Acupuncture is a two thousand-year-old traditional Eastern holistic therapy that addresses your mental, emotional and physical health. After an in-depth personal assessment, Dr Oliver Grover, D.C., our expert acupuncturist administers fine needles at various points on your body in order to release areas of tension and restore your natural balance. Dr Grover works alongside leading medical practitioners who, like him, believe that a combination of Eastern and Western treatments is the most effective approach to achieving optimal health.
COMMONLY TREATED AILMENTS
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical problems. The most common ailments presented to acupuncturists in the U.S. are pain-related conditions. However, as the public becomes more educated about acupuncture and Oriental medicine, people are seeking help for a number of other conditions, with good results. These include:
- Addictions: Smoking, drugs, alcohol, food
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spastic colon, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, ulcers, abdominal bloating, hemorrhoids, spasms of esophagus and cardia, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief), acute duodenal ulcer (without complications), acute and chronic colitis
- Emotional and Psychological Disorders: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, stress
- Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Disorders: Sinusitis, sore throat, hay fever, earache, ringing in the ears, dizziness
- Gynecological and Genitourinary Disorders: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS); irregular, heavy or painful menstruation; endometriosis; menopausal symptoms; fibroids; chronic bladder infection; complications in pregnancy; morning sickness; impotence; infertility (men and women); sexual dysfunction
- Immune Disorders: Candida, chronic fatigue, Epstein Barr virus, allergies, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Miscellaneous: Chemotherapy/radiation side effects, diabetes, dermatological disorders, weight control
- Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders: Arthritis, neuralgia, sciatica, back pain, bursitis, tendonitis, stiff neck, Bell’s palsy (early stage, i.e., within three to six months), headaches and migraines, pareses following stroke, cerebral palsy, polio, sprains, muscle spasms, shingles, neuropathies, sequelae of poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months), Meniere’s disease, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, “frozen shoulder,” “tennis elbow,” sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis
- Respiratory Disorders: Asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, colds and flu
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
What will happen on my first visit?
Each person who performs acupuncture has a unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. To determine the type of acupuncture treatment that will help you the most, your practitioner needs to assess your general health and will ask you about your symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. It is also important for him or her to gather detailed information about your medical history and that of your family, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. The purpose is to identify what needs to be addressed in order to target your specific complaint. He or she may also closely examine:
- The parts of your body that are painful
- The shape, coating and color of your tongue
- The color of your face
- The strength, rhythm and quality of the pulse in your wrist
This initial evaluation and treatment may take up to 90 minutes. Subsequent appointments usually take 30-45 minutes. A common treatment plan for a single complaint would typically involve one or two treatments a week. Number of treatments will depend on the condition being treated and its severity, but six to eight treatments are common.
Stimulation of specific areas affects the functioning of various organs. However, those areas may not be close to the part of the body where you are experiencing a problem. For example, if you suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or hand. There are 365 specific acupuncture points on the body, and an unlimited number of non-specific points. An experienced acupuncturist will use a selection of these for each session. Often during the course of a few sessions, different points will be selected as the patient’s condition changes. Other techniques, such as electro-acupuncture, massage, or tapping with a rounded probe, are particularly suitable for small children or for people with a fear of needles.
During your treatment
Your acupuncture practitioner will tell you the general site of the planned treatment and if you need to remove any clothing. If appropriate, a gown, towel or sheet will be provided to preserve your modesty. You lie on a padded table for the treatment, which involves:
- Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are very thin, so insertion usually causes little discomfort. Between four and 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. You may feel a mild aching sensation when a needle reaches the correct depth.
- Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles after placement or apply heat or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
- Needle removal. In most cases, the needles remain in place for 20 to 30 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is usually no discomfort when the needles are removed.
How will I feel after acupuncture?
Some patients feel relaxed and calm, while others feel energized after an acupuncture treatment. You may feel tired or drowsy for a few hours if the experience is particularly strong. You may also experience a short-term flair-up of symptoms in the healing process. After a session, it is a good idea to sit quietly and relax. A gentle walk or very mild exercise can also be helpful. Avoid big meals, vigorous exercise, alcohol and stressful situations.
