Medical Acupuncture Richmond

David S. Groopman, M.D.
Board Certified Internal Medicine and Medical Acupuncture

8639 Mayland Drive, Suite #106-B
Richmond, Virginia  23294
Telephone: (804) 755-7800  Fax: (804) 755-6120
Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a way to encourage the body to promote natural healing and improved function.  This is done
by inserting tiny needles at very precise acupuncture points and applying heat and/or electrical stimulation.  Needling acupuncture points may stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins and inflammatory mediators in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals can change the experience of pain or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal healing and regulating system.  

Typical treatment - What To Expect  During your first visit, you will spend time discussing your medical history and symptoms.  During this visit, you will also receive your first acupuncture treatment. Most people feel minimal pain or discomfort as the needles are inserted. When the needle reaches the correct stimulus point, you should feel some cramping, heaviness or tingling. This discomfort is mild and should subside within a minute or so.  Once the needles have been inserted they may be manually or electrically stimulated. You will then be left to rest for a short period with the needles in place (approximately 15-20 minutes) then the needles are removed. 

How Should I Prepare For a Treatment? A lengthy medical history questionnaire will be mailed to you prior to your first appointment.  Please complete this questionnaire providing any/all information about your condition.  If you have recent lab test results, x-ray/MRI reports, etc. please bring them with you to your first appointment along with a list of any medications or supplements you are taking.  We recommend that you eat a light meal 2 or more hours prior to treatment. Plan your activities so that you can rest after a treatment or at least avoid working at top performance for the rest of the day. 

Are The Needles Sterile?
The needles are pre-packaged, sterile, single use needles that are disposed of after use.  

Are There Any Side Effects? For most people the only effect of treatment is a sense of well being and often a cessation of troubling symptoms.  Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination pattern, or emotional state may be triggered. These effects are usually temporary and disappear within a few days.  A very small percentage of people may experience dizziness, nausea, sweating or faintness during an acupuncture treatment.  If any of these symptoms occur, you should inform Dr. Groopman immediately so he can adjust or withdraw the needles. Also let him know if you feel an increasing amount of pain or any burning sensation at a particular needle site.

How many treatments will be necessary? The number of treatments varies according to the complaint and individual responsiveness to acupuncture.  For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments per week for several months may be recommended. For acute conditions, only one to four treatments may be needed.

Conditions That Are Commonly Treated With Acupuncture (partial list):
Chemotherapy Side Effects 
Neck Pain
Shoulder Pain
Knee Pain
Joint Inflammation
Low Back Pain / Sciatica
Constipation / Diarrhea
Sinus Infections / Sinusitis
Headaches (migraine, tension, cluster)
Menopausal / Peri-menopausal Symptoms
Kidney Stones
Interstitial Cystitis
Sprains / Strains

$285.00  -  New Patient - Initial Evaluation and Acupuncture Treatment (2 hours)
$160.00  -  Established Patient - Acupuncture Treatment (45-60 minutes)             

Full payment is due at the time of service.  We accept cash and checks.  We do not accept debit/credit cards. 

Most insurance plans do not cover acupuncture services.  Please check with your insurance carrier to determine whether or not your policy offers coverage.  If you do have coverage, we will provide you with an itemized receipt that you may submit to your insurance plan. 

Medicare does not cover acupuncture for any medical condition.  For this reason, Dr. Groopman has chosen to opt-out of the Medicare program.  We do not provide itemized receipts to Medicare beneficiaries for submittal to Medicare or secondary insurance plans.  We will provide a simple payment receipt.  

Acupuncture Practitioners:
Why Should I Choose a Physician Instead of a Non-Physician?

There is a tremendous amount of misleading information pertaining to the training and board certification requirements for physicians who practice medical acupuncture.  According to the inaccurate information provided on many websites and in publications dedicated to non-physician acupuncturists, the reader is led 
to believe that the training and board certification requirements for physicians amounts to little more than 
a weekend seminar.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

For purposes of this discussion, I will refer to the training requirements of the Helms Medical Institute (HMI)
as it is the premier medical acupuncture training program for physicians in the United States.  

First of all, it is important to keep in mind that physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who choose to train in medical acupuncture have already completed a minimum of 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school as well as the appropriate medical internship and residency for their particular medical or surgical specialty.  So, depending on the medical specialty in which each of these physicians has trained, they have had between 
7 and 12 years of medical training after college before they are considered eligible for admission to the medical acupuncture training program at HMI.  

The HMI program consists of 300 hours of study and hands-on training.  Once the initial 300 hour course is complete, the physician must then practice medical acupuncture in a clinical setting for a minimum of 2 years and render a minimum of 500 acupuncture treatments before being eligible to take the board certification exam through the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.  In summary, a physician who obtains board certification in medical acupuncture has had a minimum of 3 years of training in the specialty of medical acupuncture in addition to having already completed 7 to 12 years of formal medical training after college.

A physician practicing medical acupuncture has a level of knowledge and sophistication regarding pharmacology (medications), medical and surgical procedures, laboratory testing and other diagnostic modalities such as CT scan and MRI that can only result from a full, formal medical training.  There is simply no comparison in this regard to a non-physician’s grasp in these areas which are highly pertinent to understanding and managing health problems.  Although medical acupuncture certainly embraces the knowledge base of traditional Chinese medicine, it goes far beyond this in the modalities it offers.  For degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, neurological problems and chronic pain issues, the western (neuro-anatomic) approach in medical acupuncture has much more power than traditional Chinese medicine alone.  

In addition, physicians who practice medical acupuncture are part of the local medical community.  They have relationships with other physicians practicing within the community.  These physician to physician relationships result in timely appointment scheduling and evaluation by other specialists when needed.  Also, physicians practicing medical acupuncture have the authority to prescribe medication and order lab tests and imaging studies when appropriate.