Q&A – Acupuncture

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Most people who have had acupuncture would describe it as virtually painless or far less painful than plucking out a hair. The sensations that follow, range from nothing at all, to mild tingling, to slight heaviness or aching moving up and down the channels/meridians, to electrical pulsations in areas distant from the site of insertion. All these sensations usually subside once the needles have been in place for a while or are removed. The needles used for acupuncture are typically not much thicker than a strand of hair, do not draw blood and are solid, not hollow. Many people find acupuncture very relaxing.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

When performed by a competently trained, license professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturists today use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles, so there is virtually no chance of infection of contagion.

Are there different styles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture originated in China, but has spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe and America. In different countries, different styles have developed based on differing opinions as to theory and technique. Patients should talk to their practitioner about his or her particular style and choose the style that will best suit their constitution and preference.

What criteria should I use in choosing an acupuncturist?

Prospective patients should ask about where the practitioner trained and for how long he or she has been in practice, and most importantly, what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment. Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in over 40 states in the U. S. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal practitioners. Acupuncturists who have passed the NCCAOM exams are entitled to add Dipl. Ac (Diplomate of Acupuncture) or Dipl. O.M. (Diplomate in Oriental Medicine ~ includes certifications in both acupuncture & Chinese Herbal medicine) after their name.

What should I know about the proposed treatments?

Your practitioner will explain the nature of your problem in Oriental medical terms, as well as, translate that into terminology that can be easily understood, and then proceed with explaining what treatment he/she is recommending. Your practitioner will explain to you the benefits and risks of the proposed treatment and what other treatment options are available to you through this practitioner or by referral to another practitioner or physician.

Is there anything I need to do before receiving an acupuncture treatment?

The following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:

  1. Wear loose fitting clothing. Women should not wear one piece dresses and should avoid wearing stockings. If however, these suggestions are not convenient, the practitioner will provide a treatment gown if needed.
  2. Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex

Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?

  1. RELAX. There is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner any questions you may have along the way, so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment. However, try to limit your conversation as this will ultimately detract from the treatment.
  2. Do not change your position or move suddenly while the needles are being retained. If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner so that he/she may accommodate you accordingly.

What can I expect after treatment?

The positive effects of acupuncture begin right away at your first visit. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms, however, this relief tends to be somewhat temporary in the beginning stages of treatment, with initial improvements potentially sliding back within a few hours or days following your first few visits. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain & or discomfort diminish over the next couple of days. As we progress through your course of treatment, the amount of symptomatic relief and the time period of increased wellness following each treatment will become more pronounced, until your body holds the changes on its own. It is important to be consistent with frequent visits at the beginning of care in order to build momentum and hold the gains we make from visit to visit.

How many treatments will I need?

This question is always answered on a case-by-case basis. However, most patients require 2-6 weeks of 1-3 visits per week to make significant changes, followed by weekly visits for another 4-8 weeks to maintain the gains and improvements made. While some acute, less severe conditions can be resolved quickly (ie: 4-6 treatments), chronic conditions that have persisted for years may require several courses of treatments (ie: 20 or more) over a longer period of time to completely resolve, as well as, “maintenance” or “tune-up” visits after symptoms reside in order to consolidate the gains made and prevent relapse. During your initial consultation, we will discuss a proper treatment plan with you.

However, each person is unique and will be treated with an individualized treatment plan. No two conditions or people respond exactly the same. The length of treatment/number of treatments needed depends on the type, severity, and duration of the condition, and the patient’s physical state at the time of treatment. Both the examination and your response to your first few treatments will give us an idea of the course of treatments that will be needed . Each time you come in we will reassess your progress and treatment plan. The best therapeutic results are attained by following the treatment plan and recommendations. It is important to complete the course of therapy for best and longest lasting results.

Ongoing treatments for health maintenance are designed and aimed to prevent disease and promote health and longevity, as well as, vitality and a better quality of life. It can improve your body’s threshold to handle life’s everyday stressors and the imbalances created by the common day lifestyle. Please Review the “Steps of Care” (below) to familiarize yourself with the treatment process.


The “Steps of Care” will not always apply in every case. For instance, when treating women’s menstrual irregularities or infertility, the treatment protocol and time frame may look & be very different. Unique situations like this will be discussed on an individual case to case basis.

Steps of Care – The Treatment Process:

Feeling healthy goes beyond the absence of acute or chronic illness. Often, we don’t acknowledge our health until it is compromised. And only then do we seek ways to regain it. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you along the path toward optimal health and vitality, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

These are the steps of care that can lead you toward a balanced, healthy & Holistic lifestyle.

