Acupuncture, CUPPING AND GUA SHA FAQ

Acupuncture can treat many injuries, pain conditions and general health concerns. We focus in treating musculoskeletal disorders (pain) as well as many internal (digestive problems, allergies, common cold, concussion) and mental/emotional health concerns (anxiety, stress, depression, etc). Acupuncture can be a very powerful way to keep yourself healthy in a natural, holistic way. 

What is ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a healing art that was originally founded in China and is one of the oldest healing disciplines in the world – dating back at least 3,000 years. In short, acupuncture is a multifaceted discipline that primarily uses the insertion of tiny needles (about the width of an eyelash) into specific parts of the skin in order to stimulate the various systems of the body to work more efficiently.

How does it work?

By stimulating points on the skin, the brain is made aware of very specific portions of the body in need of more attention. This facilitates the ability to direct what we might call “nerve energy” (“Qi”) to related sections of the body. Oftentimes, and for reasons such as trauma, chemical, mental, or emotional stress, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, etc. there is a lessening of electrical energy, a sort of blockage running through various channels of our bodies. By calling the attention of the nervous system to these blockages, blood flow and healing can naturally follow.

How does the practitioner know where to insert the needles?

Part of what makes acupuncture so powerful is that it is very holistic in its focus. In other words, acupuncturists understand that symptoms are indicators of underlying causes. A skilled practitioner spends a great deal of time gathering as much information about you as possible in order to form a true picture of what systems of the body need to be supported in order to facilitate healing. Sometimes symptoms can help the acupuncturist discover and treat an underlying problem you were not even aware of.

Is it painful?

Rarely! Because the needles are so small, the vast majority of the time you don’t even know they are there. It is not uncommon to feel a slight prick upon insertion or removal of a given needle but the sensation is generally not very intense and usually doesn’t last more than a few seconds. You may be surprised to learn that an acupuncture treatment is actually quite relaxing and many people find it easy to take a nap during their treatments.

Who can benefit from Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a complete health system. Understanding that it is a way to initiate healing processes from the inside out, it’s easy to see why it can help with such a wide range of conditions. Some examples include over-training injuries, stress, PTSD, pain management, anxiety, PCS (post concussion syndrome), aching joints, allergies, digestive or skin disorders, infertility, common cold/flu and a host of other indications.

What can I expect on my first visit?

The first visit is usually a bit more lengthy. Because the information gathering is thorough, the length can be up to 90 minutes. Most follow-up visits last just under and hour.

How many treatments are necessary?

That depends greatly on what you have come in for, how long it has been a problem, and how diligent you are with implementing minor lifestyle changes that can greatly improve outcomes. Some people have heard great things expect miraculous results at their first visit. Understand that while many speak to the “magic” of acupuncture, results are more often gradual and steady. Typically you will begin to feel a significant difference after your first 2-3 treatments, with 6 treatments being an ideal “course” over 2-3 weeks. After you have made some progress, and if it is within your means, the goal is to reduce treatments to maintenance level at 1-2 visits per month, if necessary at all. This investment in your health keeps issues from resurfacing and maintains balanced physical health.

Is Acupuncture a quick fix?

The reality is that acupuncture is a health practice that aims to train your body to function correctly. It is not an external pill or stimulus that simply shuts off an alarm. It works from the inside out to say, “let’s figure out what’s wrong and get it working again.” We consider acupuncture to be a cumulative treatment, meaning one treatment builds on another. So the harder you treat or “train” up front, sets the standard and allows easy management later. If you were trying to get in shape, it’s easy to understand how you would put in more work initially, then maintain your physical health

Cupping is a therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to remove stagnation and stimulate the flow of qi (chi). Qi is the free flow of vital energy circulating through the body and the world around us, if the qi is disrupted or disturbed, it can create stagnation (blockages) or imbalances in the body.

What is CUPPING?

A therapeutic cupping treatment involves warming and placing cups, usually made of glass, on the skin. By warming the air within the cup, a vacuum is created, and when it is applied to the skin, the tissue is drawn up into the cup. This increases the blood flow, loosens the fascia or connective tissue, and is thought to stimulate healing. It is similar to the way deep tissue massage can be used to break up scar tissue and reduce pain. The cups are often placed on the back, neck, and shoulders or the site of pain. Cupping may cause temporary bruisingand soreness, depending upon the degree of suction created by the vacuum and the level of internal stagnation. According to TCM, this would be a favorable outcome, suggesting the treatment has successfully removed toxins and stagnation. The cups are removed by lifting one edge, which allows air in and breaks the seal and vacuum.

What are the different types of cupping?

Different types of cupping are selected based on the treatment goals of the acupuncturist. There are also different types of cups. Most commonly, cups are made out of glass. This technique involves placing the cup over an ashi (painful area) point or an acupuncture point along an energy meridian. The cups are left in place anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on the nature of the individual's condition.

The sliding cups technique is traditionally performed on large muscle groups of the back to treat pain and muscle spasm. Massage oil is applied to the skin prior to the cups being placed which allows the cups to glide easily over the surface of the skin.

With air cupping, an alternative to fire cupping, a handheld suction pump is used to remove air from the cups, creating the vacuum without heat. Some clinical research from China suggests this innovation in cupping technology is more comfortable for patients.

Wet cupping combines an acupuncture technique called bleeding with cupping. A lancet is used to prick the skin before the cup is applied, which encourages a small amount of blood to flow from the area. This treatment is thought to dispel internal toxins. TCM practitioners use this technique for "cooling" inflammatory conditions.

What is gua sha?

Gua sha may be used to treat muscle pain and can break down scar tissue.

Gua sha is the practice of using a tool to apply pressure and scrape the skin to relieve pain and tension. This action causes light bruising, which often appears as purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha.

The name gua sha — pronounced gwahshah — comes from the Chinese word for scraping. It may also be called skin scraping, spooning, or coining.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi or chi is energy that flows through the body. Many people believe that a person's qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure their health and wellbeing.