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New Patient FAQ’s

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Experiencing acupuncture for the first time can be pleasurable and relaxing, but many patients have questions about this ancient practice. These FAQs seek to dissolve any mystery surrounding your first acupuncture treatment. There are also some things you can do to make the most out of your session.

What does it mean that you’re a “group practice?”

We operate as a team. You are free to see any acupuncturist at any time. We coordinate care to assure that you’re getting high quality and good continuity of care. While many people will switch between practitioners, others prefer to stick with one—either way is completely fine.

What should I expect at my first appointment?

Your first acupuncture appointment will be about an hour long, but please budget 1.5 hours in your schedule. This will give you extra time after your appointment to make a relaxed transition to the rest of your day, schedule your next appointments, ask questions and take care of any other administrative details.

When you first arrive at the office, the front desk staff will help complete your profile in our system, including insurance information, credit/debit/HSA/FSA card info, and profile photo.

This profile photo is private to the clinic, and will be uploaded to your confidential HIPAA compliant medical profile. This helps us if you come into the clinic to see an acupuncturist you haven’t previously seen, so that they can know what you look like when you arrive.

During your check-in, front desk staff will review your insurance coverage and ask for your insurance card so that we can scan it and send that insurance information in to our benefits verification team.

Then you’ll get a quick clinic tour, and if you arrived early you can wait in the waiting room and check out our library of alternative health books. Once the appointment begins you will go into one of our consultation rooms with your acupuncturist to discuss your health concerns, focusing on the main complaint(s) you’d like to address during your acupuncture session. After finishing your consultation, you’ll go to the acupuncture treatment area to begin your session, which will last until the end of your appointment time.

How long is an appointment?

Our acupuncture appointments are about an hour long. Please allocate at least one hour and 15 minutes in your schedule for planning purposes—it’s better to not have to rush off immediately to a next appointment.

What should I wear to my appointment?

There is no need to wear particular clothing when receiving acupuncture. We have towels and sheets available to cover up parts of the body if your acupuncturists needs access to a point that will require you to remove clothing.

Also, we ask that whenever possible, please avoid wearing colognes, perfumes or other fragrances. We have many clients who are sensitive or allergic to these scents.  

Should I eat before an appointment?

Yes. Ideally, you don’t want to be too hungry or too full. If you come into an appointment too hungry your acupuncturist may request that you eat something before beginning the treatment. This will prevent you from getting dizzy or light-headed.

For those who are fasting we recommend booking appointments as close as you can to the last time that you ate.

Ideally (with the exception of migraines that respond well to caffeine, and other similar conditions), you won’t have caffeine too soon before an appointment—this will help you relax more easily during your session, and have a more effective treatment. But if it happens—don’t worry, your treatment will turn out fine.

Is acupuncture relaxing?

Yes, acupuncture can be very relaxing. Many of our patients (which include us when we get treatments!) come out of acupuncture feeling calm, relaxed, and even sleepy. It is also fairly common for patients to fall asleep while they are relaxing on the acupuncture table.

When will I start feeling the effects of the treatment?

This varies depending on your situation. Commonly, you will feel a reduction or elimination of your main symptom after your treatment. This will last approximately 1-7 days in our experience, and then begin to come back. That’s why we usually request patients to come in either weekly or twice a week (depending on your situation) for their first 4 sessions. After that, we evaluate your progress and recommend a follow up treatment plan.

Acupuncture is a bit like physical therapy in this regard – for chronic conditions you will need several treatments to gradually re-educate your body and nervous system into proper functioning. For acute conditions, things will often resolve more quickly than with chronic cases.

Something that many people don’t realize, but is really cool – acupuncture often heals things beyond your main complaint, without you even expecting it! Many people who come in regularly to treat one problem may notice other benefits as well. For example, you came in for back pain, but you may also notice that you’re feeling less stress in your daily life, that you’re sleeping better at night, or all of a sudden your heartburn is better. This is because acupuncture has such a broad effect on your nervous system, which is one of the reasons acupuncture excels at treating complex conditions and health issues.

What’s a typical initial treatment plan?

Commonly, you will feel a reduction or elimination of your main symptom after your treatment. This will last approximately 1-7 days in our experience, and then begin to come back.

That’s why at first we usually request that you come in either weekly or twice a week (depending on your situation) for your first 4 sessions. After that, we evaluate your progress and recommend a follow up treatment plan.

