Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does Acupuncture work?

There are pathways of energy flowing through the body, carrying nourishment and information to all tissues and organs. Disease occurs when some factors disrupt the normal flow of life force. And acupuncture is to restore the normal flow of life forces and re-establish health. Modern scientific research has also confirmed that acupuncture promotes the production of natural healing substances to relieve pain, regulate nerve transmission, enhance the immune system, regulate hormones and blood flow, release natural anti-inflammatories, relax muscle spasm and elevate mood.

Is Acupuncture suitable for me?

Acupuncture can be used to treat an enormous variety of conditions from sporting injuries to digestive upsets or even the common cold. Anyone from newborns to the elderly can benefit from a course of treatment. Acupuncture is a very safe and effective form of medicine with a history of many thousands of years. It can be used not only for the treatment of conditions or illnesses but also to help keep you well and prevent illness taking hold.

What should I do before treatment?

It is better to avoid drinking coffee or eating a large meal immediately prior to acupuncture but don't arrive at the clinic feeling really hungry, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cigarettes, caffeine or recreational drugs make it more difficult for your practitioner to accurately diagnose your condition.

What happens during a typical treatment?

Chinese Medicine is a wholistic treatment and I take an extensive case history, covering every aspect of your health, diet and lifestyle before making a diagnosis. This may include asking seemingly unrelated questions about such things as your response to changes in the weather, your menstrual cycle even if the condition you are attending for is not related to your cycle or whether you sleep with your feet out from under the blankets! Your answers will help identify patterns of disharmony which will allow me to make a more accurate diagnosis. I also take your pulse on both wrists and may ask to look at your tongue as both provide valuable information about your constitution and presenting condition.

After making a diagnosis I decide the appropriate treatment. This may be acupuncture or Chinese herbs separately or in combination or may include the use of moxibustion, tui-na, guasha, hand acupuncture or ear acupuncture. I may also make recommendations regarding your diet and lifestyle.

In comparison to needles which are used for an injection or to take blood, acupuncture needles are very fine - not much thicker than a human hair. A typical treatment involves the insertion of 8-10 acupuncture needles into points which may be selected either close to the affected area or as far away from it as possible. But I often use more needles than 10 to make the treatment more effective. The needles must stay in place for approximately 20-25 minutes, during which time most people drift into a state of deep relaxation or may even go to sleep.

Will it hurt?

Most new patients are amazed how painless acupuncture is - the thought is worse than the reality. When the correct stimulus of the needle has been obtained and the Qi has been activated, the patient may feel some heaviness, distension, tingling or electric sensation either around the needle or travelling up or down the affected energy pathway or meridian.

Is Acupuncture safe? Any side effects?

Acupuncture is very safe when practised by a qualified practitioner. After four or more years of full time training, members of NZRA have an in-depth knowledge of Chinese Medicine and the meridian system as well as anatomy and physiology from a Western medical perspective. All members of NZRA must use sterile single use needles and abide by the Clinical Guidelines of the organisation. Basically there are no adverse effects from acupuncture if properly operated. Occasionally a small bruise may occur at the site of the needle insertion but this is not usually painful and will clear in a few days.

Remember that the acupuncture treatment done by any one not fully trained in Chinese medical field is very likely either ineffective or even dangerous, or both.

What should I do after a treatment?

Energetic changes in the body will continue for some time after the needles have been removed so it is preferable to avoid any strenuous activity immediately after treatment. To avoid undoing the effects of the treatment it is also better not to consume any alcohol or recreational drugs.

How will I feel after acupuncture?

Depending on the type of treatment you have received, you may feel very relaxed and calm or you may feel revitalized and more clear-headed. It is not unusual to feel like resting after a treatment and occasionally your symptoms may flare for a short time before settling. Generally the effects of the treatment will be more obvious the following day.

Should I tell my doctor?

Yes - it is possible that a course of acupuncture may reduce your need for some medications so it is essential that your GP is aware that you are receiving treatment. Most medical doctors are supportive of acupuncture treatment and it is better for you if all your healthcare practitioners are able to work together.

Should I tell the acupuncturist of any medications I am taking?

Yes - when taking your history, I will ask you about any medication you are taking. Many pharmaceutical drugs have noticeable effects on the pulse and as this is one of the diagnostic tools I use, it is important that I am aware of your medications. It is also possible that some of your symptoms are side effects of the medication you are taking and it is helpful for me to be alerted to this.

Should I continue to take my medication whilst having acupuncture treatment?

It is very important to continue your medication. There can be serious consequences from suddenly stopping some pharmaceutical drugs. Whilst it is possible to use acupuncture to reduce the need for some medications, this should only be done in full consultation with your GP.

