What to Expect
Our goal is to make your visit as relaxing and healing as possible. Ideally, you will leave your acupuncture appointment feeling rested and refreshed, the way you would following a massage or other spa treatment.
To enhance the relaxation benefits of acupuncture, it’s helpful to avoid scheduling an appointment directly before or after strenuous or stressful activities. In advance of your treatment, prepare your body for relaxation. Please wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing. Commonly used acupuncture points tend to be located between the wrists and elbows and the ankles and knees, so it’s helpful to wear clothing that can be comfortably rolled up to your elbows and knees. If you’re coming from work, you can bring a change of clothes, such as athletic shorts. We recommend that you have eaten two hours prior to treatment, but not immediately before. As with any restorative therapy, you do not want to feel either overly full or hungry.
Generally, your first appointment, typically 45-60 minutes, will last longer than follow-up visits. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire so that we can review your medical history, current health concerns, and goals for treatment. Please bring a list of current medications, including any prescriptions, herbal supplements, and vitamins. Additionally, it is helpful to bring the results of any medical tests relevant to your condition. This data, along with a few simple diagnostic procedures, will allow us to tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.
During the evaluation, you may be asked questions that do not seem relevant to your presenting problem. For example, a person presenting with lower back pain may be asked about sleep patterns or caffeine intake. The great benefit of Ancient Chinese medicine is its appreciation of the individual body as a unique system. By looking at your system as a whole, we can discover patterns that will benefit your entire health, not one isolated symptom.
You will receive acupuncture treatment in a private room. After discussing your health concerns, we will listen to the pulse of both wrists. Next, we will check your tongue. Variations in pulse and tongue characteristics provide important data about the source and severity of your body’s energy blockages. At this point, we will discuss diagnostic impressions and recommend a course of treatment.
Following the exam, you will lie down on a massage table. We will provide pillows for support under your knees, lower back, and neck. Heat lamps can add warmth. Once you are comfortable, we will clean your skin with alcohol swabs and insert ultra-thin, disposable needles at specific acupuncture points. Based on your diagnosis and treatment goals, the initial treatment will generally focus on 3-10 points.
The needles make contact with lines of energy. For the practitioner, this contact feels like a fish gently tugging on a line. Patients often report a similar, painless tug. It’s helpful for you to report this experience, as well as any additional sensations, from a tiny tap or pinch to a dull soreness, as these sensations can further help your practitioner diagnose energy blocks and flows. Patients are generally surprised by the gentleness of insertion, but needles that cause discomfort can be adjusted or removed at any time.
Once the needles have been placed, you will rest comfortably for 15-20 minutes. We will offer soothing music and can adjust the volume to your liking. To promote the body’s healing, it’s helpful to refrain from talking or reading during this time. Most patients experience a deep sense of restfulness and well-being. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep, and in fact, a short nap is beneficial to the flow of qi.
When your acupuncture therapy is complete, we will gently remove and dispose of the needles. We may check your pulse and ask how you are feeling in order to evaluate the body’s response to treatment. In the hours following treatment, most patients experience continued relaxation and peacefulness. Depending on your condition, you may notice total or partial relief from pain or discomfort. Generally, this relief lasts longer with each successive treatment.