How does an acupuncturist diagnose their patient?

To an acupuncturist, every person has their own special underlying disharmonies, or “root” causes of their health problems. Everyone’s body is unique, and therefore no two patients should be treated the same way, even if they have what appear to be the same symptoms. In other words, if you have a headache, it does not mean that it is being caused by the same root disorders as someone else’s headache. It all depends on where in the body the Qi has become stuck or deficient. Your acupuncturist will employ time-tested diagnostic techniques to determine where the flow of Qi has been obstructed. These techniques include a visual analysis of your tongue and a special system for analyzing the arterial pulses at your wrists. It also includes examining the patient’s outward appearance and complexion and palpating the abdomen for areas of Qi obstruction or deficiency. Your acupuncturist will also want to ask you a lot of questions about all of your bodily functions, including how your body regulates temperature and sweating, the health of your sense organs, your bowel and urinary functions, appetite and digestion, reproductive function, heart and lung health, energy and vitality, and your emotional state. (This is by no means an exhaustive list). Through these traditional diagnostic tools and questions, your acupuncturist will be able to successfully determine the root cause of your particular disorder. They will then establish a treatment protocol to resolve the root cause of the problem. In this way, acupuncturists do not just treat the symptoms of disease, but they actually seek to resolve the underlying reason for the disease itself.

Does acupuncture hurt?

The best answer would be: “Sometimes it does— but not very much.” Occasionally a patient will feel a very light pricking sensation as the needle enters the skin. Most of the time, however, they will not feel the needle enter at all. The needles are just so tiny and thin. In fact, they are only about twice the thickness of a human hair.

At Zen Medicinals, we often have patients who suffer from a mild needle phobia. Muki just tells them to relax and close their eyes. After he has already put in several needles, they often tell him: “Okay, you can start now.” So it really is a very mild sensation, and it often goes completely unnoticed.

After the needle is in the body, your acupuncturist might stimulate it a little. This is called “Gathering the Qi,” and it is how your acupuncturists activates the healing response in the body and gets the Qi moving in the right way. This stimulation can result in a strange, “zinging” sensation. It feels different from point to point and person to person. Some people feel a tingle, others feel a strong pulse of movement. Some people feel a heaviness or pressure, and others feel nothing at all.

At Zen Medicinals, if you are just too frightened of the needles to give them a try, you can always request an herbal and nutritional consultation instead.

What clothes should I wear?

Please dress with loose clothing, preferably a t-shirt and shorts, or yoga pants. For face-up treatments, the patient remains fully dressed. During back-treatments, the patient will be face-down with only the back exposed, as if they were getting a massage. In this case, the patient may be asked to remove their shirt to better access the mid-back or upper-back region, but women may always chose to wear their bra, if they prefer. When treating the hips, thighs, or low back, it might be necessary for the patient to remove their outerwear (shorts or pants), but they are always completely draped with a clean, white towel. The most important thing to know is that we will *never* compromise the dignity of our patients, and the patient is *always* the boss.

Does acupuncture really work?

Yes, it does! The Chinese people have used acupuncture and herbal medicine for thousands of years, and with great success. In fact, TCM is the most commonly used alternative medicine in the world today. In China, there are hospitals in every major city dedicated solely to the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Muki has spent time interning at one of these hospitals (in Chengdu), and the healing that he saw take place there was astounding.

In fact, Muki himself is a living testament to the effectiveness of acupuncture. Muki used to suffer with pains in his legs, shoulders, and arms every single day. That pain (along with all of his other ailments) has now been completely resolved, thanks to this wonderful medicine. You can read more about Muki’s own path to healing on his Bio page. Muki’s patients also get wonderful results— please visit the Testimonials page to read what they have to say about how acupuncture has changed their lives.

But you don’t have to take their word for it, or Muki’s— there is plenty of very compelling research being done on the effectiveness of acupuncture at famous health, government, and educational institutions all over the world.

Can I address more than one health issue at a time with acupuncture?

Yes – we can treat multiple issues in one session. It’s especially common to treat multiple joint issues at once, such as a neck, back, and elbow pain. An acupuncturist seeks to resolve a pattern of disharmonies by fixing the underlying root cause. In this way, we can treat many things that might not seem related – such as migraines, difficult menstruation, anxiety, and indigestion – all at the same time. In this example, all of those issues relate to a disruption in the flow of Liver Qi, and if we resolve that underlying problem, all of those issues may resolve at once.

Why did you put that needle there?

An acupuncturist has studied hundreds of acupuncture points, and they have used them over and over again, practicing their precise location and committing their healing effects to memory. In a lot of ways, it’s like learning a new language. Eventually, you don’t have to think about what you want to say – you just say it. Similarly, a good acupuncturist just knows where to put the needle to communicate to the body what he or she wants done.

Can children be treated with acupuncture?

Yes, most definitely. Muki has needled patients as young as 3 and as old as 113.

Do you treat pregnant people?

Yes, although we have to be careful to avoid certain points during pregnancy. We often treat pregnant patients for morning sickness, back and hip pain, and also to stimulate contractions. We’ve had great success in treating all of the above.
Should I consult with my physician regarding getting acupuncture and oriental medicine treatment?
No, it’s not necessary to do so. An acupuncturist is a trained and licensed medical professional, and we are able to see a patient independently of oversight from your doctor. However, we are always happy to coordinate our treatments with your physician. Just let us know if you’d like us to do so.
Will acupuncture and oriental medicine treatment be covered through my insurance reimburse?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It always depends on your insurance policy. We would be glad to check you policy for coverage – just give us a call.

How long do treatments take?

You initial visit includes a 60-minute consultation and a 30 minute acupuncture treatment. Since there can be additional time required for filling out paperwork and checking you out, we suggest setting aside 2 hours for your initial visit. Your follow-up visits will include a 15-minute consultation and a 30-minute acupuncture treatment. We recommend setting aside an hour for your follow-up visits to allow for check-in and check-out times.

How many treatments will I need?

It depends! In general, we get very rapid results. Most of our patients are in and out within 3 to 10 sessions. However, the truth is, there’s really no way to know how long it will take to get you better. Each individual heals at a different rate, depending on their overall health, their age, their diet, their work environment, and a huge number of other factors. And each health condition is completely different. Some conditions are usually quite easy to resolve – a stiff neck, a sore elbow – and some can take a lot more work – rheumatoid arthritis, recovery from a stroke, or something of a more chronic nature. A general rule of thumb is that the longer you’ve had the condition, the longer it will take to resolve it – but even that isn’t a fair generalization.

But we will do our best to give you an idea of how long we think it will take to get you better as soon as we can get a sense for it. Once Muki has had a chance to talk with you and treat you a few times, he can generally see how your body is responding, and he’ll give you his best guess. But it’s only a guess! Don’t hold him to it.

One thing we can say for certain is that we will work as hard as we can to get you better as quickly as possible. As much as we love our patients, we don’t want them coming back! We have the philosophy that if we get you better as quickly as possible, you will go out and refer us business a lot more enthusiastically than if we drag your treatments on and on with little or no results. That’s not only a terrible way to do business, it’s a terrible way to treat your patients. It’s the exact opposite of how real medicine should work, and we won’t do it – ever.

How frequently are visits spaced?

Generally, we have our patients come in twice a week while we are actively treating the condition with acupuncture, and then we reduce to once a week, once every other week, once a month, and then as needed. Rarely, when things are really bad we’ll see a patient three or more times a week at first, and sometimes when things are more mild, we will see a patient only once a week, or sometimes as little as once a month – it just depends on the condition we’re working on.

Do I need to keep coming after my symptoms are gone?

Only if you want to! Be forewarned, acupuncture is incredibly relaxing and vitalizing all at once, and you might get addicted to the way it makes you feel. Many of our patients come in once or twice a month, just because they love walking around with what we call that “acu-high.” But it’s really up to you – come as often as you want!

What if I can’t come for regular acupuncture treatments?

We sometimes have to work around complicated work schedules, or sometimes people need to go on vacation in the middle of a treatment protocol, we have to suspend treatment for a while. That’s okay – life happens. We can usually still make progress.

Are there any side effects to acupuncture?

Sometimes there’s bruising, and sometimes acupuncture can leave you feeling a bit dizzy for a few minutes. Rarely, we’ll see a little bleeding after the needle is pulled out – usually just a drop or two. But generally, acupuncture is very safe and has almost no side effects.

I want to begin treatment, what do I do next?

Just schedule your appointment online, or give us a call!

Should I keep my appointment if I’m sick?

Yes – if you feel well enough to make it to the clinic, we would be very happy to help you overcome your illness as quickly as possible so that you can get back to your regular treatment protocol. Acupuncture is very helpful for recovering from a cold or flu, and we’re not scared of your germs – we know a thing or two about keeping our immune systems strong.

Is an acupuncturist a doctor?

Each state licensing is a little different. Here in Arizona, acupuncturists cannot call themselves doctors, but in other states, such as California, Florida, and New Mexico, they can. Truth be told, it’s all politics. We really don’t care what our patients call us, as long as they get better.
What kind of education and training do acupuncturists receive?
Typically, an acupuncturist has at least three years of master’s level education – four, if they’ve also studied Chinese herbal medicine. They may also have a bachelor’s degree. They must complete stringent national and state licensing requirements as well. Our acupuncturist, Muki Ramsey, has completed a four-year master’s degree and is fully licensed to practice in Arizona.

Do you prescribe herbs?

When it is appropriate to do so, yes. Although Muki has trained extensively in the use of Chinese herbal medicine and is nationally certified as a Chinese herbal practitioner, he prescribes Chinese herbs less frequently than perhaps do other herbalists. This is because he has noticed that more and more people who come to him are suffering from nutritional deficits or malnutrition, and these issues must always be addressed with alterations to their diet or with nutritional supplements. Good nutrition is the foundation of good health; as Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine”. From Muki’s point of view, it makes no sense to give a patient an herbal formula to boost their Qi when in reality they are eating poorly and are therefore suffering from a deficiency in vitamins, essential fats, trace minerals, amino acids, and so on. These deficiencies must be addressed first, for they are the building blocks of life. Of course, there are instances when Muki feels it is appropriate to prescribe a Chinese herbal formula, in which case he will do so.

Can I combine acupuncture with massage/chiropractic/osteopathic treatment/medication/etc?

In general the answer is yes. In fact, these modalities generally work very well together to synergistically improve the patient’s condition. However, there may be instances when it is inappropriate for a patient to use other modalities. This is decided on a case by case basis – every person is different, and every health condition must be looked at individually.

Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No, you definitely do not! We know this because animal studies have shown such a significant positive impact on the health of their subjects, and animals are not subject to placebo effect. Clinically, we are used to treating people who have never tried acupuncture and who may even have their doubts about its effectiveness. If you are skeptical about acupuncture, we urge you to come try it out for yourself. We take a certain pleasure in working with even the most stubborn skeptics, because inevitably they become our most fervent converts.

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