Partnering Acupuncture with Your Medical Care
Posted 8/25/2016 by UHBlog
Are you new to acupuncture? Or, do you wonder how it might complement the conventional medicine treatments you’re receiving?
“When acupuncturists work hand-in-hand with physicians we can take a patient’s health and well-being to the next level,” says licensed acupuncturist Julia Proctor-Indriolo, MSOM,LAC. “Many patients benefit significantly from an individualized, multidisciplinary model of care that includes access to licensed complementary care practitioners, like acupuncturists, in addition to conventional care providers.”
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles through the skin at strategic points along the body to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions. Originating in ancient China, acupuncture is now widely practiced in the West.
To better understand the effectiveness of this East meets West approach to patient care, Proctor-Indriolo answers the seven questions people often ask:
- Should I tell my doctor I’m working with an acupuncturist?
“Yes,” she says. “That way all the medical professionals involved in your care will be on the same page and can work together to help you reach your health goals. Keeping the lines of communication open is very important for the best outcome.”
- Does my acupuncturist need to know about my conventional health care before I begin treatment?
“Your acupuncturist should know if a patient is pregnant, has chronic skin problems, has breast implants or is prone to infection,” Proctor-Indriolo says. “Also, in cases where acupuncture involves applying mild electrical pulses to the needles, the acupuncturist should be told if a person has a pacemaker.”
- Can medications, like blood thinners, affect acupuncture?
“Acupuncture has little or no side effects,” she says. “However, if someone is taking aspirin or blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) there is only a minor risk of bruising – a patient’s ability to achieve pain relief from acupuncture is not affected.”
“As a precaution, however, you should inform your acupuncturist if you are on a blood thinner so she can be alert and prepared,” Proctor-Indriolo says.
- What type of communication or interaction should there be between my doctor and my acupuncturist?
“At UH Connor Integrative Health Network, we communicate directly with the UH referring doctors,” says Proctor-Indriolo. “Because we are in the UH system, we can access medical records and get the latest test results and other pertinent information about a patient’s condition or progress. That helps with a coordinated treatment plan.”
- What types of illness or surgery can be treated effectively by both acupuncture and conventional medicine?
“Acupuncture and conventional medicine work very well together to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy, such as helping to reduce nausea, vomiting and overall pain,” she says. “It is also an effective treatment method for post-surgery pain and can help with migraines, back pain, female reproductive issues, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and many other ailments.”
- Is the use of acupuncture increasing in the U.S.?
“Acupuncture is being recommended more frequently than ever before by Western medical doctors,” Proctor-Indriolo says. “The number of referrals we get from physicians throughout the health system continues to increase, and each day we are building a stronger relationship with our physicians. The benefits of us working together is becoming more recognized as people are inquiring and wanting to try acupuncture to see what it can do for them.”
- Can acupuncturists work with psychiatrists for mental and emotional health issues?
“Because acupuncture helps reduce stress, encourages relaxation and balances out the emotions, we often see patients with mild to moderate anxiety and depression issues,” says Proctor-Indriolo.
Julia Proctor-Indriolo, MSOM, LAC is a licensed acupuncturist and meditation instructor with University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Proctor-Indriolo or any other health care provider online.