"I went to Dr. Chen for evaluation of back pain and sciatica. I saw an assistant doctor who asked a few questions. Dr. Chen came in and said, "sounds like you need an injection". He was in the room for all of 30 seconds. No explanation. I was told they would check with insurance and have an appointment in a week. I waited until two days before the projected appointment, and not having heard anything, began calling the office. The first day I got nowhere ("call back tomorrow"). The next day (the day before the appointment) I called twice more. I was told my insurance company would not approve the injection being done at the "Surgi-Center". They would do it in one of the doctor's three offices. The time was changed twice. I was originally told not to have anything to eat or drink, as I would have sedation. My appointment was finally scheduled for 1:00 P.M. I confirmed that I was still not supposed to eat or drink anything. Since I was supposed to have sedation, I would not be allowed to drive. I paid for an Uber ride there, and a family member would pick me up and drive me home. When I arrived, an assistant told me to lay face down on the table. The doctor would be in shortly. I asked, "am I going to receive sedation"? He said he would ask the doctor. Soon the assistant doctor from my first visit walked in, with two or three other men. No introductions were made, and no one asked if it was okay for them to observe. The doctor said, "there is no anesthesiologist here today, we will do it without sedation". I asked why no one had told me that ahead of time. He stated that anesthesia is provided at the Surgi-Center, not at the office. Again, I asked why I had not been told. No answer. I said that I had nothing to eat or drink all day, and had paid for an Uber ride to the office, and arranged for someone to pick me up. I could have just driven there myself. Lastly, I asked for an explanation of the procedure, which no one had given me. The only information I got was from You Tube videos I had watched the day before! At that point, I finally decided to leave the office without having the procedure. I did not trust anyone there to inject needles into my spine! It is the most disorganized and impersonal doctor's office I have ever been to. I definitely felt as if not one person there cared how I felt; I was just an object on the table and a payment in their pocket. It was a total nightmare. Now I am still in pain, and have to start all over to find another doctor."
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that is at least two thousand years old, although it has only recently gained popularity in North America. Practitioners of acupuncture are called acupuncturists. They may also provide other forms of TCM, or they may have learned acupuncture alone. In the United States, acupuncture providers must have three or four years of graduate level education to be licensed.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is filed with a vital energy called qi. When this energy becomes blocked or unbalanced, pain and illness result. To redirect the flow of qi, the acupuncturist inserts extremely thin, stainless steel needles (the width of a human hair) into a patient’s skin at specific points in the body (called meridians). A trained acupuncturist knows which meridians to insert the acupuncture needles into, how deeply to insert them, and how to stimulate them by raising or twisting them in order to balance the qi correctly.
Although researchers don’t know exactly how acupuncture works, they do have solid evidence that it does. Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture is effective at relieving pain, reducing nausea from chemotherapy, improving fertility, and reducing inflammation. The World Health Organization has stated that acupuncture is effective in treating 28 different conditions and may be helpful in treating many others. The Western medical view on acupuncture is not that qi is being balanced, but that the needles stimulate blood flow and endorphin production, which promote a sense of well-being.
During a typical acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist will first examine the patient and ask about any complaints. The patient will lie down on a table and get comfortable. Then the acupuncturist will insert the needles, which are between 13 and 70mm long and made of stainless steel. Usually a treatment uses between 3 and 15 needles, and they are left in place for about 20 minutes. Most states require the needles to be disposable, single-use needles to reduce the chance of any infection. The needles may be twisted or moved, and in some cases, low currents of electricity are passed through them. Then they are removed, the patient is given lifestyle advice, and the appointment is over. Sessions are often repeated weekly or every other week.
Acupuncture has many benefits. Since it is extremely safe and has no side effects, it can be an excellent alternative to pain medications for those patients who cannot or choose not to take them. In addition, acupuncture is now covered by the majority of health care insurance plans in the United States. Acupuncture can be a wonderful option in your treatment plan.