Below are listed many of the most common questions about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Click on a category name to sort the list to reveal the frequently asked questions for that category
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine which involves insertion of very fine, hair-thin needles gently in to your skin at specific points on your body. Sometimes pressure, heat, suction or mild electrical current is used along with needles. Acupuncture is used mainly to treat pain, however Oriental Medicine Doctors have expanded the scope of acupuncture to include most ailments and illnesses.
Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the theory that the body has energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”), that flows through your body along pathways called meridians. Illness occurs when something unbalances your qi. Acupuncture is used to influence or unblock qi and help your body to allow the qi to flow naturally back into balance. Western doctors generally explain acupuncture as insertion of the needles at certain points to help stimulate your nerves and nervous system, as well as muscles and connective tissue, and that specific stimulation helps to boost your body’s natural painkillers, as well as increase blood flow.
By stimulating specific points on the body (known as acupoints) acupuncture promotes the body’s self-healing process, which helps to improve the natural functions of the body. These acupoints are located along channels of energy, known as meridians, that connect our organs.
Illness arises when the body’s natural energy (known as qi) becomes unbalanced or blocked. By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to balance and unblock the meridians, which allows the energy to flow freely and naturally. When the qi is allowed to flow freely, the body becomes balanced and you feel healthier and happier.
A common misconception about acupuncture is that it hurts, and their fear of pain from acupuncture needles is one of the most common reasons people decide not to get acupuncture treatments, but most people find that it doesn’t really hurt.
Often when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the patient reports that they don’t feel anything at all, but most likely that a slight sensation will occur. The needle is very thin and it doesn’t go in very deep – just deep enough to get the energy flowing properly.
The area may be a little sore, or may tingle, or feel numb, but it isn’t what would be described as a painful feeling by most people. The feelings that people most often describe are heavy, achy, electric, tingly and warm. The sensation is actually a good thing, since it is a sign that the energy flow, or qi (pronounced “chee”), has been accessed. The moment when you feel an acupuncture point working, is known in acupuncture lingo as de qi (pronounced “day chee”).
After the treatment is underway, Dr. Kong rolls the needle slightly back and forth in a specific way to stimulate the flow of qi, and this does not hurt either. This is called needling, and is a very important part of the treatment. Dr. Kong is an 8th generation acupuncturist, and certain special points and needling techniques have been passed down within his family.
Acupuncturists use sterile, disposable needles that are made of hair-thin surgical steel. They are used only once, and then disposed of properly in biohazard containers that are then sent to a medical waste management company for proper disposal according to federal laws and regulations.
Chinese and Western scientists have proven that acupuncture does indeed increase levels of endogenous morphine-like substances. Clinical studies of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of illnesses have led to acupuncture’s acceptance beyond pain control.
The use of acupuncture has been shown to effectively treat many types of conditions.The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report called “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.” Below is the World Health Organization’s list of diseases that can effectively be treated by acupuncture. Please note that the inclusion of herbal remedies may broaden the range of disorders listed below:
Respiratory System Conditions
Conditions of the Eye, Ear, Nose & Mouth
In addition, Dr. Kong and the doctors of the Acupuncture & Chinese Medical Center have developed successful treatments for the following health problems:
Neurological and Muscular Disorders
Digestive (Gastrointestinal) Diseases
Reproductive and Gynecological Conditions
Mental and Emotional Problems
How soon patients see results all depends on the type of condition being treated, as well as the individual’s response to treatments. Sometimes immediate relief may be felt after the first one to two treatments. Other times there may be a one or two day delay for the response from treatment, and sometimes it can take several treatments to start feeling results. For example, if a healthy person receives a treatment for a cold, it is likely that they would feel immediate results. On the other hand, if the same person gets treated for back pain they’ve been suffering with for 10 years, it may take several more treatments before they start to feel an improvement n health.
Once improvement is felt and the health goals of a balance in the energies finally happens, it generally lasts for awhile, without the need for prescription medications.
