Common Questions and Answers
Our acupuncture practice in Gainesville, Florida is committed to providing integrated medical treatment for the whole person. Chinese medicine is a holistic system that addresses a wide variety of ailments through one comprehensive diagnosis and treatment model. We are delighted to serve as acupuncture physicians for all of North Central Florida.
Call for an appointment:
Bethany Bechtel, AP, PhD 352-222-3816 | Faith McCarthy, AP, RN 352-222-3824
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?Acupuncture is a technique which uses traditional theories of Chinese medicine that have been under continuous development and improvement since ancient times. Acupuncture treatments are designed to bring your body back to a state of balanced health. This is sometimes expressed in terms of balancing the flow of “Qi” (chee), the Chinese word for “breath” or the vital life force that circulates in the body according to a variety of pathways.
An acupuncture practitioner uses needles to manipulate specific points on the body where the Qi is most accessible. Treatments may also involve the technique of moxibustion which involves the warming of the acupuncture points using the herb artemisius bulgaris, or mugwort.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP?Some of the more common conditions that we treat in our practice are:
Since acupuncture works by restoring the body’s own natural balance, it is potentially beneficial for any health condition. Acupuncture is best used as a preventative medicine to correct imbalances before they lead to disease. However, many patients do not seek acupuncture until they are experiencing considerable physical discomfort. An acupuncturist will address emotional issues that accompany any physical ailment, thereby creating an integrated approach to patient health.
Patients can receive relief from a wide variety of conditions including: muscular skeletal issues, joint pain, headache, anxiety, respiratory allergies, digestive disorders, and pre- and post-surgery treatment. Acupuncture is helpful for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We also specialize in women’s health, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and postpartum treatments; dysmenorrhea; menopause; hot flashes; and other women’s health issues. We are the primary acupuncture clinic in North Florida offering acupuncture support for assisted fertility. We work in conjunction with the Shands Fertility Clinic in offering the protocols that have been shown to substantially increase the success of IVF and IUI treatments. We also work with doctors, midwives, women and their families in treating conditions which arise during pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, post-partum and breastfeeding.
HOW DOES AN ACUPUNCTURE PHYSICIAN MAKE A DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT PLAN?The first step we make in treatment is to make a diagnosis of your condition according to the understandings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). We pay special attention to the pulses, features of the tongue, and the patient’s history, symptoms and appearance. The goal of acupuncture is to recognize patterns of disharmony and to correct the imbalance through specific treatments that manipulate the flow of Qi, or energy, in the body. Two patients with the same diagnosis in Western medicine may present with different TCM diagnostic patterns. We formulate a different TCM treatment plan for each patient and select acupuncture points according to the TCM diagnosis.
IS ACUPUNCTURE COMPATIBLE WITH OTHER MEDICAL TREATMENTS?
Yes! Acupuncture is a perfect adjunct and can enhance the effectiveness of many other medical treatments. Acupuncture can be very effective in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, or in assisting in preparation for and recovery following surgery. If an acupuncturist suspects a serious medical condition, such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, she or he will refer the patient to an M.D. for evaluation.
DO YOU AUGMENT ACUPUNCTURE WITH OTHER TREATMENTS?Yes, acupuncture is a part of the comprehensive medical approach developed in China and Japan over thousands of years. This medical tradition continues to be updated by modern research and clinical practice. A vital component of this tradition is the use of herbal medical formulas to treat specific conditions and imbalances in the body. We are pleased to offer herbal formulas that meet the highest standards of quality. It is important to have your herbal formulas determined by qualified practitioners that can prescribe exactly what is required by your current condition.
There are other treatment approaches that can be highly effective when combined with acupuncture. These include herb formulas, therapeutic yoga and dietary advice.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT MY FIRST TREATMENT?Your first appointment will last an hour-and-a-half to two hours. We will ask you detailed questions about any pain or discomfort you may have and how long it has been bothering you. We will discuss the effectiveness of other treatments and medications you may have tried. We will go over your entire health history including and ask you about all aspects of your current health. We will inquire about problems related to your digestion (such as heart burn, bloating, and constipation). We will discuss your diet, appetite and sleep patterns. We will also ask you about any headaches or musculoskeletal issues that cause you pain or discomfort.
For women, we will need to go over any pregnancies you may have had. For menstruating women, we will want to know about the duration and regularity of your cycles as well as the heaviness of your bleeding. For women in menopause, we will ask about any issues you had with the menopausal transition as well any past problems experienced with your period.
Once your intake history is complete, we will look at your tongue under a very bright light. You will then lie down on the table and we will feel your pulse at the radial artery. This part of the exam will take a few minutes as we are not just measuring the rate of the pulse, but are assessing the quality of the pulse at various levels and positions.
The history, tongue, and pulses enable us to make a differential diagnosis within the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to your specific diagnosis, we will choose acupuncture points and make an individual treatment plan that is appropriate for you.
IS ACUPUNCTURE PAINFUL?Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are extremely thin. Insertion discomfort is minor and often times experienced as an insect-bite sensation. In many instances, patients do not feel the needle insertions at all. A sensation of heaviness or a tingling dissipating from the needled sites is common but not uncomfortable. Once all the needles are in most patients become very relaxed and many fall asleep during treatment.
HOW ARE ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES STERILIZED?By law all acupuncture needles are sterilized, disposable and for single-use only.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?Acupuncture is free from major side effects. Since a small number of patients become dizzy when treated on an empty stomach we recommend having something to eat before you come.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I RECEIVE TREATMENT?This will depend on your specific situation. We usually begin with weekly sessions and extend treatment intervals as symptoms improve. For severe conditions on-going weekly or bi-weekly treatment may be necessary to manage symptoms.
Acupuncture can also be part of your overall wellness program. Regular acupuncture treatments can reduce stress, enhance sense of well-being and enable minor symptoms to be addressed before they become more of a problem.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has emphasized the importance of wellness visits at the change of seasons to help the body transition from dry weather to the rainy season; or from warm weather to the cooler months. These treatments help the body to stay balanced and therefore less likely to succumb to colds, the flu, asthma, fatigue, hay fever and allergies.
I HAVE A VARIETY OF HEALTH PROBLEMS. CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP WITH MORE THAN ONE CONDITION?
TCM is a holistic system of medicine. Our comprehensive intake will cover all aspects of your health and your TCM diagnosis and treatment plan will be made accordingly. All health issues and ailments are addressed simultaneously in one comprehensive treatment approach.
IF I HAVE A COLD, OR THE FLU, OR AN UPSET STOMACH, SHOULD I STILL COME IN FOR MY APPOINTMENT?
Definitely! We can use acupuncture points to address these infectious ailments and get you back in shape.
WILL MY INSURANCE PAY FOR ACUPUNCTURE?
Many insurance plans cover acupuncture. We request that you pay at the time that you receive treatment. I will file the forms so that you can be reimbursed for that portion of the treatment cost for which you are eligible. Contact your insurance company to find out the details of your specific plan.
The Affordable Health Care Act contains a “non-discrimination” section mandating insurance companies reimburse treatment performed by any licensed health care professional working within their scope of practice. This means that you, the patient, should be able to select what type of practitioner to see for your health conditions. In reality, insurance companies still dictate what treatment modalities they will cover under each policy.