expert type icon EXPERT

Carolyn Shannon Sullivan, LIC. AC

Acupuncturist

Carolyn Sullivan is an acupuncturist practicing in Stoughton, MA and Randolph, MA. Dr. Sullivan evaluates and treats patients based on the concepts of oriental medicine. Acupuncturists complete their evaluations by getting a detailed patient history and looking at the tongue and pulse to formulate a diagnosis. Then, they place very fine acupuncture needles into specific points on the body. Stimulating these points eliciting qi flow is how Dr. Sullivan treats the patient's condition. There are other methods of treatment if needles are not preferred. Many of the body's systems respond to acupuncture, and it can treat physical pain as well as emotional stress.
15 years Experience
Carolyn Shannon Sullivan, LIC. AC
  • Randolph and Stoughton, MA
  • New England School of Acupunct
  • Accepting new patients

How many acupuncture sessions does it take to see results?

That answer can vary from person to person. A lot of it depends on you and what you do to take care of yourself. Certain foods have shown to cause headaches in those susceptible, READ MORE
That answer can vary from person to person. A lot of it depends on you and what you do to take care of yourself. Certain foods have shown to cause headaches in those susceptible, such as coffee, chocolate, gluten (which is in everything). Have you been tested for a gluten allergy? It takes real commitment to stick to a gluten-free diet. You may have a postural issue or need to see a chiropractor for an adjustment. Oftentimes, patients have claimed to feel much better after seeing a chiropractor.

Secondarily, if the shoes you are wearing do not have proper support, it could affect your spine and lead to headaches. Are you getting restful and enough sleep? Is your mattress firm enough? Do you need a more supportive pillow? I use a cervical pillow to keep my neck in the proper position and if I go away and do not bring it with me, my neck feels it and I usually get a headache. Stress is a big factor in headaches. Even those who are not aware of feeling stressed can experience headaches. Doing relaxing exercises such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc can be of great help. Including daily stretching in your routine may prove to be the best bet if the aforementioned suggestions are not your thing.

All that being said, there is no set formula to determine how many sessions it would take before you see results. Acupuncture has be known to be effective but along with a patient's willingness to make some lifestyle changes. Diet, proper hydration, exercise, stress reduction, proper (REM) sleep are just a few of the suggestions I would make before you see an acupuncturist. The power to cure them may be entirely in your hands and you may not need acupuncture.Try some or all of these suggestions for two weeks, that just may do the trick!. Good luck.

What should I do after acupuncture?

I realize this response is well after the time in which you were getting your first acupuncture session. I hope it worked out well for you. Nonetheless, I will put in my two cents! My READ MORE
I realize this response is well after the time in which you were getting your first acupuncture session. I hope it worked out well for you. Nonetheless, I will put in my two cents!

My suggestion would be not plan anything too elaborate after treatment. Some people feel energetic or in less pain after treatment and then they do too much and think that the treatment didn't work. It's important to relax after treatment. Do some stretching, meditation, a hot relaxing shower maybe. It may take time to feel the effects of acupuncture and that really can't be experienced if you are rushing here and there. Sometimes, patients say they didn't feel anything after treatment, but then report of better sleep, less pain or shorter periods of pain, feeling at ease, and so on. These are all common with acupuncture and pain relief is not always immediate. I ask my patients to kind of mentally scan their bodies to see if they feel any subtle changes to try to learn to listen to what the body is saying. Has the pain changed in location or quality? Has it become of a shorter duration when it does come on? Does it wake you from sleep? Of course, pain is not the only reason people seek out acupuncture, but other changes may be noticed if you learn to become more self aware.

I hope you had an enjoyable experience!!!

Does acupuncture help with spinal stenosis?

There is no guarantee with any type of medicine. A lot of factors are at play. Such as previous medical history of falls, MVA's etc, extent of your condition, other co morbid READ MORE
There is no guarantee with any type of medicine. A lot of factors are at play. Such as previous medical history of falls, MVA's etc, extent of your condition, other co morbid conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and so on. Have you sought treatment for your stenosis in the past? If so, what type and for how long? What is your activity level like? Do you sit in a chair/couch that supports your spine properly? Proper footwear is essential in its support of the spine. How old is your mattress and is it supportive? All of these things can effect the efficiency of treatment outcomes.
But in my own personal experience, I have had good results with patients. But again, it depends upon other factors, such as frequency of visits, how many treatments you get before making an accurate assessment of how you do overall with acupuncture. Making adjustments where needed on proper footwear, swapping out your mattress if it is too old or not supportive, postural changes, exercise, and so on. Good luck!!!!

