Frequently Asked Questions
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment method used by practitioners of Oriental Medicine. In acupuncture therapy very fine sterile needles are inserted at different points in the body to regulate the Qi mechanism and treat disease. For more information see our section on acupuncture .
Does it hurt?
The Chinese consider acupuncture to be a “bu tong” 不痛 or painless procedure. That said, it is normal and even beneficial to feel certain sensations during treatment. Common sensations include heaviness, aching, or tingling where the needles are or even in other areas of the body away from the needles. Occasionally there is a small pinch when needles are inserted but most patients find treatment very relaxing and some even fall asleep while the needles are in.
What will my first visit be like?
During your first visit you will be asked many questions, some related specifically to your complaint and others seemingly unrelated. With all aspects of Oriental Medicine your entire case in taken into consideration so we can determine what is causing the disease. We treat the whole person, not just the symptom. After that the practitioner will look at your tongue and feel your pulse - two key assessment methods of Oriental Medicine. After the initial evaluation you will receive an acupuncture treatment or will be told how to use your herbs (if you are coming in for an herbal consultation only). Your entire first visit will take about 90 minutes and return acupuncture treatments will need about 45 to 60 minutes of your time in the office. For all acupuncture visits be sure you have eaten at least a light meal within a few hours prior to arriving. However, avoid overeating immediately before treatment.
What should I bring to my first visit?
Please bring with you any information about your case you may have from your other doctors, including things like lab tests, blood work, reports of x-rays or MRIs, etc. To save time you may fill out our office forms before coming into the office (click here to download these forms). Please also bring a form of payment as it is expected at the time of your visit. We accept cash, personal check, or credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express).
How many treatments will I need?
This will differ for each patient. Generally speaking however, for minor or recent complaints, such as a simple muscle strain or the common cold, only a few treatments will be necessary. The longer a condition has existed and the more serious the condition is, the more treatments will be necessary. For conditions that have lasted months or years, dozens of treatments may be necessary over a long period of time.
How often will I need treatment?
Like the previous question, this will vary from person to person. In the beginning, minor chronic conditions will need at least weekly treatment. For intense pain, long-standing problems, acute injury, or any more serious problem 2, 3, or more treatments per week may be necessary. In China, acupuncture is often given daily or every other day. In the United States this schedule may not be possible due to financial and time constraints, but still 2 or 3 treatments per week may be necessary for more serious conditions. A problem that may go away with 6 treatments at twice per week might take 10 or more treatments at weekly intervals. Thus, the more frequent treatment schedule in the long run will cut down on the total number of necessary treatments, reduce the overall recovery time, and cut down on eventual cost of treatment. The simultaneous use of herbal therapies at home in many cases also cuts down on the total number of treatments, frequency of therapy, and total cost to the patient.
Will insurance cover the cost of treatment?
Today many insurance companies, including some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, cover acupuncture costs. However, your coverage may vary depending on your specific plan and your diagnosis. Our office does not participate with any insurance company although we will submit claims for you (so you have no paperwork to complete). Remember, that insurance coverage is a contract between you and your insurance company, not with any health care provider. You are responsible for understanding your health plan benefits and for obtaining any pre-certification or referrals necessary to guarantee coverage. As a service to our patients we accept payment by credit card so that patients do not have to pay cash out of pocket before being reimbursed for treatment by their insurance companies. If you would like us to submit claims for you please bring your insurance card with you during your first visit.
Does Medicare cover acupuncture?
No, not yet. However, there is a bill currently in congress that would create Medicare coverage for acupuncture and if you would like to see this bill passed please call your congressman and ask for their support of the Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act. BEWARE of any acupuncturist or medical doctor that says they will bill Medicare for acupuncture services. This is insurance fraud and a serious crime. Seniors and others on Medicare who have questions about the cost of treatment at our Center should call the office at (973) 660-0110 for more information.
What is your cancellation policy?
Our office maintains a 24 hour cancellation policy. Appointment times, especially at certain times of the day, are in high demand and missed visits prevent other patients from being able to use that same appointment time. Patients who miss appointments or do not provide 24 hour notice of cancellation will be charged for the cost of their visit (which is not reimbursable by their insurance provider). New patients may have to provide a credit card number (including 3 digit CVV number) to reserve an appointment time. If there are any questions about this policy, please contact out office.
What is Oriental Medicine (中醫)?
Oriental Medicine is a term that refers to a traditional system of medicine, classified by the U.S. National Institutes of Health as a complete medical system. Acupuncture is just one part of Oriental Medicine, which includes other therapies such as Chinese herbal medicine, diet and exercise therapies, cupping, moxabustion, manual therapies and more. For the best care possible a patient should always seek out fully licensed practitioner of Oriental Medicine, trained in all of its branches. Acupuncturists who practice acupuncture alone have considerably less training than acupuncturists who maintain full certification in Oriental Medicine (see below).
How do I know if a practitioner knows what they are doing?
All practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine should be state licensed health care providers - they are trained as, and in some states licensed as primary care providers (for example in Florida and California). There are some people practicing Chinese herbal medicine who are not licensed as acupuncturists as in some states this practice is not regulated. Unfortunately, the majority of these practitioners have little or no formal training and represent more of a health care risk to the general population. All practitioners of Oriental Medicine are board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). The NCCAOM currently offers four certifications. One, certification in Asian Bodywork Therapy (Dipl. ABT) is given to massage therapists. Acupuncturists are certified in Acupuncture (Dipl. Ac.), and those with professional level training can sit for an examination to also be board certified in Chinese herbal medicine (Dipl. CH). The gold standard is full certification in Oriental Medicine (Dipl. OM), which demonstrates competency in acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork therapy, other techniques of Oriental Medicine, as well as training in western biomedical sciences. For the highest quality of care patients should seek out practitioners fully certified in Oriental Medicine.
What about herbs?
Herbs are an essential part of Oriental Medicine, and, in China, they are considered the primary method of treatment with acupuncture being secondary. Chinese herbs are always given in complex formulae designed for each individual patient. The professional standard of care is raw herbal formulae (the actual herbs themselves cooked into a tea) or extract powders that are individualized for the patient. Tablets or tinctures are used as well, but they are more like over-the-counter strength preparations and are not used by professional physicians in Asia. Practitioners here in the US who primarily recommend tablets are either not trained in, or are uncomfortable offering the professional level of care seen in China and most of Asia today.
Can I get the herbs at the supermarket or health food store?
No... Professional strength Chinese herbs are not sold to the public without the recommendation of a licensed health care provider. Chinese herbal medicine is a complex science that requires years of training to safely administer. Most herbal formulae that our patients use come from a professional herbal pharmacy under the direction of a licensed herbalist and licensed pharmacist.
How long will I have to take herbs?
Like with acupuncture, the answer to this question will vary depending on the patient. For more acute cases or less serious conditions a few days or a few weeks of herbal therapy would potentially suffice. For more long term conditions or serious diseases, several months or more of herbs, alongside dietary or lifestyle modification, may be necessary.
What if I have other questions or questions about my condition?
For other questions please feel free to call the office at (973) 660-0110 or e-mail us . The office is open from Monday through Saturday by appointment. Please realize that in many cases we will not be able to answer very specific questions (such as how many treatments will be necessary or where will the needles go) until we see you in person and evaluate your case. We look forward to becoming part of your health care team!