The length, number and frequency of treatments varies from person to person, depending on the underlying conditions being treated, your age and health, and how well you respond to acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture assists your body’s systems to make the changes by itself naturally, and this can sometimes be a slow process, and sometimes people respond quickly.
Generally, chronic or severe ailments may require several treatments over a long period of time, and acute problems such as sprains may require fewer treatments.
A positive response to acupuncture treatments is generally seen after the first to sixth treatment. After you have achieved optimal response, You may be able to schedule your appointments further apart.
In the beginning it is common for treatments to be scheduled one or two times a week at first, in order to obtain optimal response, and then once every week following that. Your acupuncturist will work with you to help you achieve your goal by prescribing Chinese herbs, exercises, dietary changes or pressure points for you to use at home.
Acupuncture is also a preventative medicine. Many people, who have achieved their optimal health, see their acupuncturist only two to four times a year to promote energy, health and vitality, and to help prevent disease.
Yes, acupuncture is very safe for children, and is much safer than prescription medicines for their developing bodies.
It is important that the child be able to sit still and relax properly in order for the treatment to be effective. Special precautions and methods are used when treating very young children who are not yet able to sit still for long.
At least one parent must always be present with a child during treatment.
The most common side effects of acupuncture are positive things uch as more energy, mental clarity, better sleep, better digestion and less stress. Most people report that they feel very energized and relaxed after an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture awakens your self-healing capabilities. With that can come an onslaught of bodily awareness. This usually is a positive experience but it also can mean heightened sensitivity or intolerance for things that previously felt normal.
Possible side-effects of acupuncture may include seemingly worsening symptoms. As your body starts going through the changes involved in moving toward better health, things can sometimes get stirred up, which can cause not only an increase of current symptoms but also the recurrence of previous ailments that had been dormant.
Another possible side-effect of acupuncture is fatigue. If you have this experience, rest as much as possible for the remainder of the day, and try to go to sleep early. The next morning, the combination of rest and acupuncture will leave you feeling refreshed.
Sometimes people report increased soreness after a treatment. Muscle soreness may happen away from the needling site if a trigger point was effectively released during your treatment. Soreness from acupuncture usually goes away within a few hours, but significant trigger point releases can cause residual soreness that lasts sometimes for a few days. However, when that soreness leaves, so will your underlying condition and long-term soreness.
Less common than soreness, a small amount of bruising can sometimes occur at the needling site, and if this occurs it can be helped by applying pressure or ice for a few minutes after the treatment. The majority of patients will never experience bruising.
People may experience small amounts of involuntary muscle twitching during or after an acupuncture treatment. This may occur in muscles that directly receive acupuncture needles, or also on parts of the body that are far away from any needles. This is a good sign that the qi is becoming unblocked, and allowed to flow freely to allow your body to become unbalanced.
People may have an emotional release, which can cause them to cry – not because they are in pain, but because their emotions are unblocked and are allowed to become more free flowing. The emotional release that can happen is usually a positive experience, but it can be surprising for some people. Increased emotional expression is an indication that healing is happening. Physical and emotional health are interconnected, so emotional shifts can indicate physical changes.
On very rare occasions, lightheadedness can occur during or after a treatment. Getting up too quickly from the acupuncture table can cause you to become dizzy, as can coming for an acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach. Acupuncture can be a physically and emotionally intense experience, so when your acupuncture session is over, take your time getting up and move gently as you gather your things to leave. If you find yourself feeling lightheaded after the treatment, sit down for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths.
These side effects are rarely cause for concern, however you know yourself and your body better than anyone else, so if any of the above side effects feel like they’re lasting too long, or become too severe, or if you notice any additional negative reactions to an acupuncture treatment, contact your acupuncturist.
Because of increased consumer demand, and willingness to pay for treatments out-of-pocket, some insurance companies are beginning to include acupuncture. Some are including limited coverage, because they see the cost-benefits of acupuncture, however most insurance policies still do not cover acupuncture. Those that do, will usually only cover acupuncture if it is being used to treat an illness, and not if it is being used as preventative medicine.