Not everyone responds to acupuncture. If your symptoms don’t begin to improve within a few weeks, acupuncture may not be right for you.
What should I do before treatment?
We recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing to receive acupuncture treatment. You should be aware that the acupuncturist may need to access points on your torso, arms and legs. It also helps to be in a calm state. Try to arrive 5 or 10 minutes before your appointment to give yourself a chance to relax.
Try to avoid the following:
- Eating a big meal within one hour of your appointment
- Fasting for more than six hours before your appointment
- Alcohol, tobacco, food or drinks that color your tongue (such as coffee) immediately prior to treatment or just following a treatment
- Vigorous exercise or sexual activity within the hour before treatmentWe also recommend that you avoid wearing any metallic jewelry, watches, or earrings. Makeup and nail polish should be minimized or eliminated. Please also avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or strongly scented cosmetics.
How long do appointments last?
The length of acupuncture sessions varies depending on your condition. Typically, your first visit will be longer than your subsequent visits, anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Follow-up sessions can be as short as 30 minutes to as long as an hour.
How many sessions will I need?
Length, number and frequency of sessions vary. For most conditions, a series of several sessions is necessary to achieve the maximum benefit. After an initial consultation, the acupuncturist should provide you with a treatment plan that includes the techniques to be used, as well as the frequency and duration of treatment.
A typical series of sessions consists of 6 to 12 visits, once or twice a week, with sessions lasting 30 to 60 minutes each. Acute conditions, such as sprains, generally require less time and frequency, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several (or several dozen) sessions. Appointments are scheduled further and further apart after the optimal response has been achieved. Some people experience great benefits from weekly or monthly sessions.
HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
Acupuncture achieves the desired results by stimulating specific points near or on the surface of the skin – acupuncture points – that have the ability to alter biochemical and physiological conditions in the body. Because acupuncture points are designated areas of electrical sensitivity, inserting needles at these points stimulates sensory receptors. This in turn stimulates nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain. The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones (thought to be some 200 times more potent than morphine). Endorphins play a significant role in the hormonal system, which is why acupuncture is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, PMS and infertility. The substances released as a result of acupuncture relax the body, and also regulate serotonin in the brain, which affects emotional states. Other physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count, which supports the immune system.
Western science posits that acupuncture triggers three primary mechanisms in the body:
- Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of pain-reducing opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture.
- Changes in brain chemistry: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by altering the way in which neurotransmitters and neurohormones are released. Acupuncture has also been documented to affect sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes involved in regulating blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature. Modulation of subcortical structures of the brain may be an important mechanism by which acupuncture exerts its complex multisystem effects.
- Changes in blood flow: Acupuncture and Oriental medicine affects the circulation of blood to the affected area, which helps to remove pain-causing chemicals and restore normal function.
Do I have to believe in order to obtain results?
No. As a case in point, acupuncture works very well for horses, dogs and cats, most of whom probably don’t “believe” in acupuncture. It is always beneficial to have confidence in your practitioner, but faith in a particular technique is not necessary to obtain results.
Are there risks or side effects to acupuncture?
The acupuncture needle is a fine, disposable (one-time use), sterile, FDA-approved medical device. While acupuncture is a highly safe form of physical medicine, there are a few risks. These include bruising, fainting, muscle spasms, bleeding, and nerve damage (extremely rare).
DR. OLIVER GROVER, D.C.
Chiropractor and Acupuncturist
Dr. Oliver Grover, D.C. combines the most advanced chiropractic diagnostic medicine with expert technique to alleviate common ailments like back and neck pain, disc herniations, spinal stenosis and sciatica. His approach when it comes to patient care is to determine the root cause of dysfunction and tailor an effective and targeted treatment plan. Common treatment modalities include manual therapy, diversified manipulation, flexion distraction, manual decompression, mechanical traction, electrical muscle stimulation, and neuromuscular re-education. Read more about Dr. Oliver Grover.