Frequently Asked Questions
What is integrative East-West medicine?
Our clinic is truly integrative. Our US-trained and board-certified physicians also have training and experience in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The clinical team also includes a non-physician expert clinical extenders trained in TCM. Working together, the clinical team applies our patient-centered approach to develop individualized treatment plans to meet each patient’s needs. See the below link for the history of the clinic and to learn more about the overarching mission.
- What is the overall treatment approach?
- Who is on the treatment team?
- Are you just an acupuncture clinic?
You will be evaluated by board-certified internists/family practitioners/geriatricians with varying levels of background in traditional Chinese medicine. Integrative East-West medicine treatment plans often include a mix of lifestyle coaching and diet recommendations, medication adjustments, guidance in clinical management, acupuncture, trigger point injections and bodywork. This low-tech, low-cost and high-touch approach is delivered by a team that may include dual-trained physicians and clinician extenders working in concert and backed up by dedicated and motivated administrative and clinical staff. For a quick overview of the first office visit at CEWM, click to view a video introduction of our clinic on ExploreIM from our original and prior clinic location. Most importantly, you, the patient, are the most essential piece of the treatment. We strongly emphasize self-help and active participation in rehabilitation, recovery and optimization of lifestyle and diet to maintain and improve your health.
Who is in the treatment team?
You will see a physician at every visit. In many cases, a clinician extender (typically an acupuncturist or manual therapist) might also be involved in your care. In the state of California, becoming a licensed acupuncturist requires the completion of a four-year master's degree program in TCM, or graduation from a TCM school in China. An acupuncturist must also pass a stringent state board examination. All acupuncturists at the Center for East-West Medicine are board certified, and trained in both TCM and modern western medicine.
Are you just an acupuncture clinic?
No, we are not the same as an acupuncture clinic. An acupuncture clinic in your community is typically run by acupuncturists or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners (commonly with a LAc after their name). Patients seek their care typically for acupuncture, herbs, other treatments for various symptoms, or even just for promotion of wellbeing. Patients may pay cash or use insurance to receive treatment, often on the same day.
Our clinic is a physician-lead consultative clinic within the department of medicine at UCLA. Patients are commonly referred by primary care providers and specialists, just like referring to other specialties like rheumatology, endocrinology for e.g. The initial evaluation involves an extensive history and physical examination performed by a board-certified physician (MD). A care plan will be created together, and may include acupuncture, trigger point injections, bodywork and/or medical management/coordination.
Acupuncture and Trigger Point
- How effective is acupuncture?
- What can acupuncture treat?
- Will the needles hurt and what are common adverse effects?
- How safe are the needles?
- What is a trigger point injection?
Acupuncture is an effective treatment method used by millions of people in China, Korea, Japan, and other countries. Acupuncture encompasses a host of therapeutic and healing techniques that have been practiced for more than 2000 years. Though many different techniques and styles are in used in the West, scientific evidence supporting acupuncture’s effectiveness is variable. This is partly due to the difficulty in studying a dynamic, patient-centered system with the current research methodology that is dictated by the reductionist standards of scientific inquiry. Despite these challenges, a growing body of research supports acupuncture for a variety of conditions including but not limited to, chronic headaches, knee osteoarthritis, chronic pain, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), some musculoskeletal injuries. (http://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/esp/acupuncture.pdf)
What can acupuncture treat?
Hundreds of conditions are noted in traditional and modern acupuncture texts, and acupuncture practitioners claim a great diversity of conditions respond to acupuncture. But, modern clinical research has only investigated the efficacy of acupuncture in treating a limited number of conditions. Studies have shown acupuncture therapy to be effective in treating:
- Chronic pain: low back, neck, and facial pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, myofacial pain, joint pain, arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis.
- Acute pain: dental pain, post-surgical pain.
- Urological problems: urgent or frequent urination.
- Gynecological problems: menstrual pain, menstrual irregularity, menopausal symptoms, pelvic pain
Will the needles hurt and what are common adverse effects?
Generally not and typically less than one would imagine. Acupuncture needles are significantly thinner, smaller, and not hollow as compared to hypodermic needles used for blood draws and immunizations. Different sizes of needles are used depending on what acupuncture points are chosen, but the needles are all about as thick as a human hair. If there is discomfort, the degree of pain you might experience will depend on how sensitive you are to the acupuncture needles, and what acupuncture points are used for your treatment (some points are more sensitive than others). Although uncommon, an area needled may have some redness, bruising, minor bleeding, or swelling. In rare cases, individuals being treated can faint or undergo muscle spasm.
How safe are the needles?
What is a trigger point injection?
Another needle-based treatment that is commonly used in combination with acupuncture in our clinic is trigger point injection. Trigger point injections are a treatment technique developed since the 1920s and became popularized by Janet Travell. Travell was selected as the White House physician by John F. Kennedy to treat his chronic musculoskeletal pain. There a considerable body of basic science and clinical evidence to support its use to treat myofascial pain and many other pain and non-pain syndrome (https://books.google.com/books?id=63OYdoNBNC8C&hl=en).
The procedure includes a slightly larger needle compared to acupuncture, which is used to deactivate trigger points and address muscle tension and spasm. A small amount of local anesthetic, we commonly use lidocaine, is injected. We do not inject corticosteroids. You may experience soreness, bruising, or minor inflammation in the area treated. In very rare instances, an allergic reaction might occur (to the lidocaine), which may result in inflammation, swelling, or rash. To learn more about trigger points injections: http://www.medicinenet.com/trigger_point_injection/article.htm
- Where should I park my car when I go to the clinic?
- How long should I allow for my first visit?
- What can I do if I am late to my scheduled appointment time?
Where should I park my car when I go to the clinic?
Santa Monica: Parking is available on-site at the Parkside Medical Plaza, which is run privately by Standard Parking. Unfortunately, the clinic does not validate your parking during your visit. There is also street meter parking around the clinic site.
Westlake Village: Parking is available on-site at Westlake Medical Plaza, and it is free.
How long should I allow for my first visit?
This depends on the complexity of your case and whether treatment is provided on your first visit. It is best to not make an appointment right afterwards and have a minimum of two hours dedicated to allow for parking, checking-in, forms, rooming, evaluation, possible treatment and checkout.
What can I do if I am late for my scheduled appointment?
Please arrive 15 - 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment to allow for check-in, obtaining vital signs and to review your medications.
We strive to exceed the expectations of all our patients, and we are committed to providing you with the best care possible and by providing appointment times that best fit your schedule. In our efforts to minimize your wait time, our office has a late arrival policy.
Please be aware that if you arrive late for your scheduled appointment, you may wait to be moved to the next open appointment slot or worked-in between other patients, as time allows.
Your visit may be brief in nature, due to the need to work you in between other scheduled patients.
For those with appointments in which several team members see you here at CEWM, there may only be enough time for you to be seen by the attending physician
Insurance and Cost
What will my insurance cover?
HMO patients: a referral from your primary care physician is required.
PPO patients: a referral is not required, but insurance plans vary in the services covered.
What are the fees for treatment?
For the billing information prior to your visit please visit: https://cewm.med.ucla.edu/clinic/billing-information/
For those with insurance coverage for acupuncture, insurance will be billed first; however, if insurance does not pay, the patient will be responsible for the fee. The cost of acupuncture is subject to change.
Please call the clinic at (310) 998-9118 for more information.