Daniel J. Ragone, Jr., M.D., PA
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture emerged more than 3000 years ago in China as a natural way to promote health and well being. The Chinese believed that a "vital energy" (known as Qi, pronounced "chee") maintained the body's health and disruptions in the Qi flow cause pain and patholgy. The idea was to regulate the flow of qi by inserting needles at the specific points along the body's external landmarks, known as "meridians."
Over time, this ancient Chinese belief system was modified by other Asian and European societies. Today, it is practiced in both pure (known as "Traditional Chinese Medicine) and hybrid forms. One such hybrid, medical acupuncture, incorporates acupuncture into Western medical practice. The term "medical acupuncture" describes acupuncture performed by a physician trained and licensed in Western medicine who has had thorough training in acupuncture. Such a doctor uses Western medicine and/or acupuncture to treat illness.
How does Acupuncture Work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the bodies tissues. An obstruction in any of these energy rivers serves as a dam to block the other rivers causing symptoms .
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating nervous system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
What should I expect at my first Acupuncture consultation?
Dr. Ragone asks patients considering acupuncture as a possible treatment to first schedule a consultation. This consultation is like any other doctor visit you schedule and therefore covered by most major health insurance carriers. During this visit, Dr. Ragone will carefully review your complaints and your medical history and then perform a physical exam. He uses this consultation, to help you decide if acupuncture is an appropriate intervention for your problem. Some insurance companies pay for acupuncture. Because each insurance provider has different restrictions, you should consult with your provider to determine if acupuncture is covered.