Whether you are new to acupuncture, or a seasoned veteran, you may have questions or concerns about the condition you are seeking to have treated, your safety, our clinic or something else. We welcome all questions and are happy to address them as best we can. If you don’t see your question or concern addressed here please feel free to contact us by phone or email.

Acupuncture is a medical modality that involves the insertion of very thin needles (some as thin as a cat’s whisker) into very strategic points on the body.  Acupuncture originated in China over 2500 years ago and is deeply rooted in Taoist philosophy. In the course of its history it spread throughout the East and West. Over the centuries acupuncture has evolved into many diverse styles and today is being used to treat a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional conditions.

The Eastern or Energetic Explanation:  The Eastern or energetic explanation of how acupuncture works is that acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force, known as qi (pronounced chee), believed to flow through pathways call meridians in the body. According to acupuncture and Oriental medical theory illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians become unbalance or is blocked. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. The Western or Bio-medical Explanation:  The Western or bio-medical explanation of how acupuncture works is that acupuncture stimulates nerves, muscles and connective tissue increasing blood flow to these areas, and triggering the bodies natural painkillers (i.e., endorphins). Inserting needles at specific points triggers sensory receptors. These receptors prompt nerves to send impulses to the base of the brain, which houses the hypothalamic-pituitary system. The hypothalamic-pituitary system releases natural pain-killing hormones, known as endorphins. Acupuncture, therefore, is useful in relieving pain. Endorphins also assist in the operation of the hormonal system, which is how acupuncture is able to treat conditions such has infertility, PMS, IBS and to name only a few. Stimulation specific point with acupuncture needles release substances that help regulate serotonin in the brain, acupuncture is also helpful for treating depression and anxiety disorders. Patients undergoing acupuncture can observe the following effects: Pain relief, increased circulation, decreased inflammation and spasms, and a stimulation of the immune system due to increased T-cell count.

It’s been said that acupuncture can treat hundreds of diseases. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has compiled and extensive list of conditions for which acupuncture has been researched and proven to be effective including the efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy, nausea and vomiting, postoperative dental pain, addiction, stroke rehabilitation, chronic pain conditions, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, and carpal tunnel to name only a few.

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a landmark study, titled “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials” listing “diseases and disorders that can be treated with acupuncture.” 

This study has found that the diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into the categories as shown below.

  • Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved (through controlled trials) to be an effective treatment

  • Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed

  • Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult

Yes, very safe, if done by a qualified professional who has been educated and trained according to state and federal standards. Eastern Shore Acupuncture uses prepackaged sterilized needles that are for single use only.

National board certification is the hallmark of excellence in acupuncture and oriental medicine (AOM). The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certification makes an important statement about professional competence. NCCAOM certification requires successful completion of a three to four academic years Master of Science degree in acupuncture accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).  The ACAOM is the only accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education as the authority for quality education and training in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. 


In addition, a NCCAOM certified practitioner must demonstrate professional competency by passing NCCAOM certification examinations in Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Biomedicine as well as standard medical history gathering, safety, ethics, common pharmaceuticals and supplements, and recognition of when to refer patients to other health care professionals or consult with other medical practitioners. The additional designation of licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) is awarded by the state regulatory board. 

The NCCAOM Diplomate training and competency verification is in sharp contrast to the acupuncture training of other healthcare professionals such as chiropractors, physical therapist or registered nurses or even medical doctors who typically receive only 100-300 hours of abbreviated training. 

Relative to a hypodermic needle (what we experience at the doctor’s office) acupuncture needles are very fine (some as fine as a cat’s whisker) and inserted very quickly past the superficial nerves using small guide tubes. This eliminates much if not all of the “ouch” or pin prick sensation. Additionally, hypodermic needles are hollow because substances like medication are being pushed or drawn through them. This is why much of the pain occurs when getting a shot.  However, acupuncture needles are solid, and therefore significantly thinner.  The term “Dry needling” associated with acupuncture comes from the fact that acupuncturist is not pushing any substances through the needles. 

Though there are many different types of acupuncture sensations, some felt strongly, pain should not be one of them.  If you experience pain it is important to tell your acupuncturist so that they can adjust their needle technique better suit your body.  Pain during treatment is counterproductive to treatment goals because when we anticipate or experience pain, we tighten our muscles.

When the needles are inserted patients may experience a heavy, achy, or tingling sensation near the needle site or along the associated meridian pathway or even a muscle jump or twitch depending on which needle technique used.  In Oriental medicine, such sensations are known as “De Qi” and are an indication that the body’s healing powers have been stimulated.  Some people feel energized following a treatment, while others feel relaxed.  

If you are especially needle sensitive or worried about the needles, let your acupuncturist know in advance.  Needles are not the only tool an acupuncturist has at their deposable. Cups, magnets, acupressure, and other tools can be used instead of or in addition to acupuncture needles.

Through the course of their education acupuncturists are trained in countless numbers of needle techniques.  These needle techniques communicate to the acupuncture point what effect we want to have on the body.  Trigger point needling, often called dry needling, is but one of these techniques.  It arose primarily during the Ming dynasty.  Needling a trigger point causes the muscle to jump and ultimately releases the muscle, creating greater range of motion and easing pain symptoms. While I was studying in China, I often heard this technique referred to as “jumping points” because of the muscle fasciculation it produced.  Some find this needle technique intense or uncomfortable.  Others love it as it clearly lets you know that the area is being addressed. Trigger point needling or dry needling is not for every pain condition. The extensive training of an acupuncturist assures that the right needle technique for your condition and constitution is used for you.

