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Understanding Acupuncture Treatment and Benefits

Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system originated over 3,000 years ago and used in a diverse array of healthcare settings. Today, acupuncture treatment continues to step further into the spotlight as a great option to treat issues such as migraines, musculoskeletal pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, infertility, hormonal imbalances, allergies, neuropathy, hormonal imbalances, fertility, digestive issues, and so much more! We offer acupuncture treatment and services through our Integrative Therapy program at Wentworth-Douglass.

The scientific community is making strides in performing research to help us understand acupuncture benefits and how it works in terms of Western physiology. What we do know is that acupuncture has been shown to positively affect the nervous system, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and help signal the body to release important feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. In short, acupuncture helps engage your parasympathetic nervous system, most commonly known as the responsive “rest and digest” state. Our day to day lives commonly lure us into the reactive “fight or flight” mode of our sympathetic nervous system, which keeps us from being able to be in the present moment and thoughtfully respond.

Considering all these proven benefits, many people are curious to try acupuncture treatment for a variety of issues and conditions, and more insurance companies are beginning to cover these services. If you’ve never had acupuncture before, here’s what you can expect at your first visit.

When you come for a visit your acupuncturist will sit and talk with you about your health history and treatment goals. An acupuncture treatment plan will be designed after better understanding your unique health conditions. Your history is important because it helps your acupuncturist to understand what the root cause of your condition might be and how it relates to your current symptoms. Acupuncture can address multiple issues in a single treatment, so the approach is multifaceted when choosing the specific points that are right for you.

When the treatment begins, a very thin, sterile, single-use needle is inserted into acupuncture points spread across the body. Your acupuncturist will clean the area of skin prior to insertion with an alcohol swab. The insertions are relatively painless with most patients not feeling anything at all and others feeling a little pinch or ache that goes away after a few seconds. Once the needles are in place you will rest for up to 30 minutes. You will have an option to lie on your back or stomach on a comfortable treatment table or to rest in a reclining chair. Your level of comfort in combination with what we are treating will help guide the decision for which position is best for you.

The acupuncture points are chosen with the unique goal of stimulating your body's innate ability to restore balance and promote healing. This process adjusts and alters the body's energy flow into healthier patterns and is used to treat a variety of illnesses and health conditions. These acupuncture points are located on meridian pathways that link together and help to maintain balance in your system. The meridians carry energy, referred to as Qi in Chinese medicine, through the body and impact blood circulation. A good analogy is to think of them like rivers that are flowing through the body. When we are in a state of balance, these pathways are flowing smoothly. Generally, this means that we feel a sense of wellbeing, our stress levels reduce, our body's systems are working well, and we feel connected to our environment. Your acupuncturist’s overall goal is to optimize your wellbeing.

We typically recommend coming for treatment 1 –2 times per week for your first 6 visits. Acupuncture treatments have an accumulative effect, so it is important that we cluster the visits together in the early stages. When we see consistent improvement, we will then spread the visits apart according to your body’s responsiveness. Some patients will return for maintenance treatments once a week, month, seasonally, or come as needed. This is unique to each individual and what their condition is. Acupuncture isn’t the right fit for everyone, and some people tend to respond better than others. We should be making good headway within your first 5 visits. If not, we would then assess and decide a course of action.

Wentworth- Douglass Hospital offers acupuncture treatment and services to the community in our private practice on the hospital campus. We also provide complimentary acupuncture to patients undergoing treatment in the Seacoast Cancer Center. We work with multiple insurance carriers.

Our board-certified, licensed acupuncturists are happy to answer any questions you may have. Please call Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Integrative Therapy at 603-740-2130 (choose option 2) to learn more.

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