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Rising Tide Natural Medicine
Liam McClintock, ND, LAc, DHANP
Naturopathic Doctor, Licensed Acupuncturist,
Board Certified in Homeopathy & Acupuncture

Acupuncture - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What sort of training should a practitioner have to practice acupuncture?

    As with any practice, the more training the practitioner has, the more likely they are to display competence and results for their patients. Masters and Doctoral level programs in Oriental Medicine entail at least three years of full-time study. The most commonly accepted certification exam in acupuncture is the NCCAOM National Certification Exam. Acupuncturists can legally practice acupuncture in Colorado only if they have passed a national certification exam in acupuncture and achieved licensure. Chiropractors can legally perform acupuncture in Colorado with minimal training. Some Physical Therapists do a limited form of acupuncture called "dry needling".

  2. What are acupuncture needles like?

    Acupuncture needles are very thin needles, sometimes only as thick as a thick human hair. Because the needles are so thin, they rarely cause any damage or bleeding to tissue, and occasionally are not even felt. They are sterile and disposable and are usually made of stainless steel.

  3. Does acupuncture hurt?

    Generally, an acupuncture treatment causes the patient to experience little or no pain, depending upon the style of acupuncture used. Often the patient experiences a warm, radiating, or distending sensation at the site of the point being treated. Occasionally sensitive patients will feel a small amount of a sensation which may make them startle. This feeling is enhanced with recent use of stimulant drugs, caffeine being the most common. It is generally recommended that a person eat earlier on the day of a treatment and avoid caffeine beverages or other stimulants.

  4. Is acupuncture safe?

    Acupuncture, like any form of medicine, has precautions and contraindications. If performed properly and by adequately trained practitioners, acupuncture is an extremely safe procedure. There are virtually no potential complications or side effects, even in children and during pregnancy.

  5. For what conditions is acupuncture effective?

    Acupuncture is part of a medical system which has treated millions of people for over 3,000 years in China. It has the ability to treat a tremendous number of conditions by itself or in conjunction with other therapies. Acupuncture has been effective in treating all kinds of chronic and acute conditions and diseases including digestion and elimination abnormalities, muscle and joint complaints, neurological conditions, stress effects, respiratory problems, addictions, headaches, pain, female complaints including irregular menses and infertility, male complaints including prostate disease and infertility, and many others.

  6. How many treatments are necessary to treat a condition with acupuncture?

    The answer to this question depends upon the nature of the condition, how long the problem has been present, lifestyle or dietary factors which may affect treatment, additional or adjunctive therapies, and how responsive the individual is to treatment. The surest way to determine how much treatment is necessary is to commit to several treatments at weekly intervals and gauge whether steady progress is achieved. It is rare that no perceived improvement is attained after a few treatments.

  7. What does an acupuncture treatment entail?

    In most cases, an initial visit entails an extensive initial intake encompassing all aspects of the patient's health. A treatment is then performed at the first visit, inserting very thin needles at specific points on the body, and any combination of additional therapies (such as Chinese herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, dietary recommendations, or lifestyle recommendations) may be suggested to be taken between treatments. Shorter follow-up visits are generally encouraged at weekly intervals and spread to longer intervals as improvement progresses.

  8. Does insurance cover acupuncture treatment?

    Some insurance companies cover acupuncture treatment, but it depends upon the individual policy. Occasionally all that is needed is a referral from your primary doctor to have your insurance reimburse you for treatment. Acupuncture needles were recently classified as medical devices by the FDA, so it is likely that more insurance companies will begin to cover acupuncture as a medical procedure. In the meantime, out-of-pocket payment may be necessary. It is best to check with your insurance provider first. Most clinics will provide a receipt which you may submit for reimbursement.

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