How many sessions of acupuncture are effective?

It really is on a case by case basis. Some people start to see results right away, some experience relief after many treatments. Lifestyle factors such as poor sleep, sleeping READ MORE
It really is on a case by case basis. Some people start to see results right away, some experience relief after many treatments. Lifestyle factors such as poor sleep, sleeping on an old or non supportive mattress, food allergies or poor eating habits and so on can be the cause or worsen migraine pain. Firstly, you should speak to your doctor about possibly getting an MRI to rule out anything more serious. If you are on any medications, one of them may have migraines listed as a side effect or it could be a bad interaction between meds. I personally have had mixed results with effectiveness. If patients are not willing to make lifestyle changes or they don't come to see me regularly or long enough to give it an honest shot (6-8 treatments) then that could explain why they did not see a change. In the meantime, I would make several suggestions. Limit or cut out known allergy producing foods, such as gluten. Lose weight if that is an issue. Exercise and STRETCH daily. Oftentimes, tight neck or traps can pull on the head and cause headaches. Drink plenty of water....just plain water....room temperature is best, as cold water can trigger migraines. Get more sleep, restful sleep and consistent sleep. A cervical pillow can help place your spine in the correct position for optimal sleep. I hope this was helpful. Good luck!!!

Is acupuncture a placebo?

Absolutely not. Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years. Much longer than traditional medicine, and with proven results. That being said, not everyone responds READ MORE
Absolutely not. Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years. Much longer than traditional medicine, and with proven results. That being said, not everyone responds to acupuncture, but for a variety of reasons....Ineffective diagnosis and treatment, patient non-compliance, addiction, poor lifestyle choices, co-morbid health conditions such as heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune issues and so on. I tell my patients give acupuncture a try for a minimum of 6-8 visits . That should give you a good idea whether or not acupuncture will work for you. It is not meant to trick you into thinking you are better. Most of my patients get better to one degree or another. If I don't see any changes at all after 6-8 treatments, I cut my patients loose and refer them out to someone else. Give acupuncture a shot and try to remain open minded....you will be glad you did!!!

Is acupuncture good for sciatica?

I have had good results treating sciatic pain. But it is important to rule out anything more serious. Have you had an MRI? They can show more clearly if there is anything that READ MORE
I have had good results treating sciatic pain. But it is important to rule out anything more serious. Have you had an MRI? They can show more clearly if there is anything that may need immediate Western medical intervention. Usually, sciatica is caused by a pinched nerve. Acupuncture can help with swelling and relieving pain and relaxing tight tendons and muscles. But if there is something like a bulging disc at play, then chiropractic care, PT or even surgery may be warranted before you seek out an acupuncturist.
I have had success treating sciatica but patient compliance is just as important. So long as serious structural or nerve issues have been ruled out, then proper rest, stretching and more stretching, wearing proper footwear, having a good supportive mattress, using heat and alternating with ice, all have aided in pain along with acupuncture treatment. Good luck and feel better!!!

What should you do after an acupuncture session?

That's a great question! There is no hard and fast rule about this, but in my opinion, one should relax after treatment. Whether that be taking a long hot bath, unplugging the READ MORE
That's a great question! There is no hard and fast rule about this, but in my opinion, one should relax after treatment. Whether that be taking a long hot bath, unplugging the phone, taking a nap, it's really up to you. But it's better if you don't rush straight to work or another appointment. That would be a little counterproductive to treatment. In order for the treatment to really take hold, it's important to really listen to your body to accurately assess what acupuncture does for you and within you. Too often, we don't stop and listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us. It's best if you don't allow the demands of life to take place right after a treatment. It doesn't mean acupuncture won't work if you do, but to really get an accurate read, just rest and relax. Good luck!!

Is acupuncture for your neck safe?

Most certainly. Acupuncturist complete (at least) 3 years of extensive education and training and know exactly how deep they can safely needle. We learn about all of the body READ MORE
Most certainly. Acupuncturist complete (at least) 3 years of extensive education and training and know exactly how deep they can safely needle. We learn about all of the body systems; anatomy and physiology, all of the structures and bony landmarks. If there was an area of your neck that you did not feel comfortable being needled, your practitioner would or should respect that and needle other areas that target neck pain. Once you see how easy it is, and virtually painless, I think you will feel more relaxed and allow your acupuncturist to needle where they think will best treat your condition. Good luck and good Qi!!!

Should I drink water after acupuncture?

