What is Acupuncture ?

Acupuncture is an ancient healing modality that addresses modern conditions. Based on over 3000 years of careful observation, it has a unique perspective on symptoms and health that is radically different from Western Medicine. As a complement to Western Medicine, it helps the body to adapt to change and stress and increases the activity of the immune system. As a healing modality, it can address chronic pain and other issues that Western Medicine may not. The “side effects” of acupuncture include less illness, better sleep and less stress. By using sterile, disposable needles on certain points on the body, we can bring about change on many levels.

Can acupuncture help….?

The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have a long list of conditions that acupuncture has been proven to affect. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Allergies and chronic sinus congestion
  • Arthritis
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Digestion problems, including IBS, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
  • Women’s health, including PMS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headache, including migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Lower back pain and sciatica
  • Substance or Alcohol Dependence
  • Stop Smoking
  • Side effects of radiation and/or chemotherapy

How do I choose a practitioner that’s right for me?

Here are some different takes on how to choose a practitioner:

The most important things to look at from our perspective are:

Training– How long have they studied? How many hours of training? (Note that MDs and other medical professionals can become licensed with a much shorter course of study; this means while they can use points for pain relief, they aren’t trained in the theory of the medicine and therefore can have more trouble using it holistically.)

Licensure– They should be licensed in the state in which they practice. This often includes NCCAOM Diplomate certification and Clean Needle Technique. Maryland is one of the few states that does not require NCCAOM certification, so it’s a good sign the practitioner is interested in furthering their knowledge if they are a Diplomate here. (Like we are at Five Dances Acupuncture!)

Style– Both Five Element and TCM practitioners are effective at symptom relief, but there are differences in approach. The best way to assess someone’s style is to request a free consultation to gain knowledge of how they will approach your health concern and get a feel for how they will treat you. You can book your free consult by using the green “Book Brunswick” or “Book Greenbelt” buttons in the upper right of this page.

Does acupuncture hurt?

For the most part, no, acupuncture does not hurt. We use one time, disposable needles that are thinner than a human hair. Although they are called “needles”, they bear very little resemblance to hypodermic needles used for shots. Occasionally you might feel a small amount of sensation when the needle enters the skin, but this doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. Patients are generally surprised at how little they feel the needles in treatment.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture with disposable, one use needles, is extremely safe. We follow clean needle technique and CDC protocols in regards to needle insertion and disposal. There is a small risk of pneumothorax (lung puncture) when untrained or under-trained practitioners use chest points and upper back points for treatment. We are nationally board certified practitioners (more than the Maryland Licensing Board requires) and are specially trained to avoid pneumothorax.

What conditions are treated with acupuncture?

Conditions that respond well to acupuncture are conditions that are affected by the inflammation response. This includes things like chronic pain in any area of the body, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, gout, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or chronic inflammation. We often treat people that have gone through all the offerings of Western Medicine and have been told “there’s nothing else we can do for you.” While we’d like to help people before they are at the end of their rope, we often can make a difference when Western Medicine has given up.

Do you take insurance?

We are currently an in-network provider with:

Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield, including Federal plans



For all other insurance, we can bill out-of-network as a courtesy.  Please contact your insurance company for coverage details. You might also be able to use Flex Spending dollars; this may require a doctor’s prescription for acupuncture. While we do not currently accept  Flex Spending credit cards, we can provide you with the appropriate receipt to be reimbursed.

How does Obamacare affect your practice?

We are still evaluating this in our practice. One notable portion of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) makes it illegal for your insurance company to require acupuncture services be performed by an MD only. Acupuncture can now be reimbursed if the practitioner is licensed in the appropriate state. With all the changes in health care policy, we recommend you contact your insurance provider to find out what your options are, and remind them of the ACA if they insist you need an MD to be treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture is also being evaluated as an Essential Health Benefit (EHB) in the state of Maryland.  This would mean the new insurance exchange plans will need to cover acupuncture.  As we learn more about how it will affect our practice, we’ll keep you informed.

What forms of payment are accepted?

Cash, personal check, Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover

How many treatments will I need?

We create an individualized treatment plan for you at your first visit. Treatment plans vary depending on how long you have been having symptoms, what the change in intensity of the symptoms is over time, and numerous other factors. Most patients experience some relief of their symptom within 4 weekly treatments, and can then begin to spread apart treatments to every 2-3 weeks. It depends on the individual.

What is Five Element Acupuncture?

Five Element Acupuncture is a style of acupuncture based on Japanese and Chinese concepts, as well as an adherence to Chinese Medical Classics, particularly the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen and the Nan Jing. Formulated by Professor J.R. Worsley in Leamington Spa, England, its holistic approach works with each patient’s unique constellation of symptoms and health history to move them back into balance with themselves and the world around them. People who visit a Five Element practitioner report not only relief of physical symptoms, but a greater insight into who they are in the world. The work can be inspiring, uplifting, and life-changing.

Is it a religion? Do I have to believe in it for it to work?

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are NOT religions or religious-based. Chinese medicine provides a different set of glasses to view the world and our health from Western medicine, but does not interfere with or preclude differing religious beliefs. We are here to help you feel better, and while that may occasionally mean changing your thinking, your religion is a sacred part of you that we wish to honor and respect. No “belief” in the needles or the theory is needed in order for effective pain relief to occur. Patients who are ready to make deep changes in their lives often use their religion as an anchor within the process, and that’s fine, even encouraged. We want you to feel comfortable integrating acupuncture into your life, no matter what your belief system. If the music we play, the words we use or the treatments we perform make you uncomfortable in any way, including from your religious standpoint, please let your practitioner know immediately so we can address your concerns. Our intention is to keep the treatment room a safe space where healing can occur.

What makes your practice special?

Five Dances Acupuncture is committed to being a partner in your healthcare journey. We aren’t just here to fix symptoms, but to help you learn about your body and regain control over your health. We work with patients regarding all aspects of their lives- work, diet, lifestyle choices and medical history- to empower them. We don’t want you to have to come to treatment forever; we want you to get better for good and tell your friends and family about your life-changing experience with us. If you just want to fix your knee, we can help with that too, but it’s not our main reason for being here. We want to work with patients on a deep level and really help them heal. If you are really ready to get better and feel better for life, we are your practice.