Acupuncture is a form of medicine dating back over 5000 years. In this practice, specific points on the body are stimulated – either with pressure, or specialized acupuncture needles. This is to either activate different processes, or bring them back to a state of homeostatic balance. In simpler terms, it’s like adjusting the temperature on the thermostat to be within a comfortable range.
While this form of medicine has been around for 1000’s of years, it has adapted with the changing times. Different schools of thought developed around different masters, and have developed their own practices. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was formalized in the 1950’s during The Great Leap Forward in China. Mostly, this was a streamlining of practices taken from multiple schools. Still, some family styles survived and are popular today, along with schools of thought developed in different countries such as Japan and Korea.
Below are some frequently asked questions about Acupuncture, but you can also see more FAQs here!
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
The short answer to this question is: everything. Chinese medicine has been used as a primary form of treatment long before modern medicine joined the scene, and therefore has methods and protocols for any pathology.
This has held true over many generations. In TCM, diagnosis and treatment is based on presenting symptoms and patterns, not a general disease picture that “may or may not show signs of” specific symptoms. For example, say you have a “cold” – you could have chills, a stuffy nose, and general fatigue, or you could have a fever, sore throat, and fatigue. While modern medicine considers both a cold, TCM differentiates these as either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat respectively.
While TCM can treat practically anything, today, acupuncture is commonly sought out for:
- Pain of any kind
- Post-stroke symptoms
- Neurological Symptoms
- High Blood Pressure
- Diabetic Symptom Management
- Gynecological Disfunctions
- Infertility (for women and men)
- Pregnancy Side Effects
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Prostate Issues
- Cancer Symptoms & Treatment Side Effects
- Common Colds or Flu
- Weight Loss
How Many Treatments are Necessary?
This is not a one size fits all answer – it really depends on the presentation and duration of the symptoms in the patient. The short answer: the longer you’ve had the problem, the longer it will take to resolve. An acute injury in a young and healthy patient will take significantly less time to recover from than a chronic illness in someone aged and sickly.
This is true in all forms of health care. It is also the reason it is so important to see your acupuncturist as soon as possible, and not wait until the condition has become chronic. So go in when the small symptoms show up – it could be the difference between 3 visits and 20+.
It is also important to receive treatments at the frequency your acupuncturist recommends. Initially, this is often several visits up front, and gradually stepped down until the treatments are no longer necessary. A good rule of thumb is this: If the patient sees results after treatment, and they increase again before the next treatment, (s)he should be going more frequently.
The goal between treatments is to reach the next one without symptoms returning. At this point, add more time between treatments until they are symptom free. It is a good idea to have at least 1 follow up treatment without any symptom return. And, of course, remember to schedule an appointment at the first sign that they do after release.
When Should Results be Obvious?
Following how many treatments are necessary, most people are going to want to know when they will begin to feel better. This is a completely fair question! And a good acupuncturist will give you an explanation of what they expect to see.
After the 1st visit, there are three possible outcomes that are within normal range:
- Many people will see at least mild results after the first visit. From this point, there will be a progress with less and less symptoms until treatment is complete.
- Some people will see a mild increase in symptoms initially, followed by an overall decrease (this should occur by the next day).
- Some people will see no obvious results after the first visit – fear not, this is ok. In some cases, it may take a few visits for results to show (and your acupuncturist should tell you this during your initial visit). However, if no improvement at all is seen at the end of the 2nd month, it is probably time to seek help elsewhere.
One notable exception to this rule is for fertility support. Not only is this often a chronic issue that will take some time to resolve, pregnancy has a very narrow window, and many things have to be aligned. In this case, talk to your acupuncturist about what should be expected.
What Is My Acupuncturist Saying?
It is easy to misinterpret what someone trained in TCM & Acupuncture means when the diagnosis is taken at face value. A patient may be diagnosed with “Liver Wind” or ” Kidney Deficiency,” but that doesn’t mean something is functionally wrong with the Liver or Kidney.
When you hear an organ name, or something like “wind,” “damp,” or “phlegm”in the diagnosis, all that really is being said is a pattern that was named 1000’s of years ago is present in the patient. And by looking at these minute symptoms and the diagnosis that comes from the combined presentation, your Acupuncturist can treat you effectively.
It’s also easy to ask what’s my western diagnosis translated to in TCM? While there is an answer, it does not easily correlate in a 1:1 fashion. Going back to the simple example of the common cold, TCM breaks the diagnosis down even further – into wind cold or wind heat.
Want to Try Acupuncture for Yourself?
Acu Chatt is located in Chattanooga, TN. You can book your appointment online or by calling us!