What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture dates back over 2000 years to its foundations in China. It is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at acupuncture points.
How does it work?
The theory is that channels of energy, called meridians, run through the body and over its surface. Any obstruction in the movement of the energy can cause imbalance and result in various symptoms and illnesses. The acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians, hence it restores the balance. Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. This stimulates natural healing, and promotes physical and emotional well-being.
Is medical acupuncture different from regular acupuncture?
Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a physician trained and licensed in Western medicine, who has also had thorough training in acupuncture. Such a physician can use Western or Eastern approaches, or a combination of both as the need arises.
What is the scope of Medical Acupuncture?
Medical acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:
1) Promotion of health and well-being
2) Prevention of illness
3) Treatment of various medical conditions
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner is has much broader applications. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems including:
1) Digestive Disorders: gastritis, hyper acidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
2) Respiratory Disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections
3) Neurological/Muscular Disorders: headaches, post stroke rehabilitation, neuropathies, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica, and osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
4) Urinary/Menstrual/Reproductive Disorders: P.M.S, irregular menses, menstrual cramps, excessive bleeding, menopause. Acupuncture is also particularly useful in resolving tension, stress and emotional conditions.
How fast does it work?
For most patients, relief can be felt at the first treatment. However there are other cases where pain may remain for a day or two, then completely disappear. In case of chronic conditions, it may need more time.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed varies from person to person. For complex or long standing conditions, one or two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, four sessions per year may be all that is necessary.
Are there any side effects to the treatment?
Usually not. Occasionally general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel/urination pattern, or emotional stated may be triggered. The original symptoms may also worsen for a few days. These should not be a cause for concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These never require anything more than some rest to overcome.
Does it hurt?
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain left.
Does it work for everyone?
No. Acupuncture is between 70% and 85% effective; it will not work in 15-30% of cases. However, drugs are far less successful than this, with our strongest legal drug, morphine, relieving pain only in 50% of all cases. Even therapeutic surgery comes with no guarantees.
Should I try it only as a last resort?
No. It should be considered before resorting to potentially noxious treatments. If acupuncture is not successful after several treatments, then one should move on to drugs or other indicated modalities.
Is it covered by health insurance?
In the state of Michigan: Blue Cross State Health Plan Advantage, Blue Cross MESSA, and the Blue Cross Federal Program routinely cover acupuncture treatments provided by physicians like Dr. Lee. Other commercial plans such as Aetna and Cigna may cover depending upon the individual plans. Auto insurances and Workman’s Compensation may give authorization to cover depending upon the individual case. We encourage you to write to your insurance company to request appropriate coverage for acupuncture and related treatments.
About Dr. Yi-Shiuan Judy Lee:
Dr. Lee is board certified in pain, management, pain medicine and anesthesiology. She has earned both MD and PhD degrees at Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans. She has practiced for years with her post graduate training from U.C. San Diego and the University of Miami. She completed acupuncture training for physicians at UCLA. She is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. She has a solo practice in Okemos, MI. She is fluent in English and Chinese. She is waiting to help you with comprehensive modalities such as nerve block therapy, acupuncture therapy, and physical therapy.