By choosing acupuncture, you've taken a great step toward a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. The ancient practices of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have helped millions of people regain and maintain their health.

Since this system of health care may be different than other care you've received, it's only nature to have questions. Read on to find out what to expect- and how to get the most out of your treatments.

Acupuncture and Your Health

Acupuncture and TCM take holistic, or whole body approach to health. This means your practitioner will take into account your whole self, not just your symptoms, in order to get tothe root of your health concerns. You will work together to find out how factors like your lifestyle and emotional and mental well-being may be affecting your health.

Getting the chance to really discuss your health concerns with your health care provider—and having your provider really listen—may be new to you. Think of it as your opportunity to form a partnership for better health. The more you take part in your healing process, the more successful it will be.

Getting the Most Out of Treatment

For the best treatment results, keep a few things in mind:

  • Please show up on time
  • Don't eat a large meal before your visit
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes
  • Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns with your acupuncturist
  • Refrain from overexertion, drugs or alcohol for at least six hours after treatment
  • Follow your treatment plan between visits
  • Keep all of your appointments, as each visit builds upon the previous ones

Your First Visit

Initial visits generally last from 30 to 90 minutes. Your acupuncturist will take a detailed health history and a physical exam, and will provide you with your unique treatment plan.

During the first exam, your acupuncturist will spend time getting to know you and your health concerns. You may be asked a wide range of questions about your symptoms, eating, exercise, sleep habits, and emotional states—anything that may offer insight into your health.

Your practitioner will also employ diagnostic tools that are unique to acupuncture and TCM such as tongue and pulse diagnosis. Your treatment plan Once your acupuncturist has gathered enough information, you'll receive a comprehensive diagnosis and a treatment plan that will explain:

  • Your underlying imbalances
  • Your time—line of care
  • What types of treatment you will receive

How Treatment Works

To treat any Qi imbalances, fine, sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways. Your acupuncturist will concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs, based on your unique issues and symptoms.

Your acupuncturist may include other related therapies in your treatment plan, such as cupping, Gwa Sha or moxabustion. Herbal remedies are another important aspect of acupuncture and TCM, and it is important to understand and follow your practitioner's directions in order to get the most benefit from these treatments.

Your Role in the Healing Process

Your actions are a key component of your treatment plan. Focusing on your health and committing to a healthy lifestyle are the best steps you can take for your well-being.

Together, you and your acupuncturist can health your imbalances and help you achieve harmony and balance.

Even after your symptoms are resolved, acupuncture can assist you in maintaining your health, and possibly prevent future imbalances. The more you incorporate acupuncture and TCM into your life, the more you'll learn
to nurture your body, mind and spirit.

Acupuncture is not an instant fix

True healing takes time and dedication. Depending on your current health and symptoms, you could feel better right away, or you
may need treatments for weeks, months or years to achieve the results you want. Your acupuncturist can give you an idea of what to expect. With a little patience and an open mind, you'll be on your way to health and vitality.

Acupuncture and TCM offer a safe and effective holistic health care system. This natural approach can both resolve symptoms and enhance overall health.

By taking the right steps and planting the seeds of health, you are on the road to a healthier you!

Acupuncture and Motor Vehicle Accidents

It happens without warning. One minute you're driving along, and the next minute you are in a motor vehicle accident.
Whether it is a minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, you could be left with pain and discomfort. Seeking care right away can make a major difference in your recovery and reduce the chances of long-term health problems. Acupuncture and Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM) offer a safe effective way to treat your health concerns and optimize your well-being after an automobile accident.

Common Injuries After an Accident

There are a variety of injuries that can occur after a motor vehicle accident. Some symptoms and injuries may appear immediately, others may take hours or even days to appear. Being in an auto accident is not something to take lightly. Below are common injuries that can occur:

Low Velocity Injuries – usually occur while driving under 10 mph, or being hit by a vehicle driving under 10 mph. These injuries usually cause muscle strain and seat belt bruises. Other symptoms may be delayed, but pain and stiffness may occur within 12 – 36 after the impact.

High Velocity Injuries – These injuries are sustained when your vehicle or another vehicle is travelling over 10 mph. Often times, injuries usually result from the body hitting objects in the car, such as the dashboard, window or the steering wheel. Common problems resulting from this kind of impact include head, shoulder or knee trauma; a variety of contusions, wrist fractures, neck sprains and concussions.

Traumatic Cervical Syndrome (Whiplash) – This type of injury occurs when the neck is forced into rapid movements faster than what your bones, ligaments and muscles can accommodate. This injury is usually referred to as whiplash, which is a non-medical term for a strain or sprain of the neck caused by sudden movement. Even a seemingly minor accident can cause soft-tissue and muscular-skeletal injuries such as whiplash.

Whiplash symptoms include:

  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Back pain
  • Pain in the shoulders or arms

Other symptoms can include memory loss, poor concentration, nervousness and irritability, sleeplessness or fatigue.

Whiplash Research

Growing evidence suggests that whiplash injuries are more common and take longer to detect than previously thought. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in a highway report that "whiplash neck sprain is the most frequently reported crash injury in U.S. insurance claims and that these injuries can occur in even minor traffic accidents of less than 20 mph."

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) reported in 2008 that British automobile insurance companies receive more than 1,200 whiplash claims per day and that 75% of all personal injury claims related to motor vehicle accidents involve whiplash claims. Recent studies have suggested that many whiplash injuries do not show up for years after an accident. In 2009, a Japanese study using longitudinal MRI found that degenerative changes were detected in the cervical spine of patients even ten years after whiplash injuries, who had no overt physical symptoms during this time.

Treatment Options

It is important to seek treatment promptly for any injuries and symptoms immediately after an accident. It may be a difficult decision to choose the right form of care to address your pain and discomfort. But it is an important decision to make in order to keep current injuries from becoming chronic. The good news is that you have choices. Depending on the type of injury, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy and acupuncture are the most commonly used treatment modalities. It is also common for patients to combine varying modalities for faster results and to be able to address different aspects of an injury.

How Acupuncture Can Help

Acupuncture and TCM have the ability to successfully aid in the healing of soft-tissue injuries, relaxing the muscles, relieving painful symptoms, helping your body regain its natural balance and vitality as well as alleviating any stress and anxiety.

Chinese Medical Theory – A fundamental statement from Chinese medical theory states, "If there is a free-flow, there is no pain." Based on this theory, facilitating the circulation and flow of blood and Qi (pronounced "chee") will eliminate pain and restore balance.

According to acupuncture and TCM, Qi is the life or vital energy that animates and strengthens the body. Qi flows through pathways called meridians (see diagram below) and pushes blood to all the body's organs, tissues, muscles and tendons to provide nourishment so that they can function optimally and respond to normal wear and tear.

In an accident, you may experience the physical trauma that disrupts and restricts the flow of Qi and blood, therein leading to pain, stiffness and a host of other problems. Acupuncture activates your body's self-healing and self-regulating capacities, helping to bring greater circulation to the area that is being treated and functions like a magnet for improved blood flow. Through acupuncture, a consistent flow of blood is restored, returning the muscle to a normal state of relaxation, flexibility and reduced pain.