I'm not sure of your reasoning here....did somebody instruct you to do that? I certainly can't see how it would hurt, but you should not drink too much, as you can flush out important READ MORE
I'm not sure of your reasoning here....did somebody instruct you to do that? I certainly can't see how it would hurt, but you should not drink too much, as you can flush out important nutrients in your urine. Ask your practitioner what they think and they can discuss your reasons why you would want to do this. Good luck!

Can acupuncture help get rid of belly fat?

If it can, I am unaware of how to achieve this. I only know of the tried and true method of diet and exercise. I know of many acupuncture protocols that target appetite, but READ MORE
If it can, I am unaware of how to achieve this. I only know of the tried and true method of diet and exercise. I know of many acupuncture protocols that target appetite, but eliminating fat, no. Good luck!

Does acupuncture help with fertility?

There has been some success with infertility and acupuncture. As with any type of medicine, there is no guarantee. If structural problems such as a tilted uterus, uterine fibroids READ MORE
There has been some success with infertility and acupuncture. As with any type of medicine, there is no guarantee. If structural problems such as a tilted uterus, uterine fibroids and so on, with either you or your husband, have been ruled out, then the main objective is to regulate the period. Oftentimes, I see issues of endometriosis, heavy periods or missing periods and these can be problematic but not always. Working with your acupuncturist on stress reduction, dietary changes, maintaining a healthy diet that supports pregnancy, following a regimen of sleep, deep breathing and internal exercises, for instance, all can greatly increase your chances of conceiving. Removing any negative influences in your life is key. If there are any unresolved issues emotionally, you may want to explore therapy. No one thing alone will help with infertility, but these aforementioned things, along with acupuncture definitely improve your chances. Good luck!!!

Is an acupuncture treatment painful?

Congrats to you for trying acupuncture!!! Needling certain areas can be a little pinchy but mostly, it depends upon the technique of the practitioner. The needles come packaged READ MORE
Congrats to you for trying acupuncture!!! Needling certain areas can be a little pinchy but mostly, it depends upon the technique of the practitioner. The needles come packaged inside of a guide tube. I use the tube to insert the needle to reduce the sensation. Most patients tell me it feels like a little mosquito bite or they don't feel it at all and are pleasantly surprised. Think of the alternative.... Surgery or some invasive treatment that may require the use of hyperdermic needles that are much thicker than acupuncture needles and filled with medicine which can burn. Acupuncture needles are solid and contain no medicine. It enlists the body to heal itself over time by natural means and it's very un-invasive. Good luck and enjoy your experience!!!!

Can acupuncture help with fertility?

Yes, acupuncture has been shown to increase chances of conceiving. Of course, it is not a simple equation of needling=pregnancy. Other factors are involved such as structural READ MORE
Yes, acupuncture has been shown to increase chances of conceiving. Of course, it is not a simple equation of needling=pregnancy. Other factors are involved such as structural problems such as uterine fibroids, sperm motility, etc. Have you ruled out any of these among others? Endometrosis can cause difficulty getting pregnant. In my experience, stress is a HUGE factor in infertility. Making lifestyle changes such as doing yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc can definitely aid the body in relaxation which only aids in pregnancy. Poor sleeping habits can affect conception. Stress reduction is key and looking at occupational hazards/concerns such as chemical exposure, poor ventilation and excessive and prolonged stress at work or home. Taking a hard look at lifestyle habits and making changes where necessary can only help your case. Good luck!!!

Can acupuncture help with migraines?

I have had success with migraine pain with acupuncture. It may not work for everyone, but of course, that depends upon several variables. Diet, caffeine intake, sleep disorders, READ MORE
I have had success with migraine pain with acupuncture. It may not work for everyone, but of course, that depends upon several variables. Diet, caffeine intake, sleep disorders, hormonal disorders, autoimmune diseases, spinal abnormalities....the list goes on and on!!! If you are willing to make lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise for one, and you give it an honest shot....i.e, at least 6-8 treatments, many people experience good results with acupuncture. Good luck!!!

Is acupuncture a safe treatment for chronic pain?

Acupuncture is most definitely safe and has had success with chronic pain. You know the old saying " The further you walk into the woods, the longer it'll take to get out", so READ MORE
Acupuncture is most definitely safe and has had success with chronic pain. You know the old saying " The further you walk into the woods, the longer it'll take to get out", so it may take some time to see results. You may want to think about changing your diet and seeing a holistic nutritionist. Oftentimes, chronic pain can be an autoimmune response brought on by certain allergen causing foods, or at least be a contributing factor. Think about making some lifestyle changes, including reducing stress by engaging in internal exercises like yoga or tai chi and working on your diet. It's possible that this alone can reduce your pain. Good luck!!

