I will ask you a series of questions to determine your health history and Chinese medical diagnosis. I will also look at your tongue and feel your pulse, both of which help guide my diagnosis and thus treatment. When appropriate, I will do orthopedic tests, palpation, or other diagnostic techniques. I will then formulate a treatment plan based on your diagnosis, and I will insert the needles. I will leave in the needles for about 12-30 minutes and then remove them. I might do needle treatments on both the front and back sides of your body. Finally, when needed, I will also use other techniques, such as myofascial release, cupping or moxibustion.
I will always explain these techniques and why I think they will help and seek your approval before doing them for the first time. The first appointment is 90 minutes, instead of one hour, because I like to do a thorough health history and get to know you a bit before making a diagnosis and longer-term treatment plan. We can schedule subsequent visits based on the proposed treatment plan and your desires.
Most of the time, it does not hurt. Often when people think of needles, they think of hypodermic needles, which are used to draw blood or inject medicine into the body. Hypodermic needles are designed for these purposes and thus are large in diameter with a serrated tip that can penetrate the skin and muscles.
Acupuncture needles, however, are very thin and flexible. In fact, several acupuncture needles, which are not much thicker then a strand of hair, can fit in the tip of one hypodermic needle.
In many cases, a patient will not feel the needle at all. At times, a patient might feel slight discomfort (a prick or pinch) upon insertion, but the sensation will subside within a few seconds. You might feel a dull ache once the needle is inserted, but the sensation should not be uncomfortable. If you ever feel a sensation you do not like, let me know and I will make necessary adjustments. The most important thing is to communicate with the acupuncturist, so she knows what you are experiencing and can react appropriately.
Certain sports acupuncture techniques involve deeper insertion into tight muscles or bound-up fascia. These techniques might require manipulation of the needle to try to release Trigger Points or other tense tissues in the body. In this case, the sensation might be stronger and cause a muscle twitch or a feeling of spreading as the tissues release. The patient and acupuncturist will communicate constantly to ensure that the patient is comfortable. The acupuncturist will never perform a technique that the patient does not want or finds too uncomfortable.
Overall, acupuncture is a healing practice and should not cause pain. Most patients find acupuncture extremely relaxing and many fall asleep during treatments and leave the treatments feeling refreshed and calm.
Not necessarily. You may need to expose the area being treated, which might include the back or chest. I have gowns, towels and sheets available to cover you and help you feel comfortable. I always work to ensure that patients feel respected and modest. If you are uncomfortable exposing the area being treated I can often treat distal points on the arms and legs that also help with the specific issue and do not require exposure of sensitive areas.
Most of the time the needles stay in for 12-30 minutes, sometimes slightly less, sometimes slightly more, depending on the specific situation.
The number of needles depends on the patient’s specific situation. Most of the time, we use fewer than 15 needles for a single set of acupuncture, although in some cases we may use as few as 4 and as many as 30 needles.
Sometimes a few drops of blood will come out when a needle is removed. This is usually a good thing and means that stagnation is leaving the channel. Sometimes a few drops of blood are intentionally released from the channels to relieve pain, fever, sore throat, etc.
I hope that you will feel at least some relief after each treatment. Patients often feel relaxed and calm. Sometimes, you might feel a bit lightheaded or “out of it.” It is important to stay hydrated after treatments.
At least for the first few treatments, you might want to try to schedule them at a time when you can relax for a few hours afterwards or at least not have to do anything too strenuous, either mentally or physically. It is always beneficial to allow yourself to rest after a treatment. However, I know that most people have very busy schedules and cannot always find several “free” hours during a day, so you can always let me know that you have to go straight back to work or do some sort of physical activity and I can adjust the treatment accordingly.
I will contact you after the first few treatments to find out how you are feeling and answer any questions you have. Of course, you can always call or email me if you have any questions.
It is important to eat at least a small meal before a treatment to help with possible lightheadedness after a treatment. If possible, dress in comfortable, loose clothing so I can more easily access different acupuncture points and so that you will be comfortable while lying on the table. I also have gowns available should you want to change out of your clothing.
If possible, try to arrive several minutes early so you can rest a bit before the treatment and so diagnosis, which involves pulse taking, will be more accurate.
Finally, you can bring any relevant medical records, lab results, charts, etc. that you would like to share. For instance, if you are seeking treatment for an injury, you can bring your doctor’s assessment of and treatment plan for the injury.