These are the top 10 questions I have been asked by my patients over the years. If you have other questions, feel free to send a note on the contact page.
10. How old is acupuncture?
9. How does acupuncture work?
8. Should I still take my pain medicine while I'm getting acupuncture?
7. Is there medicine on the needles?
6. What would be best for my problem: acupuncture, chiropractic or physical therapy?
5. Does my insurance cover acupuncture?
4. How many treatments will it take to feel better, and how often should I come in?
3. Will acupuncture fix my...?
2. Will acupuncture make me lose weight?
1. I'm afraid of needles. Does acupuncture hurt?
Bonus question: What should I call you?
Acupuncture is one of the first therapeutic methods originating in China about 4,000 years ago. It's application at that time, however, was very different from how acupuncture is practiced today. Pre-dating the invention of metallurgy, the first "needles" were made of stone or bone, and acupuncture was originally a bleeding therapy, whereby a specific area of the body was pierced to allow a few drops of blood to be released.
Acupuncture technology made advances during China's Warring States period between 221-475 BC. Metal needles were invented to allow insertion instead of piercing and bleeding. In addition, there are stories that military physicians observed occurrences where an arrow wound in one area of the body inexplicably seemed to relieve medical complaints in another area. This is possibly the origins of mapping the pathways along the body surface that is the basis of acupuncture practice today. TOP
Depending upon the placement of the needles, acupuncture can yield one or more of several effects on your body:
If you are currently taking pain medications for your injury or complaint, my recommendation is that you feel free to continue taking the medication AS NEEDED. This means taking the pain medication when you actually need it, not when you anticipate needing it. In this way, one indication that the acupuncture treatments are working for you is that you are taking less pain medication at your follow-up evaluation. TOP
The first time a patient asked me this question, I thought they were joking, and the image of poison-dart frogs came to mind. However, I have since been asked the same by several other people.
My interpretation of this question is the patient's assumption that when they get medical treatment, the doctor is somehow doing something to them in order to force their body to get better. The underlying premise in Oriental medicine is that the body heals itself, and the physician's role is to remove blockages to healing. Take a look at #3 "Will acupuncture fix my...?" for more on this subject. GO TO #3
So, the short answer is no, there is no medicine on the needles. It's just plain stainless steel. The medicine is you. TOP
I firmly believe that choosing the right type of therapy (or modality) is less important in determining a successful outcome than choosing the right therapy provider. Regardless of their title, a good provider will help you reach your therapy goals, while a bad or inattentive provider will waste your time at best and really hurt you at worst.
At the very basic level, the expertise of an acupuncturist is acupuncture, for a chiropractor it is spinal manipulation, and for a physical therapist it is stretching and exercise. However, the legal scope of practice for each of these professions is much broader. For instance, the acupuncture scope of practice in California allows a licensed acupuncturist to also prescribe exercise, nutritional advice, Oriental massage and acupressure (including tuina, which is the Chinese form of physical therapy), and breathing techniques (ie meditative activities). Thus, an acupuncturist who fully utilizes the tools available to them can help you in many more ways than only needling therapy. TOP
The good news is that many more insurances cover acupuncture treatments now than even a mere ten years ago. The bad news is that insurance companies have so many different variations and permutations of health plans that it can be a big hassle to figure out exactly what your coverage is. If you want to learn how to find out your acupuncture benefits, please click on the insurance link for more information. TOP
The number of visits required to effectively treat your complaint will depend upon its severity, how long it has lasted, and whether there are complicating factors that may slow progress. An uncomplicated acute muscle strain may only take 4-6 treatments over the course of 3 weeks. However, a complicated long-standing complaint like fibromyalgia may require several months. In all cases, you can expect periodic re-evaluations about every 6 visits to gauge your progress and decide whether to continue acupuncture therapy.
When you start a course of acupuncture, you can expect to be treated 1-2 times per week for the first 4-6 visits. The frequency of visits will decrease as your symptoms improve. In and out the door, treatments will generally last between 45-60 minutes. I will make every effort to see you promptly at your scheduled appointment time. Please be aware that you may be asked to reschedule your appointment if you are over 15 minutes late since your remaining time may not be long enough to receive a full treatment. TOP
I am not a mechanic, and you are not a car. Despite all the intricate machinery and electronics stuff under the hood of today's automobiles, they are nothing compared to the wonderful complexity of the human body. There is no repair manual and no replacement parts for your body, at least none that will return you to showroom quality, new-baby smell perfection.
There is no healthcare provider who can fix you, except maybe veterinarians. What your healthcare provider can do for you is help remove the blockages to healing. For a surgeon, this could mean re-attaching a torn ligament. However, if your body is unable to do the work of healing the damaged tissue, the surgery will not be successful.
An acupuncturist can help remove blockages such as trigger points in the muscle, scar tissue and adhesions on the muscle fascia, poor surface circulation that is preventing sufficient oxigenation of the tissues, and deactivating the nervous system's stress response.
Your body's ability to heal can be compromised by heredity, age, nutrition, sleeping habits, physical trauma and emotional stress. I can help you identify ways to improve your body's healing capacity, but it is up to you to make the necessary changes in habits and lifestyle that will promote rather than hinder healing. TOP
Since 1960, the rate of obesity among adults in the United States has tripled from 10.7% to 35.9%. The U.S. has the second highest rate of obesity in the world, topped only by Mexico. It is little wonder that so many of my patients ask about acupuncture for weight loss.
Many of my patients have seen their friends and relatives with seeds or tiny needles taped to their ears, who have gone to see an acupuncturist for weight loss treatments. Sorry to burst your bubble, but acupuncture is not the magic bullet to weight loss.
What I do tell my patients is that acupuncture can help to curb appetite and sugar cravings. It can help by lowering stress levels if you tend to be a stress eater. It can be helpful as part of a larger comprehensive program to eat healthier, with smaller portions, and incorporate more physical activity into your daily life. TOP
This is by far the number one question I get from first time patients, and I completely blame medical doctors for America's needle-phobia. Many people fear acupuncture because of their painful experiences with hypodermic needles used for immunizations and blood draws. The reason hypodermic needles cause pain is that they are BIG to tear the skin and subcutaneous tissues upon insertion. In comparison, acupuncture needles are hair-thin and penetrate the skin without tearing. The result is that you often do not feel the needle being inserted at all.
You may feel a muscle twitch, a slight achiness around the needle or a traveling electric sensation. This is called the "needling sensation". Although it may feel a bit uncomfortable, eliciting a needling sensation is widely thought to enhance the effects of your treatment. In fact, many Chinese feel that acupuncture is not effective unless they feel a strong needling sensation. TOP
Whatever you want, just no profanity.
Patients have called me Doctor, Doc, Dr. Uchida, Dr. Kevin, Mr. Kevin, Mr. Uchida, Kevin, Sensei...Ken, Keith. I corrected them on the last two. I am not tied to the title of doctor, but some patients are more comfortable with that. I am fine with any of the above.
Even though I hold a doctorate degree in Oriental Medicine, a doctorate is not required to take the licensing exam, so legally a licensed acupuncturist cannot advertise himself as a doctor. TOP