Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

Tell Me About Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the therapies included in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is used extensively by one quarter of the world’s population and it has been used for over 3000 years. Its popularity is now growing rapidly in the Western world. This ancient art of healing 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.
What are the principles of acupuncture or how does it work?
It is believed that there is an ethereal 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.
Are there any side effects to acupuncture?
One of the great advantages of acupuncture is that it has no unpleasant side effects and does not interfere with any medical treatments you may already be receiving. Occasionally, patients may get a small local bruise or feel light-headed for a few moments.
What criteria should one use in choosing an acupuncturist?

First of all, you need to see someone you feel an affinity with, who listens to you and makes you feel comfortable. Feeling you can trust someone is very personal and important. Take the time to seek out the right practitioner. It’s an important relationship.

Ask where the practitioner/acupuncturist trained, how long the training was, how long he or she has been in practice, and what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment. Ensure that your practitioner is state licensed:

Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated healthcare profession. For over 20 years, the Medical Board of North Carolina has been licensing acupuncturists. At present, one is allowed to practice only after successfully completing four years of training at an approved college of Oriental Medicine, and passing a rigorous written and practical exam given by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). The title “Licensed Acupuncturist” or “L.Ac.” means that these criteria have been met. Always look for a copy of the license, which should be clearly displayed in the practitioner’s office. In states that do not currently require licensing, patients should ask their practitioner if they are certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Acupuncturists who have passed this exam are entitled to add Dipl Ac. (Diplomate of Acupuncture) after their name.

How widely is acupuncture used in the United States?
In the past few decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States. Acupuncture is practiced by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners for relief or prevention of pain and for various health conditions. 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 US adults have used acupuncture.
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.
Is acupuncture painful?
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain when the needles are inserted. The needles are metallic, solid, and as thin as a human hair. Some people are energized by their treatment, while others feel relaxed.

Is Acupuncture Right For Me?

How is Oriental medicine compatible with Western medicine?

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

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 their recovery.

We give our patients as much knowledge as we can about their condition in terms of Chinese medical philosophy. Individual herbal remedies 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.

Will acupuncture interfere with my medication?

The short answer is no. You may find, however, that your medication is working more efficiently since acupuncture has a tendency to remove blockages and balance the energetic pathways. If your medication is dosage sensitive, make sure you consult with your doctor to monitor your dosages. Western pharmaceuticals are potent. In many cases you need to reduce dosages gradually to avoid unpleasant reactions. But remember, that it is never a good idea to alter dosages or stop taking medication without your doctor’s guidance.

Do you treat children?
Yes, Acupuncture Associates in Wilmington is a family practice. Children typically respond much more quickly to acupuncture than adults. For young children, acupressure, Tui Na (massage), or laser acupuncture is most often used. We have experience treating children as young as 18 months of age.
Will I need herbs too?

A Chinese herbal formula may be recommended as a benefit to your treatment plan. The use of herbs may enhance the healing process as a daily treatment. Please refer to our How We Treat page for more information on this subject.

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, relieve pain and as an anesthetic. 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.

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.

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 Robert if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.

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.

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. Some people, once their problem has resolved, come seasonally to prevent allergy flare-ups, for example.

Schedule Your Appointment Today!

Take control of your health. Schedule your appointment with Robert today and experience the power that acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and other therapeutic methods can be as part of the healing process. Click the button to fill out our schedule request form or call us at 910.798.8181 to setup your appointment now.

Tell Me 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). The end of an acupuncture needle is smooth and rounded. Acupuncture needles are designed to not cut the skin. Instead, when an acupuncture needle is inserted, the round edge pushes the tissue aside without cutting it. It’s as if these ultra-thin needles can glide through the spaces between the individual cells of the body.

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.

After insertion, the practitioner will bring the needle to the appropriate depth. They are inserted very superficially, using a gentle technique. You will then feel a very unique sensation that varies according to the individual.

Often people describe their sensations as warming, heavy, numb or tingling. This sensation usually dissipates quickly. Be comfortable and relax while the needles are in place. The more you can relax during an acupuncture treatment, the better the results. Some people even fall asleep during the treatment.

A licensed acupuncturist has had thorough training on the safe implementation of needles. They can be quickly adjusted in the unlikely event of you feeling uncomfortable during the needle insertion process. (Please do not hesitate to tell us if you feel uncomfortable.) Most often, when patients first feel the sensation of needles, their fears dissolve. Doctor Robert has a very gentle technique.

