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About Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the therapies included in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practice of acupuncture has the oldest recorded written history of any medical modality, and it has been continually practiced (generation to generation) for more than 3000 years. Today, acupuncture is used extensively by one quarter of the world’s population residing in Asia. Its popularity is now growing rapidly in the Western world. This ancient healing art involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points of the body. Acupuncture (along with herbal treatments, nutrition, and exercise) works with the natural vital energies of the body to promote its ability to heal itself.

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How widely is acupuncture used in the United States?

According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey–the largest and most comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative medicine use by American adults to date–an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults have used acupuncture.

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What are the principles of acupuncture or how does it work?

It is believed that there is an ethereal (energetic) substance called “Qi” (pronounced “chee”). Qi is inhaled through the lungs at birth and then circulates through specific channels called “meridians”. When Qi gets deficient, polluted, out of balance or stagnated, a person feels unwell. Acupuncture helps restore the balance of Qi by clearing blocked meridians, strengthening deficient organs and calming hyperactive organs.

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Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. Relatively few complications from acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year. Acupuncturists are trained in exact location, angle, and depth of insertion of acupuncture needle to avoid any injuries.

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Is acupuncture painful?

Although people experience acupuncture differently, most feel no pain at all or a minimal sensation when the needles are inserted. The needles are solid sterile stainless steel, and are as thin as a human hair. Some people are energized by their treatment, while many feel relaxed.

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What criteria should one use in choosing an acupuncturist?

We recommend choosing an acupuncturist based on 3 criteria: 1. Knowledge 2. Experience and 3. Approach.

  1. Knowledge. Be certain that your acupuncturist fully understands the field. If you look at Susan’s title, you’ll see lots of initials after her name: Susan Sandage, L.Ac.,Dipl.O.M. M.S.O.M., RN, BS & BA. This means that Susan’s training goes far beyond the licensing requirements of the State of Virginia. In addition to having two Bachelors’ degrees and a degree in nursing, Susan has a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine.Most importantly, she has been certified in both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology by The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) . After four years of training at an approved college of Oriental Medicine, and after passing a rigorous written and practical exam, Susan earned both the titles “Licensed Acupuncturist” or “L.Ac.” and “Dipl Ac”. (Diplomate of Acupuncture).Because she is so highly trained, Susan’s credentials surpass both state and national requirements for licensing as an acupuncturist. When considering acupuncturists, you should find out if they have merely passed a state exam, or if they have extensive knowledge of both acupuncture and Chinese herbs (which are just as important to acupuncture as pharmacology is to Western medicine). Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated healthcare profession by the Virginia state medical board. Always look for a copy of the license, which should be clearly displayed in the practitioner’s office.
  2. Experience. Susan has been practicing medicine for 33 years, first as a nurse, and now as a fully trained and licensed acupuncturist.
  3. Approach. Once you know that you are working with an experienced professional, you should also make sure that you feel an affinity with the person who will be administering your acupuncture treatments. Does he or she listen to you and make you feel comfortable? Do you feel you can trust this person? A good relationship is an important foundation for your healing. To read what other clients have said about Susan and her bedside manner, click here.

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About Acupuncture Treatment

How is Oriental medicine compatible with Western medicine?

Oriental medicine can work to complement the benefits of western medicine. Both Western and Oriental Medicine have their respective strengths. That is why in modern China, the two systems are used together. When appropriately combined, the patient is well served.

In addition, Oriental medicine can often reduce unpleasant side effects associated with prescription medicines. Licensed acupuncturists are also trained to recognize symptoms that indicate a need for a medical doctor or a specialist. A patient’s road to health is vastly shortened to the extent that she or he participates in his or her own recovery.

We give our patients as much knowledge as we can about their condition in terms of Chinese medical philosophy. Custom prepared Chinese herbal formulas are often prescribed as an important part of the treatment. We discuss the contribution of diet and other lifestyle choices to the patient’s condition, and support efforts towards gradual changes that will improve the patient’s health.

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What conditions can acupuncture treat?

