What happens at my first appointment?
When you arrive I’ll give you a patient consent form and a basic medical history form to fill out. We then start talking. Depending on the issue you’ve come to work on, your first appointment may be quite straightforward. If it’s about pain I’ll ask you questions to find out how long you’ve had the pain, where it is, what makes it worse, and how it’s impacting upon your daily routine. I may palpate (feel) the areas that are sore, such as back, shoulders, hips, or abdomen.
If you have a chronic health issue, or a complaint that is affecting your daily life such as poor sleep, headaches or digestive trouble we may take more time to talk and gain a clearer understanding of the complexity and history of what you’re experiencing. I may ask questions about your sleep, diet and digestion, bowel movements, emotions and lifestyle.
With health issues other than pain I will feel the pulses of both wrists and look at your tongue. This gives me a better picture of your general health and helps with the diagnosis and the treatment plan I make.
Tell me about the needles
In the first treatment the use of needles will be minimal and gentle to learn how responsive your system is to acupuncture. Acupuncture needles are inserted through the skin into specific acupuncture points along energy pathways or channels/meridians. The needles are pre-sterilised, single use, disposable needles. There are different lengths to suit different areas of the body and are of a very fine width, not much thicker than a human hair. The needles usually remain in place for about 25 – 30 minutes.
Will it hurt?
Acupuncture is not usually painful but can produce strong sensations. Some people notice warmth, others a radiating sensation travelling from the needles. Some people feel local tingling or a deep, weighted feeling. All of these are normal and can be deeply relaxing. Many people drift off to sleep!
One treatment method I use for pain relief doesn’t require needling in the area which is sore or painful. I may use your knees to treat your elbows or the back of your hand to treat your lower back. This means we avoid aggravating areas already sore or inflamed. Most treatments of this style use points below the elbows to the hands and from the knees to the feet.
This is the perfect method to avoid triggering more pain, like shoulder or back pain because you don’t have to take off clothes. As you may know, trying to pull a shirt over your head can hurt like hell if you have a sore shoulder.
Your comfort and safety are important to me in all sessions. You will gain the most benefits from the treatment if you feel comfortable and relaxed. I often use massage before needles to help patients increase their sense of deep relaxation.
Once the needles are in place, I either stay in the room and sit quietly or sit in the waiting room to allow you relax and gain the full benefit of the treatment. There isn’t any expectation to keep up a conversation once your treatment begins – it’s your time to relax.
Will I have to take my clothes off?
It depends – one treatment method I use for pain relief doesn’t require taking off much at all as most points are found below the elbows, down to the hands and from the knees to the feet.
If I do need to access points under clothes I will ask you to take off trousers or tops to allow access to those points. I will leave the room to allow you to change and you can expect towels to cover you and keep you warm.
What else should I know?
An acupuncture treatment often includes Tuina massage but I also at times use warming moxa, cupping, electro-acupuncture. I offer dietary and lifestyle advice when it’s appropriate. Herbs may also be prescribed.
Moxibustion is a heating herb used on the outside of the body to increase energy or reduce pain. Cupping helps to reduce pain by stimulating the flow of blood and qi in the local area. This is great on large, tight muscles like the shoulders and lower back.
I’d like to read some more about acupuncture…
We’ve found some excellent acupuncture resources for you.