Most Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) (aka FLEX plans) do allow you to use your funds to cover acupuncture treatments, but you should check with your provider to make sure. You will need to pay for your treatments at the time of service, but we are happy to help you with whatever forms you need to get reimbursement from them.
Michigan Workers Compensation insurance will cover acupuncture treatments, with a physician’s referral.
You can find out yourself if your insurance does provide benefits for acupuncture treatments by looking in your insurance coverage handbook, or calling your health insurance company’s patient benefits or information telephone number.
Medicaid and Medicare do not provide coverage for any acupuncture treatments at this time.
If you have suffered an injury in an accident, your insurance, or the other parties involved, will pay for your acupuncture treatments. Check with them to learn how to proceed, so you can get treatments.
At this time, we must be paid in full at the time of treatment, but we are able to provide patients with the information that they will need to file a claim for reimbursement from the insurance company themselves.
Acupuncture needles are made from surgical stainless steel, and are pre-sterilized for single use only (disposable).
The needles are made in different gauges and lengths to be used on different areas of the body. The needles used are mostly very fine, and vary from 0.12 mm to 0.35 mm in diameter (about the size of a thick human hair).
No, there is no reason to do that, and we couldn’t even if we wanted to. Acupuncture needles are a filiform type, which means that they are solid, not like the type of hypodermic needles that doctors use to give shots, which are hollow.
Absolutely, not – you only have to believe enough to make an appointment for a consultation and treatment, in order to give yourself the chance to see the positive changes that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can bring to your life. Just as taking medicine causes physiological changes regardless of knowledge or belief in it, acupuncture causes physiological changes in the body regardless of knowledge or belief in the treatment as well. The proof lies in the fact that acupuncture is used effectively on dogs, cats, horses and other animals, as well as infants. These patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in China, and many studies have proven the effectiveness of acupuncture. Read a few testimonials from our patients, and we also have many more available at the clinic for you to read. Of course, a positive attitude toward health and well-being will reinforce the effects of the treatments, just as a negative attitude could hamper the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. Also, a neutral attitude will not negate the effectiveness of the treatment, either.
Generally, it is safe to say that most acupuncture treatments last an hour. When necessary, effective acupuncture treatments can be only 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes the treatments and forms of therapy can last over an hour, depending on the severity of the condition, and how well that person responds to acupuncture. When you have a consultation with Dr. Kong he can determine at that time how long your treatments will be.
Dr. Kong makes every effort to keep your day flowing along smoothly, so when it is necessary, it is possible to have an effective treatment in 30 minutes when treating an ongoing issue. Usually patients prefer a longer, more relaxed session, however treatments can be suited to your schedule. If you are on a tight schedule, it is best not to get a treatment that day, since it is best to be relaxed and not feel rushed in order to have a more effective treatment. Dr Kong sees patients 7 days a week at the Acupuncture and Chinese Medical Center in Ann Arbor, so there is never a problem when trying to find a time that is agreeable.
If you have a scheduled appointment, and need to cancel it, please call the office at (734) 358-3379 as soon as possible to reschedule it.
All of the treatments and consultations are done in clean and private rooms that have a massage table. Private rooms allow for better exploration of a patient’s symptoms and medical history, which is especially useful for chronic or difficult to treat conditions, and for prescribing herbal formulas that are tailored to the patient’s diagnosis.
Private treatments allow for more one-on-one time with your acupuncturist, and patients state that they prefer a private room for discretion and privacy. Remember that this is a healing and medical center, so please be as quiet as possible, ensuring that everyone gets the most out of their treatments.
Call (734) 358-3379 to talk with Dr. Kong or use the appointment form below to schedule an appointement. The initial consultation consists of a comprehensive health evaluation, a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) diagnosis of your condition and a prognosis for treatment. A treatment plan can then be developed that will best meet your needs.
