What To Expect
What to Expect at your Acupuncture Treatment
Before your session, please do not come directly from a heavy meal. Leave at least half an hour between eating and the time that the session begins. If you take medications, take your usual doses and let us know what you have taken that day.
When coming for acupuncture, you do not need to dress for the occasion. We usually have patients disrobe for treatment. They are draped for privacy just as in professional massage. Sheets and blankets are available to make you comfortable. The room is kept warm as most people get cool during the treatments.
At the first meeting, you will be asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire dealing with every area of your health. These are the questions normally asked in the process of making an Oriental Medicine diagnosis, whether for acupuncture or herbal therary. We will then interview you carefully about the things you have noted on your form and will take the time to answer all of your questions. It is important for you to feel comfortable with the acupuncture process. Your relationship with your practitioner is critical to the effectiveness of your treatment and your progress during our work together.
An examination of your pulse and your tongue will be performed, and your practitioner will palpate your abdomen and acupuncture points on your body. This will help confirm the Chinese medicine diagnosis and give us more information about your health. A preliminary diagnosis and a treatment plan will be made, including a selection of acupuncture points for you. Then, a basic acupuncture treatment will be done, which is designed to open the flow of energy in the body and begin to treat your condition. It is an opportunity for you to experience what acupuncture is like, and to see how you feel. It is also a time for us to discern how you respond and make note of any important things that were not learned during the interview.
During the treatment you will lie on a treatment table covered with a clean sheet. You may lie on your back for the first part of the session, and then turn onto your stomach for the treatment of points on your back. We can prop you if lying on the table is uncomfortable. Sometimes people are treated lying on their sides, or sitting up in the recliner chair, if need be. Needles will be placed into your legs. The second area we use is the arms. Lastly, I may place needles gently into or near an area of pain, if needed. There are acupuncture points on every area of the body, but we try to avoid the very painful or sensitive areas. Needles are inserted anywhere from very shallow in the skin to deeper in the muscle (in the case of the buttocks, for instance), and we pay close attention to underlying anatomy to protect you from injury.
When the needles are inserted, people sometimes feel a tiny prick as they go through the skin. After this, the sensations are usually not painful. People often describe the sensation of acupuncture needles reaching the points in these ways: a feeling of numbness, dull ache, heaviness, distention, a zing, a tingle, an electrical sensation at the point or moving away from the point, a grab, or spasm, or they say they cannot feel anything. The experience of not feeling the needles is most common. Sometimes as they are removed, the needles stimulate the points once more. When you feel pain, burning or stinging that lasts for more than a second, the needle usually needs to be moved slightly. When inserted into the correct location, the insertion should be practically painless for most of the points on the body.
The treatment will last for a total of 30 to 75 minutes. This will depend on the number and location of the points, and whether you want to rest longer. Occasionally people feel anxious. The needles can always be removed at any time. We can also do special points to help the patient relax during the treatment.
Many people feel benefits of treatment immediately. Others may not notice a change for a day or two, or until after a couple of treatments. This probably depends on one’s sensitivity to acupuncture, the length and severity of the illness, what other treatment are being used, and what drugs may be in the system. Some people find that they feel like resting or napping after the treatment. Others feel energetic and clear immediately. Patients are fine to drive themselves home.
We frequently refer clients, if needed, to other practitioners for homeopathy, chiropractic care, nutrition, allopathic (traditional western scientific) medicine, physical therapy, craniosacral therapy, massage, and structural work such as Rolfing. We may also offer you traditional Chinese herbal formulas or supplements indicated by Oriental medicine analysis of your problem. We can discuss this at your session. Herbs are powerful medicine and should not be self-administered without guidance of a professional trained in the field.
In China, a course of treatment with acupuncture usually is made up of daily or every-other day treatments, ten in a row, from 20 to 60 treatments. Acupuncture is very inexpensive there (by our standards) which makes it possible for people to have lots of treatments close together. Acupuncture is subtle in its effect, and like chiropractic care, often requires repeated treatments to establish the desired changes in your system. Therefore, for many problems, we suggest that people attend a session at least once per week for four weeks. We then reevaluate your progress and may go to bi-weekly visits. Together, we decide what is best for you. Many people come weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for stress management, wellness, preventive care, or maintenance care. In this way, acupuncture can be used like massage, as part of your wellness program.
We believe that you are the best expert on your health and health care needs. We expect that you take responsibility for your health. Your acupuncturist will make recommendations, and it is your choice to follow them. You may find surprising things when you carefully monitor what makes you better and worse. Trust yourself and find health care providers that trust your assessment of yourself and want to work with you to establish optimal health. We will do everything we can to assist you in your pursuit of health and wellness.
We are always available to answer your questions, and though we can’t come to the phone if with a client, we get messages frequently and return your call as soon as possible. There are receptionists in the office whenever we are working. We look forward to working with you if you choose to pursue this avenue of health care.