Karen Mastrangelo started practicing acupuncture in 2010, after earning her Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the prestigious Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Though she spent time studying and practicing in both California, where PCOM is located, and New York, she is a native Clevelander and ultimately decided to come back home to open up her own practice.
“There are few acupuncture practices in the Greater Cleveland area,” Karen noted when we sat down to discuss her practice, “Generally, there’s a bit of a lag in the Midwest, but we’re starting to see more and more people coming to acupuncture. We provide education to so many so that they can understand how it works, and how it can work with Western medicine.”
Karen explained that, for many of her clients, acupuncture is seen as a last resort that they come to when they are desperate for relief, but that acupuncture shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be a last resort. Coming to it earlier can relieve some of the pressure client’s place on themselves, and it can also be effectively paired with more traditional therapies and Western methods to provide holistic care.
“I named the practice “Acupuncture First” as a way to combat that thinking. It flips the script, and encourages people to try another route.” Karen explained.
She brought her practice to the Fairmont Creamery in 2019.
“We built this space from scratch,” Karen said, “We wanted to emphasize the architecture, the industrial vibe, the whole aesthetic of the Fairmont Creamery, while making the space feel inclusive.”
The Acupuncture First space, which is located on the first floor of the Creamery, achieves all of this while creating a welcoming and calming space. The
reception area and community room are bright with comfortable chairs and verdant plants that immediately set the tone. The private treatment rooms carry that tone through, but the bright windows are covered with curtains that quiet the space and allow individuals to focus on their session.
This individual experience is at the heart of Karen’s practice. The first session always begins with a head-to-toe health check, and a discussion with the client so that Karen and her staff can gain a holistic understanding of the client rather than narrow their focus on a single issue.
“We really want to give time to each client, and want them to feel seen and heard. You might have someone come in who is complaining about pain in their elbow, but that pain is being caused by an issue in their shoulder or back—and we’d miss that if we only focused on their elbow.” Karen said. “All of the systems in our body connect to one another and to our nervous system. When those systems are imbalanced or disconnected, that’s where you see challenges, pain, disease.”
Acupuncture, as a practice, looks to reset those connections and correct those imbalances. New clients to Acupuncture First can expect an initial, individual-focused session in which their provider will spend time talking through their history and goals with them. Then, a personalized treatment plan will be developed and recommended.
“We typically recommend a number of treatments over the course of a few weeks or months, and then, depending on the case, might recommend a long-term, maintenance-focused plan. But, really, every treatment plan is different,” Karen explained, and there is no fixed number of treatments or duration.
And, of course, Karen addressed the most common question about acupuncture when we met: “No, it doesn’t hurt! We’re not here to overwork the nervous system or cause stress. The needles are hair-thin, and most people don’t even feel them. Actually, a lot of people fall asleep during the session!”
The SCA team can confirm this. A few members of the team have gone to Karen, and have described the comfort, relaxation, and relief they felt.
“Karen has such a touch,” Mike explained, “She’s so knowledgeable and gracious.”
In addition to acupuncture, Karen’s team offers craniosacral therapy, cupping, reiki, restorative yoga, and massage. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they also offered community acupuncture—a group-based session at a lower price point. “Community acupuncture was really designed to make the practice inclusive, especially because acupuncture is not covered by most health insurance providers in Ohio,” Karen explained, “We’re planning to bring it back as soon as we are able to do it safely without fear of COVID.”
You can find full descriptions of Acupuncture First’s services, costs, and answers to other frequently asked questions on their website.