Frequently Asked Questions

Why see a Licensed Acupuncturist instead of a Doctor, Chiropractor, or Physical Therapist?

Arkansas Licensed Acupuncturists (L.Ac.) are required to graduate from a nationally certified school of Oriental Medicine and a four-year course of study that has approximately 4000 hours of training, including 800 hours of hands-on clinical training. L.Ac.’s are also required to pass 2 national certification exams in acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. In addition, L.Ac.’s are required to take a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education every two years.

By contrast, Chiropractors are required to take a 100 hour course to perform acupuncture. Physical therapists are doing acupuncture (dry needling) with 12-24 hours of training. Arkansas medical doctors have no minimum requirements.

What is acupuncture and what does it do?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of healing that uses tiny steel needles inserted into specific points on the body along lines or “meridians” that cover the body like a map. The needles stimulate these points to increase blood flow to certain areas and facilitate healing.

It is great for treating pain anywhere in the body. Most people know that acupuncture is great for treating pain (back, neck, headaches), but it treats many other problems. Common issues that patients come in for are digestive problems (stomach aches, IBS, constipation, reflux, nausea), respiratory problems (asthma, cough, allergies, sinus, colds), infertility and medically assisted fertility treatments (IVF, IUI), skin issues, circulatory issues and many more.

What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?

Dry needling originally came about when physical therapists were doing injections into trigger points on the body with hypodermic needles. Subsequent research showed that the effect they were getting was not from the substance that was being injected, but from the needle stimulation itself. After a while, they realized that because of the size of the hypodermic needles, the treatments were painful, so they switched to using the smaller and much less invasive acupuncture needles.

Trigger points are acupuncture points called “ashi” points. So, PT’s are using acupuncture needles on acupuncture points but calling the procedure something else. They manipulate the trigger point while the needle is in and once they feel it has released, the needle is removed. In acupuncture, the needles are inserted and then left there for some time to promote relaxation and healing. PT’s try to differentiate it by saying that dry needling is a “biomedical” treatment that affects nerves and muscles, whereas acupuncture is an “energetic” treatment affecting “chi” (energy) and “meridians”. While it is true that Chinese medicine uses these terms, the system was developed before western medical terms were developed. Dry needling was created based on western medicine within the last century, while acupuncture has been around for more than 2000 years. More importantly, when you stick an acupuncture needle into a patient, the patient’s body does not react based on what we call it. The difference between acupuncture and dry needling is essentially training, terminology, and length of treatment.

What can I expect from my first visit? How long does it take? Does it hurt?

During your initial visit, you will fill out paperwork and then we sit down and talk. We’ll cover your main complaint(s), medical history, and any other pertinent information.

The first visit takes about an hour and a half. The subsequent visits take about an hour. Usually a recommendation of 3-10 treatments because each person’s healing rate is different.

Treatments are better closer together (in China they will treat you daily), so the closer the treatments the better. 2-3 times per week for more severe issues and faster healing.

Everyone wants to know if it hurts. All the needles are sterile, used once and disposed. The needles are so small that several can fit into the hole of a normal hypodermic needle. Most people don’t feel anything. Some people are more sensitive, but once the needles are in they are barely noticeable. Some even feel a warming or melting sensation. The goal is to have you experience a comfortable and relaxing treatment. In fact, almost everyone comments on how relaxed they are after a treatment. Some fall asleep due to the level of relaxation.

What is cupping and what does it do? Does it hurt?

Cupping is a manual therapy using suction cups to increase circulation, release tension, and loosen muscles and fascia by releasing “stuck blood”. It is an ancient therapy common to many cultures including China and the Middle East. Typically a flame is inserted into a glass cup burning out the oxygen, removed, and the cup is quickly placed on the skin. Sometimes plastic cups with a hand pumps are used. The cups can stay in place, or used with oils and moved around. The basic difference between cupping and massage is that massage pushes and a cup pulls.

While it typically leaves a mark similar to a bruise, it does not hurt and is very relaxing. Most people have seen the cupping marks on athletes and celebrities.

Why would I need to take Chinese Herbs?

Chinese Herbal Medicine has been used for centuries as a full pharmacy for practically all ailments. In fact, many of our western drugs were developed from plants. Chinese herbs can enhance the effect of acupuncture treatments, or be used as a stand-alone therapy. There are many categories of Chinese herbs; blood movers, stopping bleeding, cooling, warming of the body, getting rid of toxins, boosting the immune system. Most herbs come in formulas of several herbs combined for synergistic effect. Originally, leaves, sticks, roots, minerals, or parts of animals were cooked into a soup for the patient to drink (and many still use this method), but modern forms of herbs are taken as pills of granules.

As herbs are medicine with healing properties, they can also be misused and can cause problems if certain herbs are used with certain pharmaceuticals. You should NEVER use Chinese Herbal Medicine without first consulting a Licensed Acupuncturist who is trained in the interactions between herbs and pharmaceuticals.

Can I expect any side effects?

There are very few side effects with acupuncture. The most common is occasional bruising. Sometimes when patients are healing, the area of pain may get worse for a few hours, but this is rare.

As a matter of fact, most people experience what we call “side benefits”; calmer, more focus, better sleep, better digestion, and more energy. A lot of patients will say they feel better overall, in addition to their main complaint diminishing.

Do you take insurance?

We do not bill insurance. However, we have forms that you can submit to your insurance for reimbursement if you are covered. Each plan is different, so check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover acupuncture. Plans from outside of Arkansas more commonly pay for acupuncture treatments.