Acupuncture FAQs

Does it hurt?
No – acupuncture doesn’t have to hurt, and it definitely doesn’t feel like getting a shot at the doctor’s office. The needles are NOT like hypodermic needles: they are MUCH thinner, are not hollow, do not inject anything into the body, and are flexible–sort of like a cat whisker!

Usually patients feel nothing when the needle goes in, and then may feel a slight pressure or ache in the area. Most patients are pleasantly surprised how painless acupuncture can be. Occasionally, you may feel a slight pinch when the needle goes in, which dissipates right away. If a needle is uncomfortable, we will adjust it or take it out! Suffering is not part of the treatment; on the contrary, usually patients feel very relaxed and often nap, feeling calm and refreshed afterward. Check out our “What to Expect” page for more – and to see real patients relaxing in our treatment room!

Are the needles sterile?
Absolutely. At our clinic, we use fine, sterile, single-use disposable needles, and we mostly select points from the knees to the toes and from the elbows to the fingers. Not only are these points very effective in treating almost any aspect of the body/mind, they also mean that patients can be treated while remaining fully clothed. Please know that acupuncture is generally extremely safe (especially the style that we practice), and almost always free of “side effects” (the most common risk is of small, temporary bruising, which in our experience happens in less than one out of one hundred needle insertions). Actually, the most common “side effects” our patients report is a sense of well-being, increased ability to handle stress, and better quality of sleep!

How does it work?
From the traditional perspective, acupuncture works by re-establishing a healthy flow of energy in the body; this enables the body to use its own resources more efficiently, so that it can heal more quickly and more thoroughly. From a modern scientific perspective, lots of studies have been done, but none of them have answered that question completely. From our practical perspective, we at DCA are less concerned with how it works, because we see how much it does work. Moreover, you don’t have to believe in it for it to work (acupuncture has been used with good results on animals), and you don’t have to change your beliefs. For more information on the current state of acupuncture research, check out the National Institutes of Health portal.

What’s it good for?
Because acupuncture helps boost your body’s own healing capacity, it can potentially help with *almost* anything! Our patients have found it to be very helpful in speeding the healing of acute problems, such as the common cold or muscle strains or sprains; it can also be good in alleviating chronic pain (and often enables patients to cut down their pain medications). It can also be very helpful for chronic, nagging health problems such as PMS, insomnia, allergies, and digestive problems. Regular weekly treatments can help support patients with serious health problems that also require mainstream medical treatment, and studies (including one conducted at Henry Ford a few years ago) have found it to be helpful in alleviating the side effects associated with cancer treatment. Acupuncture is especially wonderful for any condition that is worsened by stress.

We are not medical doctors, and always recommend that people check in with their regular doctor, especially for pains or infections that do not change with treatment or continue to get worse. If you are on any prescription medications, let your doctor know if you are getting acupuncture, and do NOT stop taking your medicine without checking in with your prescribing physician.

How long will it take to help?
That depends. Acupuncture might be mysterious, but it’s not magic. We have occasionally seen it work “overnight” for some problems, but more often, like most therapies, it takes a course of treatment — that’s another reason we keep our fees low. Your age, general state of health, working conditions, stress level and support network – all these things can be factors in how fast treatments work, and how long their effects last.

Do I have to have a specific health problem to benefit from acupuncture?
Not at all! Many of us – because of a lack of health insurance, or for other reasons – wait until something is wrong before seeking medical help. However, with regular acupuncture, many people experience increased immunity and resistance to infections, more energy, and stress reduction. These benefits can go a long way in helping people to avoid major, chronic health issues. Western Medicine is wonderful at saving lives; acupuncture can do wonders to help improve quality of life.

Is it okay to get acupuncture when I’m also taking medicine/scheduled for surgery/getting chiropractic treatments/pregnant/etc.?
The answer is almost always yes. Since acupuncture helps the body heal itself (without adding or taking anything away), it’s rarely contraindicated. If you have questions, check in with your doctor (and if they have questions, have them call us).

Can children get acupuncture?
Sure! Some of our bravest and most curious patients are kids, and they frequently respond to treatment more quickly than adults. Depending upon their age, wriggliness, and anxiety about needles, we will often use fewer needles and leave them for a shorter period (with very small kids the needles are not retained at all).

How much does it cost?
Our sliding scale is $15 – $35 per treatment. We do not ask for income verification; you decide where to pay on the scale. Many conditions can require getting treatments more than once a week (especially at first); we would rather you pay lower on the scale and be able to come in frequently enough to get better, than for you to pay higher on the scale, come less often, and get less benefit. At your first visit, we can give you a sense of what the treatment plan should be for your condition, and discuss any questions that you have about payment or scheduling.

If I pay less/more, do I get fewer/more needles (or less/more time)?
Nope! The sliding scale is just there to help you fit your recommended treatment plan to your budget; what you pay does not affect your treatment. The number of needles is used during a treatment is based only on the treatment approach required for each individual’s needs. And as long as we have room, you can stay as long as you like (until closing time)!

Do you take insurance?
DCA does not accept insurance; partly because of our sliding scale (which insurance companies don’t like). However, most of our patients who have insurance find that our fees are not much higher than the standard co-pay would be for acupuncture. If you happen to have an insurance plan that covers acupuncture, we can supply you with a receipt (a “superbill”) for your paid appointments, to seek reimbursement on your own.

Is the clinic a nonprofit?
No. While we never expect to make a high profit – only to make a reasonable living – we felt that the many steps involved in creating a nonprofit were prohibitive and unnecessary. Unlike a nonprofit, which is supported by grants, DCA is solely supported by patients paying for treatments. The Community Acupuncture model is a “social business” model, as inspired by the work of Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

I’m ready to try it! How do I make an appointment?

Click on the green button in the right sidebar to schedule yourself online, or call the clinic at 313-831-3222.

I have a crazy unpredictable schedule. Can I just drop in?
Yes! If we’re not booked solid, we’re happy to take you. If you’re traveling from far away, we recommend calling first just to make sure we have room for you. Please note that the first and last hour of any shift are usually the busiest, so those are often the hardest times for us to squeeze someone in. Please call first during those hours.

More questions about acupuncture, or Community Acupuncture specifically? Check out “Why Did You Put That Needle There?” by our charming New Hampshire comrade Andy Wegman. And for even more information about how Community Acupuncture clinics approach acupuncture and business, we carry the excellent “Acupuncture is Like Noodles,” by the always-eloquent Lisa Rohleder. Both are available for purchase at the clinic, and a portion of the sales of each of them goes back to helping the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, a multistakeholder cooperative dedicated to making Community Acupuncture more widely available. We are proud to be a POCA member–and you can be one too!