In addition, Doctor Robert 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. It also might help if instead of thinking of them as needles, you view them as healing filaments. They are simply tools to help you move through the process of healing and balance.

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 common areas include the abdomen, back, and ears.

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. Both Robert and his 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. Treatments sites are swabbed with alcohol before insertion. Afterwards, each needle is disposed of in a medical waste container.

Tell Me What to Expect and How to Prepare

What can I expect during my first visit?

During your initial visit or consultation, Robert will talk to you at length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. He 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 him to place your concerns in a holistic context, at which point he will determine an appropriate treatment plan for you. This may include acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine.

The initial visit usually lasts 2 hours depending on your needs and the condition you want treated. Call 910.798.8181 to receive a new patient welcome package including the intake forms, or download the forms by clicking here to save time and prevent you from having to complete them in the office during your first visit.

How often and how many treatments will I need?

There is no set formula—the number of treatments 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 periodically. Many conditions may be alleviated rapidly. Some chronic conditions will be relieved only with slow, steady progress.

Initially, treatments are done frequently: once a week. 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.

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.
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.
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, we will mail a packet of forms that you should complete and bring with you to your initial appointment.
  • To respect other patients sensitivities, we ask that you refrain from wearing perfume or lotions.
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.

Scheduling Appointments and Paying for Treatments

What are your hours?

Office visits are by appointment only. Wednesday is typically for new patients and can last between two and four hours. The first time slot for a follow up appointment is 9am and the last appointment is at 4pm.

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.

Acupuncture Associates in Wilmington, NC requires payment from you at the time of treatment. We do not bill your insurance carrier or collect from them.

How much will acupuncture cost?

Your first office visit will be $195 and will last about two hours. Additional visits will be a flat $145 per office visit and will last about 50 minutes.

What is your cancellation policy?
Our business is appointment-based, therefore we kindly request that should you need to change or cancel an appointment that you notify our office 48 hours prior to your appointment. By doing so, you allow us the opportunity to schedule another patient during your time. Any appointments (new or subsequent) cancelled within the 48 hours, prevents us from scheduling another patient and will result in a cancellation charge of the normal office fee.
How do I get to Acupuncture Associates?

Acupuncture Associates is located at:

4427 Junction Park Drive
Wilmington, NC 28412
Click for directions

Is acupuncture tax deductible?
Yes, acupuncture is tax deductible. Please ask your tax professional for more information.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, cash and personal checks.

What if I still have questions?

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us by phone at 910.798.8181 or email us at We welcome your questions and are happy to discuss your specific conditions and how acupuncture and herbal therapies can help.


What Our Patients Are Saying

My first acupuncture experience was with Dr. Robert about a month and a half ago. I was a little nervous and had no idea what to expect. Dr Robert was very comforting and professional. He spent over an hour with me just getting to know me, what my symptoms were and what I was hoping to get out of acupuncture, then spent another hour on my first treatment. Every visit he speaks with me about how I am doing, what is going on in my life, how I am feeling, have I noticed any changes… I have been amazed with the results I have seen since my first treatment! I came in to deal with infertility but the treatments have been helping with so much more. My anxiety is down, I am sleeping better, I have been able to come off my antidepressants and I am just happier all around. I feel more balanced. Dr Robert truly is doing what he was put on this earth to do. He is so knowledgable and has amazing intuition. His office is the most relaxing place on earth! I would and have recommend him to everyone!

Katie Gattis


I specifically sought out Dr. Robert for his training in Asia and his ability to do acupuncture based in an Eastern way of thinking. There are so many aspects of our daily lives that leave us sick with symptoms that we turn to medication to fix. These treatments help and alleviate many of the symptoms we have. Yet, the mind-body connection that acupuncture touches upon, used in conjunction with western medicine, sets us upon a path to heal the whole body, our whole self. Dr. Robert is incredibly thorough in the initial appointment to assure he is treating you specifically – not just an ailment. As treatments continue the conversation and understanding of what is to be achieved continued seamlessly. I have already recommended him to friends and will continue to do so. If you are interested in starting or continuing acupuncture, Dr. Robert is who you should be working with.

Wendy Yamano


Schedule Your Appointment Now!

Robert has over 40 years of experience treating and healing with traditional Chinese medicine. If you're experiencing pain and are in need of relief, schedule your appointment now. Robert will listen to your story, identify problem areas, and construct a treatment plan that will help you find relief.

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