In recent years there has been an expansion in what has been termed as “dry needling” by physical therapists, osteopaths, doctors and members of other similar professions dealing with treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Acupuncturists, aside from 200 hours of bioscience with anatomy and physiology coursework, complete at least 600 hours acupuncture education with a minimum of 650 supervised clinical hours, as opposed to what is often a weekend course for these other healthcare professionals. Trigger point therapy is a very skilled approach to muscle work, requiring a deft hands, and a clear understanding of underlying organs and musculature. Dry needling for physical therapists has not been approved in many states. There is such a difference in qualification in fact that the American Medical Association has issued a statement warning against dry needling by non-acupuncture trained professionals. Your safety is assured in the hands of a comprehensively trained, licensed and board-certified acupuncturist. 

Acupuncture originated in China but has spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe and the United States.  Different styles have developed over the centuries based on different opinions as to theory and technique.

While the basic theoretical principles of acupuncture remain the same, different styles of acupuncture differ greatly in both technique and diagnosis.  Some styles are more affective for certain conditions, bodies or patient disposition.  Therefore, if acupuncture was not affective for you in the past, you should try a different style.

At ESA there are many different styles of acupuncture practiced offering a range of needle techniques that can be customized to your constitution, condition and comfort.

  • Acupuncture Physical Medicine is a meridian or channel based system that incorporates Western physical medicine techniques. Diagnosis relies heavily upon palpation of the channels and, where muscular-skeletal pain presents, palpation of musculature to identify and locate any myofascial constrictions. The use of trigger point needling (or dry needle techniques) is fundamental to the success of this style.
  •  Kiiko Matsumoto or KM Style is a Japanese style formulated by prominent teacher, Kiiko Matsumoto. Her method is a synthesis derived from her own teachers, Master Nagano, Master Kawaii and Dr. Manaka. KM style relies extensively upon palpation of the abdomen and other reflex zones of the body, very fine needles with shallow insertion, and the use of tools unique to Japan, such as silver diode chains, diode rings and magnets, ion and triple bypass cords.
  • TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine is the “default” style that is taught in almost all acupuncture schools in the United States. It is the style upon which the national certification exams are based. This style relies upon questions, observation of tongue, complexion, and palpation of pulse, to choose a standardized diagnosis of pattern and treatment. The needles used are often thicker and their insertion deeper. Guasha, a scraping technique used to loosen fascia, and cupping are both non-needling techniques commonly used in TCM.
  • Classical Chinese Acupuncture is a broad and comprehensive tradition from which TCM was derived. It has a deep history with many schools, but what distinguishes it from TCM is that it is very multi-faceted, with a highly individualized diagnosis and treatment. As taught by Master Jeffrey Yuen, Classical Chinese Acupuncture is rooted in the naturalist philosophy of Daoism and possesses a synthetic approach. 

If you are not sure that acupuncture is right for you, please feel free to contact me for an initial consultation.  Usually this can be done by phone or by email. In some cases a face-to-face meeting may work best. (This will require an appointment.)  There is no charge for this service, which should be approximately 15 minutes or less.

Each patient brings a unique clinical profile and receives treatments specifically tailored to his or her needs.  The initial treatment generally lasts about one and a half hours during which a thorough medical history and evaluation will be performed prior to treatment.  Oriental medicine uses a holistic, diagnostic model where it is necessary to look not only at the chief complaint but rather all aspects of an individual’s health and lifestyle in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

The acupuncture evaluation is typically based on a combination of the following:

  • Medical History Form
  • In-depth one-on-one dialog
  • Palpation of muscles, wrist pulse, abdomen, and meridians.
  • Observing the shape, color, and coating of the tongue.

Acupuncture points are selected for their specific functions and how they relate to your individual state of being and wellness. The number of needles that are used during a treatment can vary greatly from patient to patient or even session to session.  Once the needles are inserted, you will be left to rest.  During this time, you might fall asleep, enter deep tranquil state, or have emotions wax and wane.  All or none of this is fine; your experience will be uniquely your own.  After 10-15 minutes the needles will be removed.


It is the time between visits where the healing really occurs.  Your nervous system will begin to adjust integrating the treatment fully.  

Other modalities that may be incorporated into the acupuncture session include:

    • Gua Sha 
    • Cupping
    • Moxibustion
    • Dietary counselling

Though not a necessity, loose clothing such as shorts and a tank will make accessing meridian points easiest and allow you to remain most comfortable during the treatment.  All treatment rooms are private and there will be time at the beginning and end of each treatment to allow you to change if necessary.

A course of treatment depends on many factors including the nature of the condition for which you are seeking care, the length of time you have suffered with the condition and how your body responds to treatment. Typically, the longer you have suffered with a condition the longer it will take to resolve. Therefore, one treatment may be all that is needed for an acute muscle sprain or onset of a cold. Chronic conditions like back pain with sciatica-type symptoms, stubborn digestive disorders, nervous system disorders, insomnia, anxiety/depression, menstrual disorder or headaches to name a few, may take several weeks to several months of regular care usually 1-2 times per week to resolve. At Eastern Shore Acupuncture and Healing Arts we perform a comprehensive examination monthly to measure the progress toward the treatment goals we have set together. As symptoms improve treatment frequency will be gradually reduced and once those goals are successfully met you will be discharged from care with self-care instruction to prevent the condition from returning.  This “acupuncture homework” can vary from exercises, meditations to dietary recommendations to name a few.  Many “acupuncture graduates” like to schedule wellness treatments monthly or quarterly.

Your appointment time is reserved specifically for you. In the event of a missed appointment, or an appointment cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, you may be responsible for payment in full. Insurance will not pay for a missed appointment.