Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain, promote relaxation, and support well-being. A licensed acupuncturist provides these services at Integrative Health and Wellbeing at NewYork-Presbyterian.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture treatment consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable, sterile needles at strategic points on the surface of the body. Each point provides a specific function to regulate a free flow of blood and vital energy, or "Qi" (pronounced “chee”). When this energy is impaired or blocked, it may result in physical discomfort and emotional distress. Acupuncture balances and restores the flow of this energy, which directs the body's natural healing ability to where it is needed.
The benefits of acupuncture
Acupuncture helps people in different ways. It has been shown to have the following benefits:
- Relief of pain, achieved by stimulating the body to produce natural painkillers called endorphins
- A deep state of relaxation
- Reduction of glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the blood
- Improvement in digestion through better functioning of the gastrointestinal system
- Better balance of the endocrine (hormonal) system
- Improved circulation
- Enhanced healing ability
Can acupuncture help you?
Acupuncture can help people with a broad range of discomforts and ailments, such as:
- Musculoskeletal pain, including back pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and joint pain (such as osteoarthritis)
- Digestive complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Upper respiratory problems
- Support during radiation therapy and chemotherapy
- Nausea in pregnancy
- Menopause symptoms
- Migraines and other headaches
- Stress and anxiety
- Seasonal allergies
- Chronic fatigue
What to expect during an acupuncture session
At Integrative Health and Wellbeing at NewYork-Presbyterian, your first acupuncture session will be about 90 minutes long. The acupuncturist will assess your health and your needs by carefully listening to you during an interview; checking the pulses of your wrists; examining your tongue, face, and skin; and listening to the sound of your voice. Your acupuncture treatment will be specifically tailored to your personal health and needs. Subsequent sessions will last one hour and also begin with an assessment Go tby the acupuncturist.
Here’s what you can expect, and the answers to some common questions:
- Your position. Most people receive acupuncture treatment lying down, though sometimes a seated position is used.
- What to wear. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- Does acupuncture hurt? Acupuncture needles are much thinner than typical hypodermic needles. When the acupuncturist inserts them, you will not feel pain. You may feel nothing, or you may experience mild sensation at the needle sites such as light numbness or warmth. Many people are surprised at the depth of relaxation and improved well-being they feel during a session. The needles are retained for 15-30 minutes.
- How quickly will I feel better? You may experience relief of your symptoms immediately and/or over the following days, weeks, and months.
- How often and for how long will I need acupuncture? Your treatment frequency and duration depend on the reason you are receiving acupuncture and other individual needs. Generally, once or twice a week is recommended in the beginning, with sessions eventually spacing out to every other week, monthly, or even seasonally if that is what works best for you.
Acupuncture has a cumulative effect, so we recommend making time in your schedule to receive it consistently. It’s also best to begin acupuncture treatment early in the course of your discomfort or to prevent such problems from developing at all, rather than as a last resort.
Group acupuncture (not offered in a group setting due to COVID-19)
Have you always wanted to try acupuncture, but haven’t done so because of the cost or lack of access? Acupuncture in a group setting can make this treatment more affordable and accessible. Group acupuncture can create a shared atmosphere of collective healing. It is now available at Integrative Health and Wellbeing at NewYork-Presbyterian for people experiencing chronic pain (Tuesdays 9 AM-5 PM), cancer symptoms (Wednesdays 10:30 AM-12:30 PM), and stress, anxiety, or insomnia (Thursdays 4-6 PM). Here’s what to expect:
- You arrive wearing loose, comfortable clothes. You and the other participants (up to 12 people) sit on chairs or lie on massage tables.
- At the beginning of the session, you will speak with one of our integrative health physicians to review your symptoms. While listening to soothing music, the acupuncturist quietly and briefly speaks with each of you to determine your needs. After you roll up your sleeves or pants legs, the acupuncturist places the needles where they are needed.
- The needles are removed at the end of your treatment. Each session lasts up to 20 minutes.
- These services may be covered by insurance.
You will need a referral from a Weill Cornell Medicine physician or your own doctor. To make an appointment, call 646-697-9355. Walk-ins may be accommodated if there is space.
What sets us apart
We know you have many choices when it comes to getting acupuncture in New York City. At NewYork-Presbyterian, you can rest assured you are receiving acupuncture from a trained and licensed practitioner in a clinical setting.
Call us to make an appointment. We are located in the David H. Koch Center, with the entrance located on 69th Street.
Our acupuncturist participates in several insurance plans. While many insurers cover our services, please check with your plan in advance of receiving care to see if the requested service is covered.