Acupuncture Treatment Explained
During your first appointment, we’ll sit and talk for awhile. We’ll review your health history and identify your primary health concerns.
Then I’ll take your pulses and look at your tongue. These are two diagnostic tools we use in Chinese medicine.
Taking Your Pulse
To take your pulse, I will place three fingers — the index, middle, and ring finger — on one wrist first, then the other. Each of my fingers will evaluate more than the rhythm and rate; your pulse can tell me if a condition is internal or external, if your condition is the result of deficiency or excess, if heat or cold is involved, what may have caused your condition, and even the mechanics of your current condition. Essentially, your pulse will communicate — through its various qualities — the state of the internal landscape of your body.
Looking at the Tongue
I’ll ask to look at your tongue for the same reason: it is believed that any change in the internal landscape of your body will be reflected in your tongue. (Don’t worry, I’ll always stick my tongue out at you first to show you exactly what I’m asking you to do!)
The Acupuncture Treatment
Next, we’ll outline your treatment plan. (See discussion on general treatment timelines and recommendations below.)
And finally we’ll do the acupuncture.
Most of the time you’re not going to feel anything except my fingers on your skin. But you may feel something like a quick pinch or tingle, spreading warmth, or a heavy, dull ache. During your treatment, I will continuously communicate with you to ensure that you are comfortable with the sensations you are experiencing.
And please, please know this: It shouldn’t hurt. It doesn’t have to hurt to work!
Generally, my patients are on the table for about 20-30 minutes. It’s very relaxing and most of them even take a quick nap!
Your first appointment will last about 90 minutes, while all follow-up appointments will typically last 60 minutes.
How many treatments should you expect?
Acupuncture works cumulatively, in a series of treatments. You can never have acupuncture treatments too close together, but you can have them too far apart.
If we treat you today and don’t see each other again for a few weeks and your symptoms start to slowly creep back in so that by the time we treat you again you’re back at square one with your symptoms, then it means we went too far between the first two appointments.
If treatments were to continue at this frequency, we’d be stuck on a seesaw of your symptoms improving, then getting worse, then improving, then getting worse. We obviously don’t want this; we want your symptoms to slowly improve, and improve, and improve!
In order to accomplish this, I’ll need to see you weekly (at a minimum!) for the first 3-4 weeks. As long as your symptoms are improving and staying at that level of improvement between appointments, we’ll continue to see each other once per week.
Once the symptoms are basically gone, then we’ll go into tune-up mode where I have my patients come in every 2-3 weeks to check in.
And I have all of my patients come in at least once per month for their tune up treatments. This is because Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention rather than reaction; all Chinese medicine modalities can be used as preventative measures to ensure the body is able to maintain its balance/optimal state of health.
Basic cases generally take around 5-6 treatments, while more chronic or challenging cases can take 10 or more treatments. We’ll know more after we see how your body responds to the first treatment because everyone responds differently based on his or her unique constitution, experiences, and circumstances, and the condition being treated.
You may notice a difference in your acute condition from the first treatment, but in order to really feel things start to shift permanently, I would recommend you give it at least 3-4 treatments.
If you’ve had your condition for quite some time, I would expect your case to be more in the 10 treatment range. Again, you may notice a difference in your chronic condition from the first treatment, but I would recommend you give it at least 5-6 treatments before you look for a more significant shift in your symptoms.
And what do I expect from you?
Get curious. Approach the medicine with an open mind. You might be (pleasantly!) surprised by what you find.
You may have questions or doubts. Let’s have an honest conversation about them as they arise.
Please don’t hold back on my account. Knowing the entirety of your situation helps me to better understand you and how the medicine can help.
Because I will do my best to honor scheduled appointment times, I ask the same of you. Please try to notify my office at least 24 hours in advance of any appointment cancellations.