THE ART OF ACUPUNCTUREMay 09, 2016 05:40PM ● By Deborah Burstyn
What is it? Acupuncture involves the stimulation of points along the body by penetrating the skin with ultra-thin metal needles. Where the needles are placed, how many, and for how long varies with the conditions being treated. Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Millions of Americans use it each year, mostly for chronic pain.
Who does it? Walnut Creek acupuncturist Chulong Xue was trained in the Chinese city of Guangzhou as both an orthopedic surgeon and an acupuncturist. As is common in China, he practiced a combination of both modern and ancient medicine. He relocated to San Francisco ten years ago and taught acupuncture at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Then in 2006 moved to Walnut Creek and opened the Xue Acupuncture Clinic on Civic Drive.
What does it treat? “Acupuncture is always a good first resort to try before turning to prescription drugs and surgery. It’s less invasive and has no side effects. We have a lot of research that shows it’s safe and effective,” Dr. Xue says. He adds that half to two thirds of health insurance providers in the US cover it. “Knee problems are the most common condition treated, but we also treat people who have neck, shoulder and back pain.” Dr. Xue, who has practiced acupuncture for about 30 years, has about 950 patients. Some come to see him for a sprained ankle, others for a regular tune-up.
What do I need to know? Before you head into one of his treatment rooms, Dr. Xue will give you a Chinese medical exam. It consists of four parts and involves all the senses. First there's an interview to discuss your health and evaluate the sound of your voice. Then he observes your complexion, eyes and tongue, feels your pulse and checks the texture, temperature and moisture level of your skin.He also uses his sense of smell to detect any subtle odors that signal possible health conditions. “We can determine what is treatable by us or whether you need to go get an X-ray or MRI,” says Dr. Xue. Sometimes it's just a matter of your chi being out of balance.
How long do treatments last? Treatments last from 30 minutes to an hour. As for the sticking point? “A needle is a needle,” says Dr. Xue. “When we insert the needle, yes, there is a little sting. In general the level of discomfort depends on the needling skills of the acupuncturist, where the needles need to be inserted, and the pain sensitivity of the patient themselves. Most patients accept it. They understand that for it to work you have to feel something.” BY DEBORAH BURSTYN