Acupuncture FAQ

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Many people are new to acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and, quite understandably, have a lot of questions. If you don’t find your question answered here, feel free to contact Six Branches Family Acupuncture directly.

What should I expect at my first appointment?

Adults and Teens: In a typical first appointment at Six Branches Family Acupuncture, we will take a detailed health history, perform a physical exam, and fully investigate your chief complaint. In addition to any orthopedic testing specific to your condition, the physical exam may include abdominal palpation, taking the pulse and examining the tongue. We will discuss the treatment plan with you and may recommend herbal therapy or nutritional counseling. Depending on the complexity of your condition, the initial appointment may last from 1.5 – 2 hours.

Children 12 and under: First appointments for children last 45-60 minutes. Before your appointment, we will schedule a time to discuss your child’s condition and health history over the phone. During your child’s appointment, we will talk and play with your child. Play is a part of the diagnostic process and also helps your child to feel more comfortable. We will also provide treatment in a form that your child is comfortable with. We offer acupuncture ‘taps’, acupressure, cupping, shoni shin (see below) or other point stimulation. We will never force your child to receive a treatment. We also show you techniques that you can use at home to prolong and strengthen the treatment. We will discuss the treatment plan with you and may recommend herbal therapy or nutritional counseling. Please note: Parents are expected to stay with their child for the entire appointment.

What is the difference between private and community acupuncture?

Community acupuncture sessions take place in a larger room with multiple people getting treated at the same time. It is a quiet and calm environment and many people find it easy to relax while sitting in the reclining chairs provided.  You will only have about 5 minutes to check in with your acupuncturist about your symptoms.  For general stress relief, anxiety, addiction support and pain relief community acupuncture is a great option.

Private acupuncture sessions take place in a separate room where you receive treatment on a massage table.  There is more time allotted for discussing symptoms, doing massage and hands-on assessment, troubleshooting complex cases, and providing custom herbal formulas.

Some people with more complicated cases will come for a few private sessions in the beginning and then switch to community acupuncture as a way to increase the frequency of their treatments.  We are happy to be able to offer both options and welcome you to try whichever option suits your needs!

How should I prepare for my acupuncture session?

We will email you a link to the new patient intake forms for you to complete before your visit. These are completed online in a HIPAA-compliant platform – there is no need to print them out. Gather any lab tests or imaging (MRI, X-ray) results that you have for your condition and email them or bring them with you to your first appointment.

Please wear loose fitting clothing if possible and be sure to eat something within the 1-2 hour period before you come to your acupuncture appointment. For the purposes of diagnosis, please do not brush your tongue on the day of your appointment.

How long will my course of treatment be?

The length of treatment differs widely depending on the person and the condition that is being treated. Acute conditions like a cold or an acute injury may only require a few treatments. Chronic conditions, including PMS, asthma, and chronic back pain, will generally require treatment over a longer period of time. However, you should start to see changes in the condition within the first few treatments.  Treatment for fertility or cycle regulation typically lasts a minimum of 6 months.

The general health of the person being treated also affects the length of treatment. A fairly healthy individual is expected to respond faster than someone who is depleted from long-term illness. Since each person responds differently to acupuncture, it may take a few treatments before we can provide a more accurate estimate of the number of treatments that will be necessary.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture can elicit a range of sensations. At some points you may not feel anything, while at other times you may feel a dull heavy sensation around the needle. Sometimes that dull, heavy sensation will move during the treatment. These are all normal responses to acupuncture. Any sharp or nerve-like feelings are rare, and should be reported to the practitioner if they occur. Most patients report a sense of deep relaxation after a treatment.

How safe is Acupuncture??

Acupuncture is very safe when practiced by a licensed practitioner. All needles are sterilized, single-use, disposable needles and Clean Needle Technique is employed at all times. With a trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is also very safe for women who are pregnant and is a great way to support your health during your pregnancy.

How safe is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is a strong, safe and effective form of natural medicine. Herbs are prescribed to address individual imbalances and should always be taken under the supervision of a licensed practitioner. Herbs should be taken as prescribed and any new medications should be mentioned to the practitioner immediately.

We have made great effort to bring you the safest herbs on the market and all herbs we use have been tested for any undesirable elements including heavy metals, aristolochic acid, and residual pesticides. We have full confidence in the ability of our suppliers to ensure the quality and proper handling of all our herbs.

How do kids react to acupuncture?

Children often respond very well to acupuncture ‘taps’. We use very thin, small acupuncture needles, which we call ‘taps’ to avoid the negative association that kids often have with needles. The length of time that taps are retained depends on the age of the child. In the first session, we spend time with the child introducing them to the idea of taps. If the child isn’t ready to get taps right away, there are other modalities that we can use to treat their condition.

Will my insurance cover acupuncture?

Your health insurance may cover acupuncture for your condition. Many plans include coverage for acupuncture for certain conditions only. For instance, back pain may be covered but insomnia may not. We will verify your insurance coverage and find out if your condition is covered, but we also encourage you to find out for yourself by calling the member number listed on your insurance card. Some questions you can ask are:
Do I have coverage with an out-of-network provider?
Do I need a referral from an MD or Primary Care Provider in order to be covered?
What is my deductible? Have I met it?
What is my copay?
How many visits am I allowed?
Is the ICD-10 code for my condition covered under my plan? (ICD-10 codes are used for diagnosis. For instance, low back pain is M54.5. You can look up the ICD-10 code for your condition here.)

Knowing this information will help you understand the insurance billing process a little better. You will be responsible for any portion of your bill that is not covered by your insurance.

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