In parts of the Far East, acupuncturists are so popular that they outnumber medical doctors. Acupuncture has been used to prevent illness, maintain wellness, and relieve pain. The World Health Organization has determined that acupuncture is an effective therapy for over 200 clinical conditions. For a list of the conditions we commonly treat, visit our Conditions Treated page. Please contact us if you do not see a specific condition listed.

Acupuncture also reduces stress and anxiety, and helps patients enter a deep state of relaxation, which enhances the healing process. Herbal medicine can increase the effectiveness of your acupuncture treatment and is often the primary treatment for chronic internal medical disorders.

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Will acupuncture interfere with my medication?

Acupuncture is recognized as effective by the FDA and the World Health Organization. When you start acupuncture treatments, you actually may find that your medication is working more efficiently since acupuncture has a tendency to remove blockages and balance the energetic pathways. Remember that it is never a good idea to alter dosages or stop taking medication without your doctor’s guidance.

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Can I receive acupuncture if I am pregnant?

Yes. Acupuncture can actually be a great benefit to pregnant women, but it does require adjustments to the way treatments are performed. Because there are some pressure points that are contraindicated during pregnancy, it is important to inform Susan if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.

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Do you treat children?

Yes, AHS is a family practice. Children typically respond much more quickly to acupuncture than adults. For young children, acupressure, Tui Na (massage), cupping, gentle herbal formulas or non-invasive or electro acupuncture is most often used. Susan has experience treating children as young as 18 months of age.

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Can I continue with other care I have been receiving?

Yes. Acupuncture will not interfere with other healthcare modalities. In fact, it may enhance other therapies such as; massage, chiropractic care, physical therapy and fertility care. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are frequently used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments and complications of HIV/AIDS medicines.

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Will I need herbs too?

A Chinese herbal formula may be recommended to enhance the benefits of your treatment plan. When appropriate, Susan will discuss the use of herbs with each person on a case-by-case basis.

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Can acupuncture prevent me from getting sick?

Acupuncture is wonderful for general well-being, stress-reduction and boosting immunity. Acupuncture and herbs can help strengthen you again. Once their problem has been resolved, some people choose to continue acupuncture for general well-being or to prevent seasonal flare-ups, such as allergies.

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About the Needles

Do the needles hurt when they are inserted?

This is the most common question asked about acupuncture because many people associate needles with pain. Acupuncture needles are very thin—almost like a strand of hair. They bear no resemblance to the needles used when receiving an injection (they are solid, not hollow like the needles used by doctors in surgery). In fact, we think the word ‘needles’ is a poor description for these tools; they are really healing filaments. They are simply tools to help you move through the process of healing and balance.

Even our most apprehensive patients discover that the treatment is virtually painless because acupuncture needles are extremely thin and flexible — approximately 16 acupuncture needles together equal the thickness of a pin. The needles are inserted very superficially, using a gentle technique. If, for some reason, you feel uncomfortable, the needles can be quickly adjusted. Most often, thanks to Susan’s expert technique, patients are surprised by the minimal feeling and their fears quickly dissolve.

The sensations people feel vary from warming to heavy to numb or tingling. The sensations usually dissipate quickly. Be comfortable and relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Many people even fall asleep during the treatment.

Susan tailors each session to meet the specific needs and sensitivities of the patient. Blankets, eye pillows, and music can be used to add to your comfort.

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Are the needles sterile or are they reused?

Acupuncture needles are FDA approved as medical devices; they are non-toxic, individually wrapped, totally sterile, and disposed of after one use. Susan and her staff follow a strict professional protocol to ensure the safety of all patients. Sterile, single-use needles are opened only when they are ready to be used. Treatment sites are swabbed with alcohol before insertion. Afterwards, each needle is disposed of in a medical waste container.

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Where are the needles placed on my body?

This depends on the condition being treated. Usually, the needles are placed on the extremities from your elbows down to your hands and from your knees down to your feet. Other areas (depending on your condition) might include the abdomen, back, and ears.

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What to Expect and How to Prepare

What can I expect during my first visit?

During your initial visit or consultation, Susan will talk to you at length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. She will want to obtain a complete picture of your medical history, treatment needs, and behaviors that may contribute to your condition. Combining all of this information will help her to place your concerns in a holistic context, at which point she will determine an appropriate treatment plan for you. This may include acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine.

