The insertion of an acupuncture needle acts as a stimulus to the body and once inserted it begins a signaling process between different tissues and systems of the body. Modern scientific explanations offer different theories depending on the specific system that is being studied. For example, when a needle is inserted, research has shown that blood circulation increases in the local area and natural painkillers are released from the body, thus having an effect on the circulatory and neuroendocrine systems, respectively. Further, from a pain physiology perspective, an acupuncture needle blocks or interferes with the pain signals coming from an injured tissue or joint. This theoretical explanation is known as the Gate Control Theory of Acupuncture. To learn more about the different theories of how acupuncture works, click here. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, acupuncture assists in the body's free flow of Qi and Blood. When Qi and Blood lack movement, then stagnation builds up in the body and pain will eventually manifest. There is a famous saying in Chinese Medicine, "When there is free flow, there is no pain; when there is pain, there is a lack of flow".
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture is recognized as a treatment modality for a wide variety of pain conditions and medical problems. Acupuncture has been extensively studied to help with and relieve symptoms associated with the following conditions:
The experience of acupuncture and the sensation upon the insertion of an acupuncture needle will vary according to each individual. The initial insertion feels like a mild, brief pinch/poke and shouldn't cause much discomfort or pain. Our practitioners are experienced in mitigating this effect as much as possible and use specific distraction techniques to ensure the acupuncture needle produces a mild response. Once the needle reaches the appropriate depth of insertion, common sensations that are elicited include heaviness, distention, soreness, feelings of heat or coolness, and numbness/tingling. Other sensations include an electrical feeling traveling down an extremity or a twitch response from a muscle.
Are the needles sterile and high quality?
Yes, all the needles that are used are sealed in a sterile packet and are single use needles. We DO NOT reuse any needles between patients and all of our practitioners have been trained and certified in Clean Needle Technique. Pivotal Motion Acupuncture uses the highest quality needles sourced from reputable companies and third-party distributors.
How many sessions do I need?
In short, it depends. A good rule of thumb is that those presenting with an acute & straightforward condition will require fewer sessions and those presenting with a chronic & complex condition will require more sessions. With that being said, research has shown that acupuncture generates lasting results and higher efficacy after 5-6 treatments. This is why we encourage patients to sign up for a treatment plan package (6 visits at a 20% discount for cash patients). Acupuncture is not a magic bullet and thus it takes time for the body to integrate change and adapt accordingly. Experiencing an improvement in symptoms can occur in as little as two to three treatments. In summary, we believe that patients with acute conditions will need around 5-6 treatments and patients with chronic and complex conditions will need 10-12 treatments. Overall, there are too many variables to predict accurately how many sessions each patient will need, such as patient compliance, healing response time, etc. It is important to note that patient compliance in-between the treatments is one of the major determinants for maximizing benefits and reducing recovery time.
Does my health insurance cover acupuncture treatments?
At Pivotal Motion Acupuncture, we are currently in-network with the following health insurance providers: Allegiance, American Specialty Health, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana, Cigna, Interwest, Pacific Source, and Triwest. We will verify your benefits prior to your first visit. The verification process takes 48-72 hours. As a patient, you are responsible for any co-pays, co-insurance, and meeting any deductibles that are included in your insurance benefit plan. These payments must be made prior to treatment.
For all other patients, we are happy to provide you with a Superbill to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. Payment must be made prior to treatment and Pivotal Motion Acupuncture policies state that we are unable to refund any money that is not paid by the insurance provider. For more information regarding insurance benefits and if your insurance will cover acupuncture, please give us a call at (406) 414-0042.
What should I do prior to my visit?
We advise patients to have eaten a meal or small snack prior to their treatment. Refrain from consuming alcohol prior to treatment. Also, if you know you may be sensitive to certain stimuli (i.e. acupuncture needles), we advise that patients refrain from or limit caffeine intake prior to their treatment. Other than that, we encourage patients to come in with an open mind and a positive attitude.
What should I wear for treatments?
Aim to wear loose fitting clothing, and preferably shorts and a T-shirt or sports bra. This allows our practitioners to access specific muscles that would be otherwise difficult to treat with an acupuncture needle. Further, this allows our patients to feel most comfortable. The Pivotal Motion clinic also provides draping linens and our practitioners have been adequately trained in draping techniques to allow both patient comfort and practitioner efficiency.
What should I expect after my treatments?
One of the most common effects after an acupuncture treatment is a sense of calm and relaxation. This is mainly due to the natural endorphins that are released from the body during treatment. Another common effect is feeling tired and run down. If trigger point, motor point, or electro-stimulation was included in your treatment, it is normal to have a dull ache or soreness in the muscle body that was worked, which should last no more than 24-36 hours. This feeling is common to the sensation one gets after working out and exercising. Other common effects that are reported to occur are general changes in appetite, sleep, urination, bowel patterns, and mild emotional reactions.
What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
This has become a contentious subject within the medical field. Dry needling focuses on the treatment of trigger points and motor points within the muscle body to help alleviate pain and reset muscle tone. To our understanding, the focus of dry needling is solely on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. In contrast, acupuncture can treat various conditions that affect the many physiological systems of the body. When asked, as practitioners, "Do you as an acupuncturist do dry needling?". Our response is, "Yes, we do dry needling everyday, albeit in a different way and with a different foundational and theoretical approach". Acupuncture also treats trigger points and motor points, and our practitioners have been trained to properly assess and treat orthopedic conditions. In addition, acupuncture treats distal parts of the body, including the hands, wrists, shoulders, ankles, etc., because there are fascial connections between muscles and different tissues of the body. When you treat distal parts of the body in this way, there is a mechanical signal transmission that occurs to help balance the body in a more effective way. To sum it up, dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, yet acupuncture contains within it concepts of dry needling and more due to its theoretical underpinnings in Chinese philosophy. For an in-depth look at the difference between dry needling and acupuncture refer to this article.