Depending on your current situation and beginning acupuncture treatment, there is some important information to know and understand. Acupuncture works best in a series of treatments. One treatment will not be an instant cure. You will need multiple treatments to reduce pain, break blockages, and increase well being. Our goal to get a few treatments in early in a series is to expedite results with close treatments.
First, is if your chief complaint is either acute or chronic. Here is roughly how treatment plan is designed. Each treatment builds upon the previous treatment. Pain diminishing and your well being increasing is the plan. We will evaluate progress at the beginning of every new treatment to determine your goals and needs.
Acute illness patients are those where the pain or illness is recent, short term up to 3 to 6 months. You will need to do a series of 3 treatments. Either 3 close treatment within a 2 week period or one a week for 3 weeks until symptoms subside. Then we can move to every two weeks with evaluation on progress. Lastly monthly maintenance treatments. Estimated amount of treatments less than 10.
Chronic illness patients are patients that have experienced illness for 6 months to years. Chronic illness patients will need a series of 3 treatments every few days to at least once a week for 3 weeks or until pain and symptoms subside. Then we move you to less frequent treatments with evaluation on progress. As you get better, we can switch to every two weeks to finally to one month maintenance. Estimated amount of treatments is 10 or more.
Understanding treatment plan helps with patient improvement, diminishing pain, breaking up blockages, so you get what acupuncture helps most with. You may feel better after one treatment, but pain could come back in a few days. By treating every few days or consistently every week we will bring pain, signs, and symptoms to a minimum. You can also expect that there may not be any changes at first or even more pain from the treatment. This is why it is so important to follow through with the treatment plan. It is not designed to make you dependent on acupuncture.
Plan/homework: Be sure to eat healthy, be open to listen to your body, and try some low-impact exercise like qigong or taiji at home. That in addition to acupuncture, can help you achieve a better quality of life.
4 Pillars of Chinese Medicine: Diet and herbs, Acupuncture, Tui-na (Chinese massage), and Qigong are the 4 pillars of Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture works best with lifestyle adjustments. First with diet and herbal information. Tui-na and Qigong methods can be done as well. Qigong and Tai Chi (a dynamic qigong) are forms of exercise, stretching, and breathing techniques. Tui-na is a great way to learn about acupoints and massage.
Diet and herbs: Diet is #1 source of vital energy as this has a huge impact on your recovery, healing, and results with acupuncture. Please be sure to try to eat healthy meals prior to acupuncture treatment. Make efforts to maintain healthy lifestyle with good diet and exercise. Our diet recommendations are here: stick to warm and cool foods and avoid cold and hot foods. Try to cook by steaming, simmer, soups, stews, and boiling. Avoid cold category raw vegetables and salads, tropical fruits (unless you live in tropics) as well a hot category barbecue, spicy, oily and greasy foods including deep fried, baked, and grilled. Sugar, salts, and fats should be regulated and get a good amount of anti-oxidants. Drink plenty of water. Eat 3 meals a day and at the same time each day, the spleen likes regularly timed meals. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast which should be between 7-9am (the Stomach time in Oriental medicine). Herbal formulas may be suggested to assist in your treatment plan. The herbs have a supplemental benefit where foods do not.
Acupuncture: small filiform needles are inserted in acupoints either along channels, in a specific area, or where there may be a pain spot. The classic points are on channels (often called meridians) and they have a impact on respiratory, digestion, endocrine system, skin, nervous system, circulatory system, and more. Some extraordinary points have specific uses but are not on channels. Then there are “Ashi” points that are on pain sports, trigger points, tender points, or muscle spasms. All these various points helps to restore balance to the channels, blood circulation, and overall health. Channels can be viewed as roads, these roads can be damaged, flooded, have traffic jams, and need a traffic cop or road repair crew. We want to repair the roads and move traffic along and that is the job of an acupuncturist.
It is perfectly healthy to be skeptic about acupuncture. I encourage people to question everything. What I explain to patients who want a western medicine explanation….remove the word “qi” and replace it with blood. You don’t have to believe in channels and meridians, just believe in science: blood circulation, blood vessels, nerves, fascia, hormones, and lymph vessels are real. All acupoint are at junctions of some of these especially nerve and blood vessels. Body chemistry like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and various hormones like testosterone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone and more are stimulated by the tiny filiform needle. Some of these area have a affect on the 11 body systems: respiratory, circulation, digestion, nervous, endocrine, reproductive, muscular, skeletal, integumentary (skin, hair, nails), lymphatic/immune response, and urinary. Somehow through centuries, acupuncturists have it down to a science how various areas and acupoints on the body make a change. This change causes a balance.
Tui-Na is many things including massage, acupressure, joint manipulation, muscle and fascia techniques to promote healing. Incorporating massage is very important as palpation is a way of diagnosis. If you have tight muscles, pain spots, tender areas, or knots (trigger points), these are an important indication of imbalance. I may scan your back, arms, legs, and abdominal region on acupoints and along channels to find these troublesome areas. More about Tui-Na can be found here;
Finally Qigong and Tai Chi: There are many types of Qigong, but one thing almost all have in common is concentration of breathing in lower diaphragm. This area is called “Dan Tian” in China and “Hara” in Japan. It is where we cultivate Qi (vital energy). We may ask you to breath this way in acupuncture treatment. Dan tian or lower diaphragm breathing helps to stimulate the vagus nerve which has a calming effect on the heart and lungs. Most stressed people are taking short shallow breaths in the chest. With dan tien breathing, you will get more oxygen into the blood and calm the mind. There is a saying in Qigong. “Use the mind to move the Qi, use the qi to move the body.” It is very important to put the mind in Dan tien and breathe from there.
Also we will prescribe some methods. Ba Duanjin (Eight Brocade qigong) in the link below is a great beginner Qigong. It also has some Tui-na massage at the end. If you like meditation, we believe Vipassana is a simple non-religious practice to observe breathing and calm the mind.
Tai Chi is a very dynamic Qigong that is a martial art. By far it is my favorite method here as daily practice yields great rewards. It is meditation in motion, medication in motion, and acupuncture in motion. It is difficult to learn, but with perseverance, and diligence you can become proficient over time. For beginners we recommend trying the warm-ups and the standing neigong exercise to start off.
Book acupuncture and Acu-Massage (tui-na and acupuncture) appointments with Matt at Nova Acupuncture or Palmarcare:
Alexandria Virginia Nova Acupuncture:
Saturday 8:30 am to 5pm.
3343 Duke st. Alexandria Virginia. 703-259-9193
Patient portal link: