Unbroken Flow Acupuncture Kendra Ward, MAOM, L.Ac. • 503.244.0500

Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture:
Frequently Asked Questions

What is traditional Chinese medicine?

What should I expect from my first acupuncture treatment?
What can traditional Chinese medicine treat?
Does acupuncture hurt?
Is acupuncture safe?
What is traditional Chinese medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest medical practices, and some evidence suggests that it dates as far back as 5,000 years. The ancient Chinese developed this unique medical system through careful and diligent study of the body, mind, emotions, spirit, and the natural world around them. This system is based on the idea that pathways of energy, or "qi", run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These channels are called meridians and they flow like rivers through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up, creating imbalance and pain. Energy can also become depleted as a result of stress, overwork, chronic illness, etc., and this may cause the water in the stream to dry up and eventually stop flowing.

Acupuncture needles are used as conductors, and when placed in specific areas that have increased conductivity, they can tap into the various energy pathways to correct imbalances and clear blockages. Acupuncture works with the body's innate ability to heal itself; once pathways have been unblocked, the body's natural healing response can take place. Every individual is made up of a unique combination of constitution, health history, family, environment, diet, emotions, beliefs, thought patterns and so on, therefore every treatment is specifically tailored to you as a whole being.

Aside from acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine may also include massage, moxibustion (heat therapy with the herb Artemesia), herbal formulas, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. Other gentler techniques such as tapping or massaging along the meridians may be used for children or needle-shy people.

What should I expect from my first acupuncture treatment?
The first treatment is my opportunity to get to know you better; I will complete a detailed intake in order to learn more about your symptoms and how they many be interrelated. Even the smallest detail may shed light on the root cause of your condition. In addition to listening, my other diagnostic tools are observation and palpating the body, particularly the pulse. We have time for questions and explanations, especially if it is your first experience with acupuncture. When you are comfortable, I will insert the needles and then allow you to relax for about 20 to 30 minutes.

What can traditional Chinese medicine treat?
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for many disorders, including the following:

  • Gynecological disorders, such as irregular or heavy periods, infertility, PMS, post-partum recovery, and menopausal symptoms.
  • Muscular/skeletal disorders, such as acute or chronic pain, whiplash, lower back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and arthritis pain.
  • Hypertension and migraines.
  • Anxiety, depression, insomnia and other mood disorders.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, colitis, indigestion, gastritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Urogenital disorders, such as chronic urinary tract infections or incontinence.
  • Respiratory disorders, such as allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis.
  • Addictions, such as cigarette smoking (please inquire about our smoking cessation package).

*Why wait until you are sick? Acupuncture can be used preventatively, especially if you are prone to frequent colds or flu.

*Acupuncture is remarkably relaxing and works well as a technique for rejuvenation and stress relief.

Does acupuncture hurt?
Because every person is made up of such a complex array of life experiences, it is no wonder that people feel and respond to needling in very different ways. The typical description includes feeling a slight pinch or pressure, which is then accompanied by warmth, tingling, or a heavy sensation at the site of the needle. Many people experience a deep sense of release and relaxation during and at the end of the treatment.

For needle-shy patients I may start off our treatments with non-insertive techniques and acupressure until we build enough trust to use needles. These are always options in the event that the fear of needles cannot be overcome.

Is acupuncture safe?
The needles are all sterile, pre-packaged and used one time only. The needles are hair-fine, with a solid center unlike the hollow hypodermic needles used to take blood. There is usually no marking on the skin after the needles are removed.


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