You don’t need to do much to prepare for an acupuncture treatment
Please fill out the new patient forms which you can find by clicking HERE
The night before your treatment it is best to get a full night’s sleep, and in the day of your treatment it is best to avoid strenuous activities, and to eat healthy and light meals. You don’t want to arrive for your treatment feeling really full, or after having eaten food that is heavy, fried or spicy, but do not go for your acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach!
Avoid caffeinated beverages, or alcohol prior to treatments, since they both work against the process of calming the nervous system and can be disruptive to the effectiveness of the treatments.
Wear loose clothing, and come prepared with shorts or loose fitting pants, and a tank top or t-shirt to allow the practitioner to access the areas that needs to be treated.
Don’t rush to your appointment – arrive feeling rested and in as good of a mood if possible. Turn off your cellphone before your treatment so you can relax fully without distractions, and to avoid disrupting other people’s treatments as well. You may bring your own music to allow you to relax, but if you do please remember to use headphones so you won’t disrupt anyone else’s treatments as they try to relax. Also try to speak quietly, since treatments are usually in process for other patients.
Due to the fact that some people report sensitivities to various chemical-based or scented products, please avoid using any prior to your visit. Scented products such as hair spray, perfume, and lotions can trigger reactions such as respiratory distress and headaches. We ask for everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to accommodate their health concerns.
For your acupuncture treatment, Dr. Kong may need to have access to areas just above the knee or up to the shoulder joint, so we ask that you please wear light pants that can be rolled up above the knees, or a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. It is best not to wear skirts, dresses or hose.
You will most likely be taking off your shoes and socks, so please remember to wear footwear that are easy for you to slip off.
Please wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows easy adjustment for accessing necessary parts of your body during the treatment,
The offices are climate controlled for your comfort, so please let us know if the temperature of your treatment room does not suit you.
You will be given private time to get ready for your treatment, to allow you to change in to your clothing and get comfortable.
Looking at the tongue gives a general idea as to which organ is most affected and the prognosis for resolving it. The tongue is the only muscle in the human body we can see that isn’t covered with skin. When Dr. Kong looks at the tongue he is looking at its length, size (swollen or not), shape (cracked or not), color, and any details about the coat on top of it. Each one of these things tells him something different and relates to something within Chinese medical theory.
From a Western perspective, the tongue reveals the quality of blood circulating in the body, how their lymphatic system functions, the presence of yeast or other growths in the body, how a person is digesting, and any longstanding or constitutional conditions.
In Western medicine, the pulse is only a minor diagnostic tool, used mainly to determine heart rate and blood pressure, however it is very important in Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM doctors feel the patient’s pulse and notice not only the rate, but many other qualities. The pulse is diagnosed by it’s length, width or amplitude, how deep and close to the bone, how close it is to the surface, the strength, and other qualities.
Pulse diagnosis gives information on the state of balance of the body as a whole, the state of qi, yin and yang, blood, and even the person’s overall constitution, and the state of individual organs.
Tui na is a Chinese manipulative massage therapy, that uses the principles of Traditional Chinese medicine to bring the body into balance. The name comes from two of the actions involved in the therapy: tui means “to push” and na means “to lift and squeeze.”
The practitioner rubs, rolls and presses the areas between the joints to open the body’s defensive qi (known as wei), and gets the energy moving in the meridians and the muscles. The treatment may be gentle or quite firm, or both.
Tui na aids in the treatment of acute as well as chronic musculoskeletal conditions, and also many non-musculoskeletal conditions.
Cupping is an ancient medical technique that is most often used for musculoskeletal pain, such as back pain. One of the oldest medical textbooks describes how Egyptians were using cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C..
In this treatment, small globe shaped cups are heated and then placed on a specific area. As the cup cools, suction will be created, which draws some skin up inside the cup. The suction of the cups mobilizes blood flow which in turn promotes the healing of a broad range of medical ailments.