Is acupuncture effective for arthritis pain?

Yes, it can be helpful, but to what extent depends on the extent of damage already present. How is your mattress? Is it firm enough to be comfortable and provide proper support? READ MORE
Yes, it can be helpful, but to what extent depends on the extent of damage already present. How is your mattress?
Is it firm enough to be comfortable and provide proper support? If there is disc protrusion along with arthritis, treatment outcomes may vary in effectiveness. If you are doing a job that requires a lot of movement that could be aggravating the situation. Postural habits could be to blame. Other therapies like physical therapy or massage may serve you well to do alongside acupuncture for maximum benefit. But I would definitely recommend light stretching and frequent movement to your desired tolerance level. Arthritic pain gets worse with lack of movement. Applying heat and/or ice regularly during the day may prove to be helpful. A supplement such as vitamin D and calcium will help over time and maintaining a healthy weight. All this being said, yes, acupuncture can help arthritis but only if you are doing your part by taking care of your body. Good luck!!!

Can chronic fatigue syndrome be treated with acupuncture?

That is difficult to answer with certainty. First of all, it is not known what causes chronic fatigue, so there is no pat answer regarding success rates. However, in Chinese READ MORE
That is difficult to answer with certainty. First of all, it is not known what causes chronic fatigue, so there is no pat answer regarding success rates. However, in Chinese Medicine, we would not look necessarily the Western Diagnosis, but symptoms and patterns exhibited. If the practitioner does a thorough workup and accurately makes a diagnosis based on tongue and pulse diagnosis along with symptoms, then acupuncture can be helpful with several treatments over the course of at least one month (in my opinion), I say this because it takes awhile to bring the body to a state of homeostasis given that a chronic condition didn't get that way overnight. If you would like some more information regarding acupuncture and treatment of CFS, do some research or come in for a visit. You can book an appointment on this website. Good luck!!

Can acupuncture help with headaches?

Yes, but it depends on what you do or don't do to make them better. First of all, have you seen your doctor or gotten an MRI to rule out anything more serious? If so, your diet READ MORE
Yes, but it depends on what you do or don't do to make them better. First of all, have you seen your doctor or gotten an MRI to rule out anything more serious? If so, your diet may be to blame. Oftentimes, some known allergen causing foods can cause migraines. Have you been tested for Celiac disease? If you are female, issues with the period and hormone levels can be problematic. Dehydration or too much caffeine can often be the culprit. Stress, lack of exercise, poor sleep or tight neck muscles can also cause headaches.
If you have taken an honest stock of your activities/habits and have made the suggested lifestyle changes, then yes, acupuncture can help. The migraines can often resolve over time if you make these changes. Good luck!

Is it normal to feel dizzy after acupuncture?

It can be a common side effect of acupuncture. What's happening is that the needles are displacing energy, or qi, that has been stuck or deficient. With the shift in energy, READ MORE
It can be a common side effect of acupuncture. What's happening is that the needles are displacing energy, or qi, that has been stuck or deficient. With the shift in energy, it may feel like unstopping a dam and dizziness can result. If it takes more than a few hours to resolve, then contact your practitioner and ask their opinion on what to do next. But if it was just a fleeting feeling and hopefully, very mild, then I would say that is quite normal and will become less frequent, or less pronounced with several treatments.

What are the negative side effects of acupuncture?

Occasionally, I have heard of patients having rebound headaches after the migraine has gone away. It is important to understand that acupuncture, or any type of medicine, is READ MORE
Occasionally, I have heard of patients having rebound headaches after the migraine has gone away. It is important to understand that acupuncture, or any type of medicine, is not a cure-all or a one time fix. Oftentimes, many treatments over the course of several months is what is needed to eradicate, or at least lessen, migraines. Depending upon how severe your case is and how long you have had them, it may take more than that. Have you isolated the exact cause of the headaches? Have you seen a specialist? Could you be exposed to chemicals in your home or work? If it's a vascular issue, you may need an MRI to rule out anything more serious. If it's a hormonal issue, you may need to get on the pill (assuming you are female!!!). If it's a dietary issue, than you will need to see a dietician. Once you have ruled out all of these things, then you will need to take a look at lifestyle habits. Caffeine or excessive sugar use, eating late at night, possible having a gluten sensitivity, not getting enough or quality sleep may be to blame. Acupuncture only works when the patient is willing to take suggestions from his or her practitioner as well as getting treatment on a regular basis and giving it an honest effort of at least 6-8 treatments. Good luck and feel better!!!