Questions about Acupuncture

San Francisco Acupuncture FAQ
These are a few of the questions that patients often ask about acupuncture and their therapeutic experience:


[expand title=”Q: What sorts of conditions do you treat in your San Francisco acupuncture clinic?” trigclass=”highlight”]A: Though patients and practitioners most commonly think of acupuncture as being effective for pain syndromes, aches and pains, and sports medicine, in my practice, I have found acupuncture to be effective for a surprising variety of conditions. Among these are allergies and asthma, insomnia and depression, migraines, digestive disturbances, menopausal and menstrual problems. (In traditional Chinese medicine, this is not surprising at all. Pain is a manifestation of a blockage or imbalance in the meridians. But the reason the body has not healed itself is because of a disturbance at a deeper level. So in needling the meridians, you change the deeper level, also.)[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: What made you decide to go into acupuncture instead of allopathic medicine?”]A: Though I am double boarded in Anesthesiology and Pediatrics and worked as a Staff Anesthesiologist in San Francisco for almost a decade, I developed a significant allergy to latex (the major component in surgical gloves) and was required to leave practice. I became interested in acupuncture thinking I could use it as an adjunct to traditional pain management. I became so interested in its possibilities, however, that I decided to devote my practice solely to acupuncture as taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I am convinced that acupuncture can play a role in conditions that are often ill-treated by allopathic medicine. I am also convinced that it is very effective in the treatment of stress. Stress is a key component in many aspects of health, disease, and longevity, and acupuncture can help to alleviate this adverse condition.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: How does acupuncture work?”]A: From a western, scientific standpoint there seem to be many mechanisms by which acupuncture works. It works at the local level, i.e. at the point of injury or pain by releasing neurotransmitters, and allowing for better blood flow, and less perception of pain. But there are clearly more global mechanisms at play also. It increases endorphins (natural painkillers); it modulates the central nervous system, and can improve immunity. (Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that the needles balance the energy flow in meridians or energy channels, and thus relieve pain. But it also teaches that acupuncture can heal each of the five organs and entrails by treating the meridian that corresponding to each. The “spirit” itself can be balanced by correct treatment.)[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: How much do you charge?”]A: I charge $105 for the first visit and then $82 a visit after that. I give a discount for a series of treatments, 4 visits for $275, $220 for 4 visits if you are a senior. A great investment in your health!!  I accept cash, check and credit card. I have a very efficient billing manager who will file claims for you for your reimbursement from any insurance coverage you might have, and has been excellent at getting patients’ reimbursement.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: How long does a treatment take?”]A: The first session will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After that, subsequent treatments will take less than an hour from entering the office to leaving. The needles usually remain in place about 20 minutes.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: Does it hurt?”] A: Typically the needles are barely felt. But some patients are more sensitive than others are. In those cases, fewer needles are used, or different types of stimulation are employed.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: Do you use disposable needles?”] A: Yes.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: Is there anything special I need to do to help the acupuncture be successful?”]A: The most important thing for patients to do is to be patient! If you are being treated for a pain syndrome, heat (NON-ELECTRICAL, PLEASE!) should be applied at least once the day of treatment. The other thing is to stay consistent with your appointments. As with so many processes in life, consistency is as more important than the number of visits. Visualization, of course, is a great adjunct, but not necessary.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: How many treatments will it take?”]A: For acute conditions, a treatment or two can be enough ( an acute back spasm, neck spasm, labor induction, etc…) but for more chronic ailments, 80% of patients will see results within 4 treatments. 90% of patients will see results within 6 treatments. If the treatments seem to be working, the goal is then to space out the therapy until no further therapy is needed or occasional “booster” visits.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: Do I need to believe in acupuncture for it to work?”]A: Acupuncture works best on babies, children and animals. They certainly don’t “believe” in it. Acupuncture studies are carried out on laboratory rats, which are not influenced by belief. That said, the main advantage of “belief” in my point of view, is that it motivates the patient to keep their appointments, follow through, and not give up prematurely. The biggest waste of time and money is to not give your treatments a chance to work. You are, in a sense, training your system to respond in a new way, and it can take some time. Be patient and you will be rewarded with a result that will make you healthier in many ways, not just rid of symptoms.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: What can I expect after a treatment?”] A: Sometimes patients feel better immediately after treatment, but not always. Some people feel energetic and a distinct sense of well being. But about 30% of patients will have an increase or exacerbation of symptoms after the first treatment, and maybe even the second. Another common occurrence after the first and maybe second treatment is to feel tired and an increased sleep requirement or need to nap.[/expand]


[expand title=”Q: Will insurance pay for my treatments?”] A: Increasingly, insurance companies will cover some of the cost of the visit, acupuncture, and infrared therapy. Medicare will NOT pay for any portion. My clinic is out of network with all insurance companies. This allows me to provide high quality care and not let treatment be dictated by insurance limitations. My MD status can be helpful in securing reimbursement for many insurance companies. PPO health insurance plans with acupuncture benefits will be processed by our billing department.[/expand]