Acupuncture is a bit like physical therapy—for chronic conditions you will need several treatments to gradually re-educate your body and nervous system into proper functioning. For acute conditions, things will often resolve more quickly than with chronic cases.

After your initial treatment plan is completed, your acupuncturist will give you a follow-up treatment plan that is tailored to your level of progress.

What symptoms does acupuncture work for?

Whether you are having issues with pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, fertility, muscle/nervous system disorders, and more, acupuncture has been shown to help improve symptoms with regular treatments. Learn more about what acupuncture can treat.

When should I get acupuncture if I have an injury?

If you have an injury to a muscle or joint, it’s best to get treatment as soon as possible. There’s a lot we can do for you with both acupuncture and herbal medicine for early stage acute injuries. Acupuncture can be very helpful at any stage of the healing process, whether it’s acute or chronic.

Does acupuncture hurt?

In general, acupuncture is not a painful experience. It feels like a quick small pin prick that goes away instantly. It feels nothing like getting a shot at the doctors office, which is what people are usually concerned about. The effects of acupuncture are generally extremely relaxing.

Do we do dry needling?

Dry needling commonly refers to using long, wide gauge needles to create deep trigger point release in various muscles. We do not offer the kind of dry needling that is commonly practiced by physical therapists and other healthcare practitioners. The closest thing we offer is light trigger point needling with shorter, thin gauge needles in a few select areas of the body. 

We offer a variety of treatments that effectively treat pain, including several styles of acupuncture, cupping and herbal medicine. Let us know if you have any questions about what service would be right for you!

Can children get acupuncture?

Children can get acupuncture. Our clinic will see children for treatments ages 12 and older. We ask that all minors be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for their treatment.

What is cupping? When to book cupping?

During a cupping with acupuncture appointment, special plastic or glass cups are “suctioned” onto the patient’s back by the acupuncturist. These cups will be left in place for 10-15 minutes while they pull blood up into the back and shoulder muscles. This removes stagnation from the area and loosens tight muscles. Read more about the benefits of Cupping with Acupuncture.

Cupping with acupuncture appointments can be booked by returning patients via online scheduling. These sessions cost $95.

Marks from cupping

Cupping will often leave marks on the skin. The marks indicate blood stagnation that was removed from your muscles. These are actually not bruises – they are a positive sign of a healing process. On average these marks disappear after about 3 days, but for some people it can be shorter or longer. We recommend waiting until those marks have completely gone away before booking another cupping appointment.

We need to evaluate you at the time of the appointment to see if cupping is appropriate

While cupping is suitable for the grand majority of patients, there are occasional times when cupping is not advised and contraindicated. We will evaluate you at each visit to make sure that cupping is appropriate for you at that time. This will be determined during your consultation with the acupuncturist at the beginning of your appointment.

Do you take insurance? How does insurance work at the clinic?

We are in-network with all insurance companies. However, many insurance policies, especially in the DC area, have very good in-network coverage for acupuncture.

We would be happy to check your insurance policy to see if it covers acupuncture—just fill our our Benefits Verification form. It will take our team about two business days to check your policy. After we have the details of your policy we will send you an email explaining your coverage.

When you come in for an acupuncture treatment you will pay at the time of service, and we will give you paperwork to submit to your company for reimbursement. A new patient acupuncture appointment is $125 and a return patient acupuncture appointment is $95. If you have in-network coverage, we will give you a detailed receipt/superbill at the end of your visit. This document has all the information needed to submit for reimbursement.

What forms of payment does Transformational Acupuncture accept?

We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, HSA and FSA cards, as well as cash and checks.

Do you take HSA/FSA cards?

Yes we do. Acupuncture is a covered service for HSA/FSA plans, and herbal medicine consults and products may be covered depending on your plan’s policies.

Do you have a cancellation policy?

Yes. There is a $50 fee for all no-shows and cancellations within 24 hours of the appointment.

Can I make an appointment on someone else’s behalf?

Yes you may. To avoid any confusion, please do not book the appointment under your own name. If you book online, please create a Mindbody profile with the person’s name, email address, and phone number. If you need help, we’re happy to be of assistance—just call our front desk at (202) 297-7404, or use our contact us form.

Is there an elevator or escalator in your building?

No there is not an elevator or escalator in our building. Our location only has stairs. We are on the third floor of the building. If stairs will not work for you, please let us know and we’ll refer you to local practices that have elevator access.

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