Your first visit for acupuncture should not be fraught with dread, however, the thought of having several small needles inserted into your skin would naturally make most a little fearful. Fear not, the needles are hair-thin and many patients do not even feel the needles. Those that do report more of a pinching sensation or a deep pressing feeling that is momentary. All report that the benefit far outweighs the minute amount of possible discomfort.
Upon entering the clinic on your initial visit you will be asked to fill out paperwork regarding the usual personal and contact information. Also in your paperwork will be a questionnaire regarding your state of health, presenting complaints and questions related, and some seemingly unrelated, to your condition. You will then be taken to a treatment room designed for your comfort and relaxation. The light will be low and soft music will be playing. It is best to go ahead and begin relaxing by removing your shoes and lying down on the table. Let the assistant know if you need to use the restroom or would like bottled water prior to your treatment. The doctor will enter and introduce himself/herself and begin the assessment. Please feel free to ask any and all questions - the doctors are there for you. Following questioning the doctor will take your pulse and observe your tongue to formulate a diagnosis. This is not the same pulse taken by your western practitioner and the diagnosis will also be quite different. The questioning, pulse and tongue diagnosis assesses the flow of what is known as your Qi (chee). Qi is a vital energy that flows through pathways intersecting your internal organs and your mind. In this field of Medicine, we have observed that an imbalance in certain pathways corresponds to specific illnesses and that by placing small needles in specific points along those pathways we can influence that imbalance into balance. If your Qi is flowing in a balanced manner you will be free of pain and illness. At this time you may view the needles if you choose. Our needles are individually wrapped in airtight packaging and are properly disposed of following treatment. You will then be asked to lie either face-up or down on the table, depending on your condition, and the doctor will begin your treatment. Pre-treatment may consist of palpation/pressure and range of motion testing if it is a muscular or joint condition. Your treatment may consist of acupuncture (with or without stimulation), cupping, moxibustion and herbal formulation. There will also likely be dietary, lifestyle and exercise recommendations given. The typical acupuncture treatment uses approximately 6-12 needles and the typical cupping treatment uses 2-8 cups. The doctor will then lower the lights and leave the room. Most sessions require 15-25 minutes and during that time it is important that you relax - the more you relax the better your treatment results! If you have a hard time relaxing try meditation or visual muscle relaxation techniques. It is not uncommon to have a more difficult time relaxing during your first visit - on your second visit it will be much easier. Upon completion of your treatment, the assistant will enter the room and remove your needles and/or cups and instruct you to take your time and return to the front desk at your leisure. If the doctor has suggested an herbal formula it will be waiting at the desk. You will then schedule your next treatment, pay for your visit and return home. After your treatment, it is important that you refrain from mental and physical stress as much as possible. It is suggested that you go home and relax with a good book or movie and get a good night's sleep. We have created a balance in your Qi and would like for you to refrain from activity that might cause an imbalance, at least for a few hours following treatment.
Because we treat the whole person, body/mind/spirit, it is common to notice that smaller issues aside from your main complaint will be relieved after treatment. Most patients report a feeling of calm and relaxation immediately following treatment, increased energy and a feeling of happiness the following day and, of course, relief from the pain or discomfort of the condition they were treated for. The required number of treatments for each patient depends on many factors such as the age of the patient, their overall health and lifestyle habits, the severity of the condition, if the condition is chronic or acute, patient compliance, etc., but we expect some relief in 1 to 2 sessions. Our common goal is three treatments, reassess and maintain. Some patients require only one or two treatments while others require more. We do not use pre-paid treatment plans as we recognize all patients are individual and heal at different levels and thus it is impossible to tell exactly how many treatments each will require.