What does Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) treat?

Chinese medicine has successfully treated many common health conditions for more than 2,500 years. It has passed through the ages in an unbroken lineage – used to promote longevity and life balance in the people that seek its treatments. The medicine isn’t directed toward a particular disease or condition, but it works instead by activating the body’s self-healing ability. For this reason, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help address everything from irritable bowel syndrome and back pain, to Parkinson’s disease and the side effects of chemotherapy.

Unlike many healthcare options in the United States, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine focus on treating the root cause of the patient’s health problems. After all, symptoms are merely manifestations of an underlying malfunction and disease process. By addressing the main source for a person’s symptoms, this medicine truly helps patients to overcome many ailments and sets them on a course for optimal health.

At The Root Acupuncture Clinic, we use a combination of both Eastern Medicine (Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture) and Functional Medicine to approach personalized patient health care from all available modalities – creating profound balance, harmony, and well-being in our patients. We recognize that the human body functions structurally, chemically, and bioenergetically. We specialize in musculoskeletal pain, gastrointestinal health, stress, and sleep, but are able to treat a wide variety of ailments.

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“I am not a fan of needles. Does acupuncture hurt?”

This is the most common concern expressed by new patients and the fastest to be quickly alleviated. Great care is taken to ensure that patients experience little discomfort and about 90% of patients find that they will drift off or take a small nap during the treatment – you will feel that comfortable with acupuncture! We would commonly tell patients that some of our acupuncture needles are so thin that we could probably fit 30 of them in the head of a hypodermic needle. Well, we finally put that to the test as you can see for yourself – we ended up fitting 35 of them!

When performing acupuncture on our patients, each needle is inserted with a swift tap. This helps the needle quickly bypass the epidermal layer of skin where your pain receptors are located. This causes most patients to only feel only a small pinch (that dissipates almost as quickly as it appears), many others describe no sensation at all (other than feeling a tap on their skin). Other times when we are working on larger muscles/tendons, acupuncture can sometimes cause a small twitch from the muscle or a small ache to arrive in the area. Both of those sensations quickly dissipate and, as described before, patients drift into a calming parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system response that results in a nice relaxing nap.


We were able to fit 35 acupuncture needles into the head of a single hypodermic needle.

Your acupuncturist will review a treatment plan with you in the first session, but it is usually recommended that patients commit to three (3) acupuncture sessions in the beginning – one a week for three weeks straight. If you are a new patient reading this right now, it is highly suggested that you book two “Follow-up Treatment” sessions via our online booking system after your Initial Acupuncture appointment.  Most patients will notice a difference from the treatment after just their first session but, after a second and third treatment with adjustments to treatment styles/modalities/etc…, we will figure out the best way that your body responds to this amazing medicine. As long as we are making progress with the first three treatments, we often try to extend out follow-up treatment dates until we establish a good maintenance schedule. While everyone is different, we find that about 85% of our patients usually fall into a monthly maintenance (i.e. one treatment per month) by about the fifth or sixth total visit.

We have patients that sometimes will walk out of a single acupuncture session with 75% of their issue alleviated, however, it is more common that patients will experience gradual improvement over time. We usually tell new patients to expect small changes after each treatment, with a cumulative effect after each session. It is very rare that patients will experience negative effects after a treatment, but we encourage patients to check-in with their body about 24 hours after the session to get the best sense of how that treatment affected them. In time, we want any of your initial ailments/symptoms to be few and far between, and to empower you to live your best life.

Dry needling is a term used by other medical professionals (usually physical therapists and/or chiropractors) when they perform musculoskeletal acupuncture into muscles and tendons. While these professionals have a medical degree, their expertise is not in needling and their acupuncture expertise is sometimes limited to a single weekend seminar (vs. a Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist that spends thousands of hours learning and practicing acupuncture before performing it on patients). The technique of dry needling is often seen as barbaric to many acupuncturists – dry needling uses a technique of repeatedly stabbing the trigger point of a muscle over and over to help it to release. While some patients can find benefit from this style, most people that have dry needling once never want to do it again – describing it as a very painful experience with soreness and tenderness in the treatment area for days after it is performed.

The big differences between dry needling and acupuncture (from a licensed acupuncturist) are:

  • Time and Needle Retention– a session with a PT/Chiro is usually only 15 short minutes, while a follow-up acupuncture treatment in our office is 75 minutes long. Someone short on time performing dry needling is forced to be aggressive in their needling style. Meanwhile, an acupuncturist recognizes that needling the same spot and allowing the patient to retain a needle in that area while they rest for 20+ minutes achieves the same effect. An acupuncturist can also perform light electrical stimulation of the area, stimulating those same trigger points without the painful side effects.
  • Training- as mentioned above, this individuals performing dry needling are medical professionals. With that being said, however, their knowledge of the human body does not adequately prepare them to perform acupuncture safely and effectively with their limited training with needles. Not only do all of our acupuncturists have four years of acupuncture needle training, but we are also trained in EXSTORE – a system of physical assessment and treatment that produces fast and effective results for musculoskeletal and pain conditions.
  • Narrow vs Whole Body Approach – A dry needling session focuses on singular muscles/tendons, while acupuncture focuses the same points with a greater whole body approach (i.e. treating and balancing out other inflammatory issues in the body to bring better long-lasting results).
  • Pain – The difference from dry needling to acupuncture is night and day, in terms of pain. Experience what it’s like to walk out of our treatment rooms the same day with instant relief vs waiting for the pain and bruising of a dry needling session to last a few days before you feel any relief.
  • Additional Modalities – you pay for our time when you come in for an acupuncture treatment. That means that we don’t charge you for every little service that we perform – the price of a treatment is inclusive of all services/modalities performed including: acupuncture, infrared TDP heat lamp therapy, electro-stimulation, auricular (ear) therapy, moxibustion, fire cupping massage, etc…

Preparation for your first acupuncture treatment is very simple:

  • Paperwork – all of your paperwork is filled out electronically before your arrival – no need to print out anything. Just click on the link in your confirmation email to complete that before coming in.
  • Arrival Time – Give yourself adequate time to find our offices, especially for your first visit. Our buildings can be a little tricky to navigate the first time.
  • Clothing – wear loose fitting clothing that can be rolled up above your elbows and above your knees. If you forget to bring loose clothing, don’t worry about it – we always have plenty of towels in our clinic to drape any area of your body during the treatment.
  • Food and Hydration – it’s always a good idea to give yourself a small snack or glass of water before a treatment. We have delicious ginger chews, along with water, coffee, and tea in the office if you need something before or after a session.
  • Cell Phones – we don’t mind when a cell phone goes off during a treatment, but it hinders your ability to relax. We have charging cords in all treatment rooms for you to recharge while you are being treated, but please set everything to silent before you arrive.
  • Spouses/Children – this individuals are welcome to relax in our lobby, or they can come into the treatment room with your permission.  We usually recommend family members to wait in the lobby to give you every chance to relax during your treatment. Please note that individuals under the age of 18 must have an adult present in the treatment room at all times during the session.
  • Relax– like many other patients, you will find that your acupuncture treatment is the one time that you get just for YOU during the week. Its ability to relax and rejuvenate the body will become a new favorite in your self-care regime.
  • Post-Acupuncture Care– your acupuncturist will review any post-care instructions with you at check out, but it’s usually small items like hydration, rest, or skin care after a fire cupping massage session.