Is acupuncture treatment covered by ACC?

Yes. ACC has recognized NZRA members as Treatment Providers since 1990. Once you have had a claim accepted by ACC you can then choose to go to a qualified acupuncturist for treatment. It is not necessary to have a referral from your GP or other Treatment Provider - the choice is yours.

It is not appropriate for any other Treatment Provider to suggest that you should not have acupuncture treatment for your injury. If this is suggested then please let NZRA or ACC know so that this can be followed up.

It is important to note that ACC will only cover the treatment of a specific injury. You should not expect your practitioner to treat conditions other than your injury under ACC.

Why should I go to a member of NZRA for treatment?

Members of NZRA are required to meet the highest entry level qualification of all acupuncture practitioners in New Zealand. They are also required to complete 20 hours of Continuing Education every year in order to maintain their Annual Practising Certificate and must abide by the Rules and Ethical Guidelines of the organisation. If the acupuncturist you choose is a member of NZRA then you can be sure that you are in the safe hands of a competent practitioner.

How do I choose an acupuncturist?

By choosing a member of NZRA as your acupuncturist you can be sure that you are in the safe hands of a well trained and qualified practitioner. To find a practitioner close to your home, go to the 'Find a Practitioner' facility on NZRA website, (external link). Most NZRA members also advertise in the Yellow Pages but perhaps the best way is through personal recommendation from someone who has visited the practitioner before.

Because acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treat on every level, it is important that you feel comfortable and relaxed talking to your practitioner about your condition. As well as listening to what you have to say, your practitioner should explain to you in detail about the treatment being given.

Will the needles be sterile?

Yes, members of the NZRA are required to use pre-sterilized single use needles which are disposed of immediately after removal.

How many treatments will I need?

Generally a course of treatment is accepted as being 8-10 individual sessions. Very commonly your condition may resolve in fewer than this, but if it is a long standing condition then it would not be unexpected to require considerably more. Initially you may be asked to attend for treatment two or three times a week, and then as symptoms improve, weekly treatment would be likely. Your first appointment may last for close to an hour but subsequent visits may take around 45 minutes.

Is there anything I should advise the Practitioner?

Most acupuncture practitioners will ask you to complete an information sheet on your first visit. The questions asked will cover basic information such as your name, address and age, the reason for your visit and how long the condition has been present. They will also ask about any medication you may be taking and whether or not you have had any surgery, even if it is not specifically related to the reason for your visit.

You should also advise the practitioner of any of the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Any form of cancer
  • Hepatitis HIV/Aids
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Skin infections
  • Heart conditions - especially if you have had a pacemaker inserted.

Crucial INFO on Sports Injuries

What are Sports Injuries?

Sports Injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. In many cases, these types of injuries are often due to overuse or acute trauma of a part of the body when participating in a certain activity.

When should I have treatment for sports injuries?

IIT, Don's intensive treatment is extremely effective for sports injuries. But in principle, the sooner the injury is treated, the better the result. (Why is time factor so important especially for sports injuries?) Some severe injuries will require specialist treatment or tests before acupuncture. However acupuncture can also be useful in treating the shock and emotional effects of accidents so early treatment is beneficial.

What if the injured area is not accessible? Still worth trying Don?

If the injured area is inaccessible due to a plaster cast or dressing, acupuncture points can be chosen above and below the site to treat the injury. As acupuncture points occur on both sides of the body, the uninjured side may be needled to effect treatment. Another good reason you can try Don with this condition is because of his unique modalities of treatment which are Korean Hand Acupuncture and UCLA Ear Acupuncture. I have been successfully treating sports injuries for decades just using the hands and/or ears with no need to put the needles in the injured areas.

Why is time factor so important especially for sports injuries?

When it comes to sports injuries time factor is extremely important. Once you lose optimal time for treatment the condition tends to get very stubborn and becomes harder to treat let alone adverse effect on other parts of the body. Take for example. When you sprain an ankle and fail to fix it quickly your body naturally tends to use the other side of the limb to compensate pain in the injured ankle which results in strain on the ankle, knee and hip joint of the other side. Over time failure of sprained ankle may end up ruining the alignment of pelvis and even spine. Considering close interconnection of each spine & internal organs and other tissues, ruined structure of the spines may eventually have an adverse effect even on some internal organs.

Yes, if you fail to fix reasonably minor sports injuries like sprained ankles within short period of time, it may affect your whole body adversely.

It is strongly recommended, 'Firstly when you have soft tissues injured have treatment ASAP, and secondly and more important go to a practitioner who is able to fix sports injuries as quickly as can be!'