscle stimulator machine may also be applied during treatment to further help muscle response. Another adjunctive treatment involves very small press needles applied to each ear that you wear home and remove 3-5 later for a more prolonged effect. All of these options are offered based on expected improved efficacy and do not affect the cost of each treatment. They can be discussed further with the doctor if they are deemed appropriate.

There are several types of practitioners who can be licensed to practice acupuncture in the United States and the types of training required varies by state. Licensed Acupuncturists can come from any professional background but have completed a four-year clinical graduate program or equivalent here in the United States specifically in acupuncture and Chinese medicine before they can treat patients. Physicians are required to take upwards of 300 hours of clinical training in acupuncture in addition to the 4 years of medical school and minimum of 3 years residency and years of clinical practice they may have in their specialty. So while some physicians may not have had as many dedicated hours in acupuncture as an LAc , the have a far more extensive medical background than is required for an LAc. Both are equally skilled to perform acupuncture, however styles may differ depending on  the type of training received.


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    Dr. Marina Rasnow-Hill