There is no bleeding, and you may feel a sensation that is similar to being massaged. You may experience round bruises, redness, or bruising over the affected area that may last 3 to 5 days.
Researchers recently published a study that concluded that cupping therapy may be effective in helping to treat various diseases and conditions, such as herpes zoster, facial paralysis, acne and cervical spondylosis, especially when combined with acupuncture treatments.
In general, herbs can treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Compared to chemical-based prescription medicine, When dispensed by a trained practitioner, herbal medicine is as safe, if not safer than western medicine. Most of the herbs that are used do not cause side effects, and those that do can be counteracted by other specific herbs. For these reasons, people turn to herbal therapy for a large array of ailments and disease. More and more people rely on Chinese herbal medicine as a natural alternative after chemical-based medicine has failed.
Dr. Kong uses herbal medical products from companies that comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations, which require herbs to meet specific safety criteria in order to be sold in the United States. These companies all follow very strict guidelines to make sure that the products are free from any harmful substances such as heavy metal contamination, pharmaceuticals, and sulfites.
There is no increased risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia, congenital anomalies, stillbirth, pregnancy-induced hypertension, premature birth, or normal measures of neonatal health when women receive acupuncture during pregnancy. Because acupuncture has very few, if any, negative side effects, many pregnant women now seek acupuncture treatments as a safe alternative to drug therapy for a number of common pregnancy complaints. Acupuncture is very effective for people who are trying to get pregnant, especially when combined through IVF (In-vitro fertilization) .
In general, acupuncture is safe during pregnancy but special precautions must always be taken, so be sure to always tell your acupuncturist if you are trying to conceive or are pregnant.
Just as Western doctors vary in skill and education, eastern practitioners are the same. Not all acupuncturists know all of the acupuncture points, since many of them are learned through experience, or higher education. Also, each acupuncturist has their own needling technique, which is also an important part of the treatment process.
It is important to keep in mind that there are different levels of acupuncturists, as well. If you want an effective treatment then you want a Chinese Medicine doctor – someone who has gone through the full masters equivalent, or PhD training program and passed whatever exams are required for licensure in the state and country where they are practicing.
Many people try to find acupuncture at the cheapest possible price and then they may complain about the lack of effectiveness, and then dismiss all acupuncture and oriental medicine as a result. You owe it to yourself to find the best doctor, with the best credentials and background that you can find.
Electroacupuncture (also referred to as electrostimulation) is most often used for musculoskeletal pain and paralysis, and there is evidence that electroacupuncture is also effective in treating moderate post-chemotherapy vomiting.
Electroacupuncture is quite similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are stimulated during treatment. Tiny electrodes are attached to acupuncture needles which are also attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses into the muscle and acupoint. Think of it as TENS treatment, combined with acupuncture.
It is not painful or uncomfortable. Electroacupuncture uses pairs of needles at time so that the impulses can pass from one needle to the other, and between the two acupoints. Several pairs of needles can be stimulated simultaneously.
Dr. Kong is conveniently located at:
Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine
4343 Concourse Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Off of S. State, and just South of Ellsworth
across from the Ann Arbor airport
Phone: (734) 358-3379
Open 7 Days a Week!
We strive to ensure the comfort and safety of staff and visitors by encouraging a scent-free environment, and ask that you refrain from using or applying cologne, perfume, aftershave lotions, fragranced hair products, or scented body washes and lotions prior to coming t the clinic for your treatments.
The use of such products may trigger allergic reactions in some sensitive patients who are chemically sensitive to fragrances and other scented products, and could possibly create health problems.
In addition, the wearing of scented products will interfere with your diagnosis, because Traditional Chinese Medicine uses smell as a diagnosis tool, along with checking your pulse and tongue, and a number of other observational tools.
Dr. Kong will do house calls for patients who are unable to make office appointments due to health reasons. House calls are available by request, and appointment times are available. Call (734) 358-3379 for more information.
We accept cash, checks and MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express credit cards