Saco River Acupuncture
Acupuncture
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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

Whether you're suffering from lack of sleep or your eating isn't ideal, if you're stressed and overworked, or after you've sustained some kind of trauma – it can easily throw your nervous system out of balance. 

High school biology refresher : the sympathetic (aka "fight or flight") and parasympathetic (aka "rest & digest") nervous systems are part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls the nerves of the inner organs of the body on which humans have no conscious control, including heartbeat, digestion, body temperature, breathing, etc. Acupuncture works by tapping directly into your nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic nervous system (aka "rest & digest"), while quieting your sympathetic nervous system (aka “fight or flight” ). You may hear your belly start to gurgle when you receive an acupuncture treatment which is strong evidence that your parasympathetic system has been activated and that your body is in restoration mode. By taking you out of “fight or flight” and into “rest and digest” mode, acupuncture tells your body to stop using up resources and start rebuilding and nourishing the areas that need attention.

Just like your body knows how to heal itself from catching a cold, getting food poisoning or spraining an ankle, it can recover from virtually every issue you encounter. Sometimes it just gets tired and forgets. Acupuncture reminds your body that it still has work to do. Think about it – our bodies are incredible systems that can rebuild bone, muscle, tissues and nerves, and regulate hormones and brain chemistry all at the same time without us even having to think about it!

Is acupuncture painful?

Acupuncture needles are as fine as a hair, so most of the time you won’t feel anything. If I'm doing motor point release of a muscle, the desired response is for the muscle to twitch, helping to reset the tight or shortened muscle. This is usually painless or no more uncomfortable than the pain you are already experiencing.

If you want to try acupuncture but are nervous, just let me know and I will work with you to keep needle size and retention time to a minimum. Depending on your condition, I may be able to release a tight muscle in a few seconds, remove the needle and finish the treatment with another modality such as cupping or gua sha.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. When performed by a properly trained and competent practitioner, acupuncture is quite safe. Acupuncture training is a three year graduate degree program, involving over 2400 hours of coursework and 630 clinical training hours. In Maine, candidates must pass a minimum of three national board exams (administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) before being considered for professional licensure by the Board of Registration in Medicine.  

ARE YOUR NEEDLES CLEAN?

I use ONLY completely sterilized, single use, surgical grade stainless steel needles. I take them directly out of the sterile package, use them once, and deposit them into a hazmat container where they become medical waste to be disposed of.

HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?

I wish there was a simple answer to this question. The number of sessions you need depends on the severity and chronicity of your condition. Acute conditions like a common cold or sprain can be treated with few treatments, while more chronic issues like PMS or chronic back pain will require more treatments over a longer period of time. 

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 I can provide a more accurate estimate of the number of treatments that will be necessary.

The ultimate goal is for you to feel healthy and balanced, with a once per month "tune up" treatment.

when will it start to work?

You will probably notice some changes such as decreased stress, improved sleep, and reduced pain within the first few treatments. Some people feel immediate relief after the first treatment. But most need more. Acupuncture works best cumulatively. Your body needs time to heal. Commitment, patience, and a desire to be involved in your healing process are crucial for success. If you have been struggling with your symptoms for awhile, I ask that you commit to at least 6 sessions so we can get a sense of how best you will respond.

It’s also possible (and normal) to feel slightly worse after treatment, often improving later in the day or the next day. This is especially true with pain conditions.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?

Occasionally the original symptoms may worsen for a few days, or you may experience other changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. Most patients feel a sense of deep relaxation while being energized at the same time.

DOES ACUPUNCTURE TREAT....?

Acupuncture treats a wide variety of conditions, and can help with almost all diseases and injuries. Because acupuncture is completely natural, it may work more slowly than conventional medicine but with virtually none of the negative side effects associated with prescription meds or surgery. The short list of what acupuncture can treat includes : 

  • musculoskeletal pain (low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, etc)
  • joint pain
  • anxiety & stress
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • digestive disorders
  • menstrual irregularity
  • the common cold
  • side effects from chemotherapy
  • headaches/migraines
  • arthritis
  • carpal tunnel
  • vertigo

And that’s the just short list! Please contact me for a consultation or if your symptom is not listed. 

Is acupuncture covered through my health insurance?

Maybe. I'm an out-of-network provider with Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and in-network with Harvard Pilgrim. Check out the patient information page for more on insurance or click the button below if you would like me to check your benefits. I also accept Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts if your insurance doesn't cover you.