Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture is usually about 95% painless.  Occasionally, you may feel a stick, or slight ache, but it usually subsides in 1-2 seconds.  More commonly, you may feel some heaviness, warmth, or pressure.  Each of these is slight and disappears within seconds.  The experience of your acupuncturist is also a factor.  The needles are very thin solid surgical steel, about the diameter of a human hair.  They are not sharp and thick like an injection needle, and they do not contain any medicine of any kind.  They are used only to stimulate a reaction.


How many treatments will it take?

It really depends upon the individual.  Each person is unique.  Acute cases (recent injury) heal quicker than chronic long term complaints.  The younger patients are typically better responders, and heal quicker.  However, this is not always the case.  Many older patients are also good responders to treatment.  Also, if your immune system is weak, you may heal slower.  Typically, recent injuries may heal within 2-3 treatments.  Chronic cases can take 6-10 visits.  Serious pain management cases, or internal complaints may take long term care.  Unexplained infertility cases typically take 3-9 months.  


How often will I need treatment?

I like to treat acute injuries twice each week for 1-2 weeks, 3 weeks if needed.  Chronic  patients need to come in once each week until results are achieved at a level of 50-80 percent, then, less often.  Some patients need to return on a regular basis, usually once every 2-3 weeks, or 6 weeks, or 3 months, or 6 months.  It depends on the individual, and how serious the problem.


How does acupuncture work?

The exact mechanism is unknown.  Practitioners of Chinese Medicine use a method of Chinese medical diagnosis known as pattern differentiation.  The information used to determine the pattern of disharmony leading to disease, is accumulated by observation, and the study of the signs and symptoms of the patient.  The holistic approach is used, including examination of lifestyle, mind, body, and spirit.  The placement of a few needles at strategic points, stimulate changes in the patient’s condition.  This results in an immediate response by the brain, the nervous system, and the local tissues at the invasion site.  Some of these responses include the secretion of neurotransmitters known as serotonin, endorphins, enkephalins, epinephrine, and others. These cause the body and the mind to react.  Some of these reactions calm the mind and musculoskeletal system via sedation of the nervous system.  Others increase blood flow, balance hormones, and relax ligaments, tendons, and muscles.  In addition, acupuncture can stimulate the immune system, the inflammatory system, and other critical healing systems, that every individual already possesses.  In general, acupuncture stimulates the mind and body to heal itself.  The results vary among individuals, because we are all unique.  The Chinese description of balancing Qi (chee), blood, and body fluids, and the scientific description above, both achieve the same end.   Ancient Chinese concepts are being studied throughout the country in university settings, and are being implemented under the name of “medical acupuncture”.  The key to a successful acupuncture treatment is an accurate diagnosis, and the correct placement of the needles. We know that certain points stimulate specific reactive events.  How these events scientifically occur, is still somewhat of a mystery. 


Why is acupuncture called holistic, complementary, or alternative medicine?  What does this mean?

Holistic means considering the whole person, including mind, body, and spirit.  What are the factors leading to disease?  Are they simply physical, or are they emotional, spiritual, mental, work related, belief system issues, or some combination of these and other things.  Complementary refers to being “in addition to” conventional medical treatment.  Acupuncture can be an additional treatment along with conventional treatments, resulting in better quality of life than just the conventional methods.  Alternative means that it is used in replacement of conventional methods.  For instance, acupuncture can be very effective in the reduction of pain, when drugs, physical therapy, or surgery have not alleviated the problem.  (Note:  the word “spirit” has nothing to do with anything religious.  Religion is no part of acupuncture practice.)


Do I need a referral from a medical doctor?

No, you do not.  Indiana state law does not require this.


Does insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid pay for acupuncture?

Some insurance companies have coverage.  Each policy is different.  It depends upon what amenities your employer requested at the time the master policy was purchased.  You can find out if you have coverage by calling your claims department.  Acupuncturists, typically, do not accept insurance, but will furnish you with a receipt containing the correct codes, so you can get prompt reimbursement from your insurance company.


Medicare and Medicaid do not cover acupuncture at this time, however, there is a bill before Congress (HR 646) allowing this.  If this bill is approved and made part of the health care changes now being considered, there may be coverage in the near future.


What type of payment is available in your office?

We accept cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover at the time of service.


Are you a chiropractor?

No.  I am a Board Certified Acupuncturist only.  I do not practice chiropractic manipulation.  Chiropractors typically do very little acupuncture, and usually are not educated in Chinese medical theory.


What do all the credentials mean?


L. Ac.             

This designation means that your practitioner has been granted a state license to practice acupuncture only.  It does not include Board Certification or extensive additional training.  Chiropractors and some dentists and physicians hold this license.  These practitioners usually do not practice acupuncture full time.


Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)                       

This designation means that your practitioner has completed approximately 3000 hours of training in acupuncture and oriental medicine.  This usually includes education in acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, moxabustion, heat therapy, massage, and other ancillary therapies that are a part of traditional Chinese medicine.  It also indicates that the practitioner has 2 years training as an intern, and that he or she has passed a rigorous national medical board exam.  Continuing education is also required each license term, before renewal is granted.  These practitioners also have the L. Ac. designation.  NCCAOM stands for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  These practitioners are the most highly trained acupuncturists.


Dipl. Ac. (FIAMA)                

This designation is a “knockoff” on the above designation issued by an organization outside of the United States, and requires very little additional training above the L. Ac. license.  It is used by some chiropractors.



This designation is the state issued license for the State of Florida.  These practitioners also have the NCCAOM designation of Dipl. Ac. (diplomate of acupuncture)


D. O. M. and M. S. O. M.     

These designations are other state designations indicating graduation from a certified acupuncture medical school.  These practitioners also hold an NCCAOM certification.



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