Let's first define the terms. 'Acupuncture' comes from the Latin 'acus' (point) and 'punctura' (to prick) From Webster's online dictionary: Main Entry: acu·punc·ture Pronunciation: ak-yoo-puhngk-cher Function: noun Date: 1684 An originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease or relieve pain. This seems as good a quick definition as any. We'll offer up another with a little more detail: Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most common and dependable medical therapies used in the world. It is by nature simple, safe and effective health care. Acupuncture practitioners use thin, sterile disposable needles inserted superficially into specific areas of the body in order to help the body's ability to heal itself. Over the three decades or so in which acupuncture has gained popularity in the United States, it has been proven by an increasing body of scientific evidence to be not only exceptionally safe, but statistically effective as well.

People get acupuncture for many different reasons. For our purposes, we'll offer two main answers to this question.

A) Here is a list of conditions the World Health Organization has deemed appropriate for treatment with acupuncture. (skip down to page 23 of this 1979 report)

B)  The most common ailments presented to an acupuncturist tend to be pain related conditions. For example; arthritis, back, neck, knee and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that is capable of diagnosing and successfully treating a wide range of conditions including:

(This is by no means a complete list of what Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.)

Athletic sprain/strain, acute back and/or neck strain, temporal mandibular disorder (TMJ), Bell's palsy, headaches (including migraines), palpitations, early stages of cold/flu, asthma, tendinitis, arthritis, insomnia (poor sleep), Raynaud's, anxiety, high levels of stress, addictions, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, hemorrhoids, many gynecological issues (including PMS), herpes zoster (shingles) and pre-/post-surgery for accelerated healing.

Absolutely not. You only have to believe enough to show up a few times in order to give yourself the chance to see positive changes.
Yes, acupuncture is very safe when performed by licensed acupuncturists with adequate training. If you have heard any horror stories about acupuncture being dangerous, these cases often involve individuals who do not have proper training or had notable personal/ ethical issues. In the United States, and more specifically Washington, acupuncture is regulated by state boards (for Washington's board see http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/EastAsianMedicinePractitioner). Whether you see Tom or another acupuncturist, it is important that you see a licensed acupuncturist with the proper training to avoid injury. Other health professionals in some states are allowed to perform acupuncture with minimal training (anywhere from 100-300 hour courses). Acupuncturists receive close to 1000+ hours of training and clinical time working specifically with the safe application of acupuncture needles. It is deeply concerning to acupuncturists that other professionals, aside from acupuncturists, use acupuncture without enough training. Acupuncture has risks of injury when not applied appropriately, injuries that usually do not occur with trained, experienced acupuncturists. It is important to inform the practitioner of your medical history, medications and if you are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant, as acupuncture treatment may have to be modified or may not be appropriate.
Acupuncture is the stimulation, by insertion of needles, of specific points on the body which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones. Acupuncture affects the functioning of the hormonal system, promotes a decrease in inflammation, increased circulation and relief from pain.
Many people start to see a significant difference within one to two treatments but some take longer to respond depending on the condition being treated. If no difference is felt by the end of the fifth or sixth treatment, the diagnosis of the condition should be reconsidered and further medical investigations may be needed. Acute injuries are treated as soon as possible and often daily at first. Chronic conditions may need repeat maintenance treatments to maintain the momentum after an initial period of frequent treatments. Post treatment exercise and discipline in diet is extremely important for continued improvement and recovery. Generally treatments every second day (Mon, Wed and Fri) would be considered frequent treatment. Maintenance treatments could range from weekly to monthly or when symptoms begin to recur.
Acupuncture is usually a very comfortable treatment. Needles are very fine, metallic and as thin as a hair, making them quite painless upon insertion. Everyone experiences acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or very minimal pain as the needles are inserted. You may experience a mild aching sensation or warmth around the needle site.
Strenuous physical activities (including exercise) should be avoided for at least two hours after treatment. A good feeling after acupuncture should not be mistaken for full recovery. Be sure that you have regained your strength and stamina before engaging in any activities that you were unable to perform before your acupuncture treatments.
  1. Come with any questions you have, we're here to help you.
  2. Wear loose, comfortable clothing for easy access to acupuncture points.
  3. Don't eat large meals just before or after your visit.
  4. Refrain from overexertion, drugs, or alcohol for up to 6 hours after the visit.
  5. Avoid stressful situation. Make time to relax and be sure to get plenty of rest.
  6. Between visits, take notes of any changes that you may have experienced.
Try to arrive rested and relaxed for your treatment. Eat a light meal prior to treatment, and avoid consuming caffeine or nicotine for 90 minutes before and afterwards. You should continue to take any prescribed medications on schedule.
Acupuncture is used for a broad range of health issues including chronic and degenerative diseases as well as acute conditions and pain. Acupuncture can benefit the immune system by strengthening it if it is weak, or by moderating it if it is overactive. The following list is just a sample of health issues I have treated with acupuncture:
  • Facial Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders(TMD)
  • Contracture of Joint/Spasm of Muscle
  • Shoulder Pain/Frozen Shoulder
  • Back Pain/Low Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia/Myofacial
  • Pain/Neuralgia/Neuritis/Radiculitis
  • Headache/Migraine
  • Neuropathies
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Automobile and Sports Injuries
  • Arthritis/Osteoarthritis
  • Tendonitis/Tennis Elbow
  • Stress, Depression and Insomnia
  • Menopause Syndrome/PMS
  • Gynecological Disorders
  • Infertility in Males and Females
  • Bell's Palsy/Pareses following a stroke
  • Allergies, Respiratory Diseases
  • Skin Diseases
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Digestive System Problems/Constipation/IBS/ Nausea/Vomiting
  • Cancer Treatment Support
  • Immunity Enhancement

Note: The above includes the more common ailments treated. It is not a complete list. If your ailment does not appear on this list, it does not mean it can not be treated by acupuncture. Please contact me to discuss it.

Tucson Acupuncture Center is now an in-network provider for United HealthCare. For other Insurance companies we are an out-of-network provider and will bill insurance for you if your insurance policy covers acupuncture. Among Tuscon employers with plans that may cover acupuncture are: Banner, Costco, Geico, Intuit, Raytheon Missle Systems... others employers may provide acupuncture insurance as well. Medicare does not cover acupuncture - unless you have a supplemental plan through United HealthCare. To verify if your insurance policy covers acupuncture please fill out the downloadable intake forms (above) and bring them to your first appointment.