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Dr. Li Answers Acupuncture FAQ

AG00029_.gif (4339 bytes) What Is Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a complete medical system originated from China more than 300 years ago. It applies traditional Chinese medicine theory to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well-being by inserting acupuncture needles at critical points through human body. Due to its proven effectiveness, it has been becoming more and more popular throughout the world.

How Acupuncture Works

There are two kinds of explanations about how acupuncture works. I would like to give a traditional explanation. In traditional Chinese medicine, there exists meridian system through human body and more than 360 acupoints are located at these meridians. Qi, or a stream of energy, flows through these meridians and acupoints to support tissue, muscles and organs. When the Qi is obstructed in certain critical points, or acupoints, the function of tissue, muscles and organs will be impaired.

By inserting acupuncture needles into acupoints helps the release of Qi flow and corrects Qi imbalances at the organ level to improve your energy and internal processing.


Since acupuncture promotes the body's natural healing ability, many conditions can be corrected or improved. Also, it is being recognized that acupuncture is a comprehensive system of preventive health care and health maintenance. The effectiveness of acupuncture extends far beyond the conception that it is only useful for chronic pain management or as an analgesic. It has been discovered by many athletes that acupuncture treatment helps them to reach optimum performance levels. Recently acupuncture detoxification treatments have been recognized as a valid form of therapy for chemical dependency problems such as drinking, drug and smoking. Throughout its long history, acupuncture has established a solid reputation as an excellent alternative for health care.

What Conditions Are Commonly Treated by Acupuncture

According to my clinic experience, the following conditions can be treated by acupuncture most effectively.

Pain Relieve and Control

It is well proven that acupuncture can treat many types of pain conditions such as Arthritis, Cervical Spondylopathy, Knee Pain, Hand and Foot Pain, Sciatica, Shoulder Pain, Tennis Elbow, Lower Back and Neck Pain, Tendonitis, etc. More than half of my patients who suffered from different pains visited my office. Most of them have received satisfied treatment results. I have some patients who suffered injury due to car or sports accidents. They are also very pleased with acupuncture treatment.

Headache & Migraines

Many of my patients have suffered from headache or migraine for many years. Before accepting acupuncture treatment, they have tried almost everything. However, none of these approaches really work. After having acupuncture treatment, they felt remarkable improvement of their condition.

Quit Smoking

It usually takes three to five sessions of acupuncture treatment to have smokers to quit.

Other Conditions

I have successfully treated other diseases and conditions such as Anxiety and Depression, Facial Paralysis, Insomnia, Neuralgia, Stroke Rehabilitation, TMJ, Whiplash, etc.

How Acupuncture Feels

Prior to their first treatment, many people do not believe that acupuncture can be painless. Different sensations such as soreness, numbness, distending, warmth and pressure may be felt, but the energetic sensation differs from pain. People often comment that the feeling is unfamiliar but pleasant and relaxing.

Acupuncture needles are very fine, about the size of a thick hair. They are solid and nothing is injected through them. Over the centuries, refined needle insertion techniques have been developed which enable the skilled acupuncture practitioner to place a needle with little or no sensation.

If you have a real fear of needles, discuss it with your acupuncturist. An appropriate treatment strategy can always be agreed upon.

Is acupuncture needle safe

Yes! Because now acupuncture is carried out with sterile and disposable needles approved by FDA.

How many sessions do I need for treatment

Since each person is unique, the number of treatments needed will vary. Among the determining factors are the type of condition, whether the condition is chronic or acute, and the vitality of the individual. Again, you should discuss your treatment program with your acupuncturist.

How many needles should be used in each treatment

According to my experience, six to eight needles are used during acupuncture treatment at most of times. If two or more symptoms or conditions are treated during one session, ten or more needles may be used. For instance, a patient has being suffered from both back pain and headache for a while. The patient can be treated for both in each session instead of treating only one symptom in one session. However, do not try to treat as many symptoms or conditions as possible.

If an acupuncturist does not have enough experience, he or she should just treat one symptom or condition in each treatment.

Some acupuncturists insert as many as thirty or more needles in one treatment. This may mean that by using many needles the chances of inserting some of needles precisely at acupoints may be increased. In fact, this approach may set the treatment effect out of control and cause fatigue that hinders treatment, rather than beneficial relaxation.

How often should I have acupuncture treatment

I usually render it two to three sessions a week for the first two weeks. After reviewing the progress of treatment, I render it one to two sessions a week for the following weeks. However, it entirely depends on the physical condition of each individual.

How long each session takes

Normally, each session takes 20 to 30 minutes. It depends on the sensitivity of each individual and the kind of diseases and conditions.

In general speaking, the quality of acupuncture treatment relies on the experience and skill of an acupuncturist. They are combination of diagnosis of symptom, accuracy of acupoints, timing, the depth and angle of insertion, techniques of manipulation, etc.

Should I stop other medications

No. You should continue to follow your current physician's instructions. Please remember that acupuncture is used to complement and supplement your physician's treatments not to replace them. You should discuss this issue with your physician and acupuncturist.

In which cases, acupuncture is inadvisable

A patient should never be needled under the following conditions:

When the patient is too hot; when his or her pulse is greatly disturbed; when he or she is drunk or angry; when he or she is hungry or has eaten too much; when he or she is overtired, out of breath; or when he or she is full of great fear.

It is preferable not to have acupuncture treatment at all during pregnancy.

Does medical insurance cover acupuncture treatment

I can not give you a "yes" or "no" answer. That depends on which state you live, who is your medical insurance company and what type health insurance plan you have enrolled.

In some states like New Mexico, California, Maryland, etc., most of health insurance companies offer medical insurance programs that cover acupuncture treatment, even for Chinese herb formula.

In Pennsylvania, currently most of health insurance companies do not offer medical insurance programs that cover acupuncture treatment. A few insurance companies like Aetna U.S. Healthcare start to offer acupuncture treatment coverage in one of their medical insurance programs. As I know, Indepence Blue Cross is considering introducing an alternative healthcare program administrated by American Specialty Health Networks. If you are resident of Pennsylvania, you should contact your health insurance company to check whether your current medical insurance cover acupuncture treatment. If you have injuries caused by car accident or work injuries, your auto insurance or work compensation insurance will cover acupuncture treatment most likely. However, you better contact your auto insurance or work insurance company to confirm the acupuncture treatment coverage.

Your most valuable asset is good health. Invest in it wisely. Consider Acupuncture!!!

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