The initial visit usually lasts 1.5 hours to 2 hours depending on your needs and the condition you want treated. The cost is $165. Call 757-628-8182 to set up an appointment. We will give you a password to download our new patient forms from this website to save time and prevent you from having to complete them in the office during your first visit.

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How long is a treatment?

After your first visit, subsequent treatments are typically about an hour; they can be as short as 30 minutes depending on your condition.

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How often and how many treatments will I need?

There is no set formula—the number of follow up treatments is something you will discuss with Susan as part of your overall Care Plan and will depend on the nature of the complaint, its severity, and how long it has been present. Your treatment course will be determined during the consultation and reassessed after each visit. Many conditions may be alleviated rapidly. Some chronic conditions will be relieved only with slow, steady progress and patience.

Initially, treatments are done frequently: perhaps 1-3 times per week or bi-weekly. Once your condition has been controlled and you are symptom-free, the treatments become less frequent.
Our treatment philosophy is to support you in achieving your own health goals as quickly as possible. Since we believe that our bodies can heal themselves if given the chance, we do not believe in creating a co-dependant relationship with patients where treatments are unnecessarily prolonged.

Chinese and Western medicine compliment each other and can be integrated to offer optimal health care. In cases where medical circumstances can be dealt with more effectively by Western medicine, your acupuncturist will recommend that you contact a physician.

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What should I do to prepare for my appointment?

  • Eat a light meal an hour or two before your appointment. You want your body to have energy to work with.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes that can be easily rolled above your elbows and knees.
  • Bring a list of medications you are taking.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activity, drink alcohol, smoke excessively, or ingest heavy meals before or after your treatment. This will allow the body to adjust to the effects of the acupuncture.
  • If this is your first visit, please contact us so that we can help you print out and complete the appropriate Download Forms prior to your appointment time. If you need them mailed to you, we can do so.

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Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?

Yes: RELAX! And, if you have any questions, ask them so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment.

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What will I feel after the treatment?

People often feel rejuvenated and relaxed with an alleviation of their symptoms. Other bodily functions that weren’t part of your chief complaint may also improve. For example, you might find that you are sleeping better, your anxiety is reduced, your digestion is improved, or that your stress level is lowered. Returning to work after a treatment is not a problem.

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Scheduling Appointments and Paying for Treatments

What are your hours?

Our regular office hours are Monday through Thursday 9am – 5:20pm. One Friday a month 8am – 11:40 am (but they are subject to change). Office visits are by appointment only. Evening and early morning hours can be arranged for those unable to come during our regular operating hours. Please call (757) 628-8182 or email to schedule your appointment. We are closed Saturdays and Sunday.

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How do I get to your office?

AHS is located in Norfolk, Virginia. Click here for a map. Parking is behind the building and can be accessed via Colonial Ave. There are three parking spaces specifically marked for Acupuncture & Herbal Solutions patients.

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Is acupuncture covered by my insurance?

Acupuncture is one of the complementary/alternative medicine therapies commonly covered by insurance. However, you should check with your insurer before you start treatment to see whether acupuncture will be covered for your condition and, if so, to what extent. Some insurance plans require preauthorization for acupuncture.

AHS requires payment from you at the time of treatment. We do not bill your insurance carrier or collect from them. We will gladly assist you in completing the necessary paperwork to submit claims to your insurance carrier for reimbursement.

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Is acupuncture tax deductible?

Yes, acupuncture is tax deductible. Please ask your tax professional for more information.

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How much will acupuncture cost?

Your initial office visit costs $165 and will last about an hour and a half. Follow up treatments are $95 depending upon the complexity of the treatment and lasting an hour. $25 discount for any family members initial appointment. $125 initial consultation for a minor (17 years of age and under) $75 follow up visit for a minor. Add $45 for cupping, gua-sha, moxa.

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What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, cash and checks.

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What is your cancellation policy?

Please give at least notice of cancellation at least 24 business hours in advance to avoid being charged for the session.

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If you still have questions…

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us by phone at
(757) 628-8182 or email us at We welcome your questions and we are happy to discuss your specific condition and how acupuncture and herbal therapies can help.

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