Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most widely practiced forms of medicine in the world. Acupuncture is concerned with the whole person and its beneficial effects are felt on all levels of the body.  Acupuncture is especially helpful for allergies, pain relief, immune support, and balancing mind, body and spirit, whether in daily life, seasonally or in times of special need.

Acupuncture uses very fine needles that are inserted into specific points on the body. These points lie along channels of the body that allow for the free flow of energy. When these channels are blocked, imbalance occurs and illness can result. Acupuncture attempts to clear these channels so energy can flow freely and health can be restored.

Known primarily in the West as a safe and effective method for the treatment of pain. The application of acupuncture is much broader. It can be successfully used to help alleviate disorders of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, or autonomic systems, as well as treat musculoskeletal and psycho-emotional conditions.


What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical Acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a physician trained and licensed in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Medical acupuncture is one of the oldest and most effective healing practices in the world updated with modern, medical and integrative perspectives. Physicians so trained can take advantage of either or both approaches to provide effective and quality care to patients. Since acupuncture also has its roots in preventive care, there is an opportunity to address problems in their very early stages with the hope of preventing full-blown disease.

Dr. Renée S. Melfi is a triple-boarded medical sub-specialist (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine, and Integrative Holistic Medicine) and is now certified in New York in Medical Acupuncture. She completed the Helms Medical Acupuncture for Physicians Course. The Helms Medical Institute (HMI) sponsors the oldest ongoing Medical Acupuncture training program in North America.  Ninety percent of physicians practicing acupuncture in the United States have been trained through the Helms Medical Institute. The Helms program emphasizes the French energetic acupuncture system, the five phases approach and neuroanatomical acupuncture. Dr. Melfi completed the HMI Pain Management Pathway. This pathway addresses the pain of acute trauma, musculoskeletal problems such as myofascial pain and muscle tension, headaches, pain of spine lesions, peripheral neuropathies, and joint pain. As such, in addition to acupuncture, Dr. Melfi has special training in:

  • Chinese scalp acupuncture
  • Ear acupuncture
  • Electric stimulation
  • Cupping
  • Gua Sha(scraping)
  • Scar deactivation
  • Myofascial Trigger Point deactivation
  • Moxibustion
  • Herbal topicals
  • Homeopathic topicals


How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture needles inserted at the correct meridian points unblock the obstructions and reestablish a healthy flow to tissues and organs, potentially correcting digestion, absorption and energy production in the body.

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to nourish the tissues and organs. An obstruction in these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body’s, own internal regulating system.
By stimulating the immune system acupuncture can help prevent illness. It can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine (as in the allopathic treatment of disease) or as a treatment modality on its own.

While you lie relaxed and quiet, Acupuncture needles focus your body’s healing energy where it is most needed. This gentle yet powerful procedure helps your body return to homeostasis; a correct balance between good health and vitality.


What conditions can it treat?

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Either on its own or in combination with other treatments, it can promote health and well being, prevent illness and treat a variety of medical conditions.

Acupuncture is effective for (but not limited to) both acute and chronic conditions:

  • Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Neck Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: joint pain, tendonitis, bursitis
  • Sports injuries
  • Neurological disorders: neuritis, neuropathy, brain injury
  • Fertility
  • Weight loss
  • Addiction
  • Digestive disorders: Spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea and gastritis
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma and recurrent chest infections
  • Urinary, menstrual and reproductive problems
  • Emotional conditions: stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, PTSD


How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, 1 to 2 treatments per week for several months may suffice. For acute problems, fewer visits are typically required. One may seek seasonal visits for optimal health and wellness.


Are there side effects?

For most people the only effect of treatment is a sense of well being and often a cessation of troubling symptoms.  As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days or general changes in appetite, sleep, emotions, bowel or urination patterns may occur. These should not be cause for concern, as they are indications that the acupuncture is assisting the body in starting to heal. 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. Melfi immediately so she can adjust or withdraw the needles. Also let her know if you feel an increasing amount of pain or any burning sensation at a particular needle site.


Do the needles hurt?

Most people feel minimal pain or discomfort as the needles are inserted. Acupuncture needles are hair thin, solid, and made from stainless steel with a smooth point. 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 10-20 minutes) then the needles are removed.


Are the needles sterile?

The needles are pre-packaged, sterile, single use needles that are disposed of after use.


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

A Physician Acupuncturist is one who has acquired specialized knowledge and experience related to the integration of acupuncture within contemporary biomedical practice. Because physicians already have had education and training in anatomy, physiology, neurology, and all the other basic and clinical sciences involved in medical diagnosis and treatment, training in acupuncture can be accomplished following a different training pathway for them to master acupuncture as a special medical modality.

Physicians who choose to train in Medical Acupuncture have already completed a minimum of 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and the appropriate medical internship and residency for their particular medical or surgical specialty.  Depending on the medical specialty in which each of these physicians has trained, they have had between 7 and 12 years of medical training post-college before they are considered eligible for admission to a Medical Acupuncture training program. The Helms Medical Institute 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 for board certification through the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.

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 no comparison in this regard to a non-physician’s grasp in these areas that are highly pertinent to understanding and managing health problems.  In addition, physicians who practice Medical Acupuncture are part of the local medical community.  They have relationships with other physicians practicing within the community.

Source of information:



Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to change into a gown if necessary.
Do not eat an unusually large meal immediately before or after your treatment.
Refrain from overexertion, working out, drugs or alcohol for 6 hours after the treatment.
Plan your activities so that after the treatment you can get some rest. This is especially important for the first few visits.

Continue to take any prescription medicines as directed by your regular doctor.
Remember to keep good mental or written notes of what your response is to the treatment. This is important for your doctor to know so that the follow-up treatments can be designed to best help you and your problem.

You may feel profoundly relaxed after your treatment. Feel free to bring someone with you to drive you home.

You may bring water with you for after your treatment, and drink plenty of water the rest of the day after your treatment.


Acupuncture office policies and guidelines:

Renée S. Melfi, M.D., P.C. acupuncture practice does not accept insurance. Full payment is required at the time of service. We will, upon request, provide you with a superbill, which you may then submit to your insurance company.

Dr. Melfi is a triple-boarded medical sub-specialist with 15 years of higher education and medical training in addition to her certification in Medical Acupuncture. As such, our prices may be higher than those of a Licensed Acupuncturist.



A focused program that may include a brief history, formulation of treatment plan, and acupuncture treatments.

  • Studies show that acupuncture is more effective in a group.
  • Treatments will be in a large room, sitting in recliners.
  • You will complete a brief questionnaire.
  • Needles may be placed in the ears, scalp, forearms/hands, legs/feet.
  • Treatment will last for 30 minutes once needles are in place.
  • Billing tickets are not produced but you will be given a receipt.
  • $65, direct pay. Insurance is not accepted.



Acupuncture treatment is available under Workers’ Compensation Guidelines and NYS No-Fault insurance here at Regenerative Spine & Musculoskeletal Medicine. Please talk with your provider for further information.

Please print the following paperwork and have it completed prior to your appointment, or plan to arrive early to complete your paperwork. If you don’t have your forms completed prior to arrival, it will take time from your session and treatment with Dr. Melfi.