  • Acute Care: Relief Phase (Obvious Signs & Symptoms; Visits are frequent to promote recovery) 

    Most Patients begin acupuncture treatment to receive quick relief from pain, discomfort & other symptoms. This is Relief Care. This type of care allows you to feel better faster. Each visit builds on previous visits, paving the way toward eliminating your initial problems and complaints.

    During this Acute phase of treatment, we cluster visits close together to reduce the level of symptoms as quickly as possible. This is typically accomplished in 2-6 weeks of treatment 1-3 times per week. Your condition, age, lifestyle and the quality and quantity of your energy, called Qi (pronounced “Chee”), are all factors in your treatment frequency.

    After relief care, you will notice that your aches &/or pains have been dramatically reduced or eliminated.
  • Corrective Care: Stabilization Phase(Symptoms & Signs disappear; Visits are less frequent & you begin to feel better)

During this phase of care, Signs & Symptoms have been reduced and visits are less frequent. This phase maintains and supports the changes you have achieved and provides you with a foundation for deeper healing. This is also the time, when underlying problems and imbalances can be addressed.

Even though you may not be experiencing symptoms, it is important to continue to strengthen, build and support your body as the healing process is still unfolding and the body is vulnerable to re-injury or re-aggravation of symptoms.

  • Maintenance & Wellness Care: Prevention Phase(“Tune-ups” Help Maintain health & vitality)

This type of care preserves all the progress you have made. Visits may be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, every other month or seasonal. Much the same way you keep your car running smoothly with regular oil changes and tune-ups, periodic visits for acupuncture treatment can keep you running smoothly. Coming in for maintenance tune-ups also helps us to identify and address imbalances in the body before they become problematic as bodily imbalances can exist in the body for years without showing any symptoms.

Thus, these preventative maintenance tune-ups further strengthen your body’s resistance, keeping you healthy, balanced and potentially free from illness.

A lifestyle consisting of acupuncture, combined with regular exercise, a healthy diet & good habits, can keep you looking, feeling and performing at your best!

Treatments may be combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine, Moxabustion, Cupping, meditation, massage, Qi Gong or light exercise. These techniques are potentially added to the treatment protocol to further relieve symptoms, speed recovery time and pave the way toward health, vitality and longevity.

 **What is the difference between a licensed acupuncturist and a doctor or chiropractor who does acupuncture?

Licensed acupuncturists have completed a minimum of a 4 year full-time academic and clinical study dedicated to learning acupuncture and Chinese medicine with usually over 3,000 hours in professional and clinical training, earning a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate in Oriental Medicine.

Most Acupuncture schools require between 3,000-3,500 hours of academic and clinical training before graduation.

Also, Licensed acupuncturists should be NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) certified Diplomates in either Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine (includes certifications in BOTH Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine). To become a certified diplomate in Acupuncture &/or Oriental Medicine, candidates must sit for 5 National Board Examinations and must pass all 5 of the National Board Examinations which cover: 1) Chinese Medical Theory and Diagnosis, 2) Acupuncture Point Location, 3) Acupuncture Theory and Skills, 4) Chinese Herbal Therapy (Chinese herbal Formulas & Single Herbs), & 5) Western Biomedicine (Western Diagnosis & Disease Differentiation, Western Pathology, Western Pharmacology, & Anatomy and Physiology). A Minimum of 2,500 hours of Chinese Medical Education and Supervised Clinical training, plus graduation or pending graduation from an Accredited Acupuncture School is needed to sit for these National Board Examinations. The Colorado State of Regulatory Agencies regulates acupuncture in the state of Colorado. Only those who pass the NCCAOM Exams are awarded the title of “Licensed Acupuncturist” (L.Ac) by the state of Colorado.

The Acupuncture Association of Colorado (AAC) is the Professional Association for NCCAOM Board Certified – Licensed Acupuncturists in the state of Colorado. AAC Members are L.Ac and/or NCCAOM Diplomates in Oriental Medicine (Certified Diplomate in BOTH Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine) or NCCAOM Diplomates in Acupuncture (Certified Diplomate in Acupuncture).

**There are Different Standards for OTHER PRACTITIONERS Calling Themselves “Acupuncturists” in Colorado**:

Western Medical Doctors, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists who advertise that they practice acupuncture, for the most part, learn the basics of acupuncture with elective courses, usually only having a few hundred hours of academic and clinic training under their belts.

  • Chiropractors:Need only 100 hours of training, review 25 case histories, and NO EXAMINATION to legally “do acupuncture” in Colorado.
  • Medical Doctors (M.D.’s) & Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.’s):Have NO MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS for Training to “Do Acupuncture” in Colorado. They call themselves “Medical Acupuncturists”. There are classes, however, designed especially for physicians to learn “acupuncture”. These classes usually consist of roughly 350 hours of training.

We always recommend using a licensed acupuncturist who has earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate in Oriental Medicine and who is a certified Diplomate in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine, for the best results.