Could Acupuncture Be Right for You?

Our Research Park Clinic is extremely fortunate to be the home of the UW Health Integrative Health department. One of the outstanding services available in this department is acupuncture. Like all of the Integrative Health services, acupuncture treatments are available to anyone.


We want you to meet one of our acupuncturists, Colleen Lewis. Colleen is a national board certified and state licensed acupuncturist. Her journey into Oriental Medicine began more than 25 years ago through the study of T'ai Chi and Qigong (Chinese therapeutic exercise). She employs a variety of therapies, including acupuncture, medical Qigong, yin bodywork, lymphatic drainage and education to assist a person's healing processes. We're delighted to have Colleen address some of the primary questions people ask about acupuncture.


What is acupuncture?


Acupuncture, a modality within traditional Chinese medicine, uses very fine (wire-like) needles to trigger a healing event in the body. It is effective for many acute or chronic illnesses and stimulates the natural healing process of the body.


Does acupuncture hurt?


Most people feel very little, depending upon the area treated and technique. It is not as intense as receiving an injection. American acupuncturists are well aware of people's fear of injections and syringes. Acupuncture needles are not the needles used with syringes.


Acupuncture needles are solid, not hollow, so they can be very fine and flexible. They are sharpened like a pencil (instead of like a scalpel) so they slide between muscle fibers. This means significantly less discomfort. Most people only feel a slight pinch when acupuncture needles are inserted, and many people don't even feel that.


How does acupuncture work?

According to traditional acupuncture, medical conditions are caused by interrupted or stagnant energy flow within the body. Acupuncture stimulates and harmonizes energy flow. This stimulates the body's "inner healer" and leads to feeling better. Studies show that acupuncture releases natural painkillers and directly affects areas of the brain that manage body functions. Ear therapy stimulates the vagus nerve, a major bioelectric pathway, to reduce pain.


What conditions are commonly treated?

Acupuncture treats everything from physical complaints to sub-fertility to autoimmune conditions. It can be used for dental and tattoo anesthesia. Many athletes use acupuncture to improve performance and to recover from injury. Recent studies tout its benefits for cardiac conditions. Acupuncture can improve immune function and optimize overall health.


What is an acupuncture treatment session like?

Share This StoryThe acupuncture client is made comfortable on a cushioned table, allowing access to the area to be treated, or in a chair if the person is unable to recline. Fine acupuncture needles are inserted in specific areas to trigger the healing events. The needles are left in for a specific time depending upon style of acupuncture while the client relaxes listening to soft music or enjoying the silence.


What are some physical conditions common to active adults that are successfully treated with acupuncture?

Any kind of trauma recovery, whether from injury or surgery, can benefit from acupuncture treatments. Some great examples include sports injuries, martial arts injuries and other issues arising from sports. Not only does it help manage injuries but it is used to enhance and improve performance.


Acupuncture is a valuable adjunct in weight management along with reasonable diet modifications and healthy movement. It helps decrease food cravings and increases resting metabolism.

Studies from the National Institute of Health and World Health Organization advocate acupuncture treatments for many types of back pain.

Acupuncture also has a long history of helping manage allergies. In most cases it reduces patient discomfort, shortens the length of allergic reactions, promotes better recovery and eliminates future allergic reactions. Studies from the NIH and WHO also validate acupuncture as a positive therapy for arthritis.


What if I don't want to take my clothes off? Or I don't want to be touched?

Most conditions can be treated with the client only removing the wristwatch, socks and shoes. Acupuncture is not massage. The therapist palpates for the correct placement spot but does not spend a lot of time rubbing or otherwise touching the client.


What if I don't want anyone to know what is wrong with me?

Your information is respected and is kept completely confidential. The same HIPAA laws apply here as in any health care setting. Your case will not be discussed without your permission.


We hope that you will seriously consider acupuncture as another instrument in your therapeutic toolbox helping you be the healthiest and happiest person possible.