Your first visit will begin with an in-depth assessment of your condition and an initial treatment. The intake and treatment may take up to 1 and 1/2 hours. Typical treatments afterward last approximately 45 minutes.
- Course of Treatment
- Pulse, Tongue and Abdominal Diagnosis
- Results of Treatment
- Side Effects
Course of Treatment
As part of your first visit, I will discuss with you a proposed course of treatment. Since individuals vary, it is difficult to state definitively at the time of your first visit how many treatments will be required. In general, acute conditions of recent onset may only require two or three treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more treatments to achieve sustained results. With chronic conditions I usually recommend an initial course of three to five treatments in order to make a better assessment of whether or not acupuncture will help the condition. Most people begin to experience results within the first two to four treatments.
The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to treat. For longstanding illnesses, weekly or even bi-weekly treatments may be required for several months in order to have a curative effect.
Once you initiate a healing process, it is important to follow through on treatments. The more consistent you are, the better the likelihood of results. The effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative. After you are feeling better, I will likely recommend an additional few treatments. In Chinese medicine, this is referred to as “solidifying the constitution.” The goal is to further strengthen your body to prevent recurrence of the illness. Once they are feeling better, many people find it difficult to follow through with even just a couple treatments. Healing requires a lot of energy. Your body is most vulnerable following recovery from illness because it has expended much of its energy and internal resources in order to get better. It is therefore important to have a few treatments in order to prevent repeated or new illness.
During the assessment I may ask you about some things that you might not think are connected to your chief complaint – for example, your emotions, sleeping patterns, and eating habits. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the whole person, not just one isolated symptom. When put together, the myriad of symptoms and signs you are experiencing reveal patterns of disharmony. Although treatment will focus on your chief complaint, your whole being must be considered in order to develop the most appropriate course. Chinese medicine is unique in that it appreciates that illnesses may be identical, but the persons suffering from them are individuals.
Pulse, Tongue and Abdominal Diagnosis
As part of your intake, viewing your tongue and feeling your pulse can provide a Chinese medicine practitioner with a great deal of information about your body to help guide the treatment.
My needling technique is very gentle, and my clients usually do not feel anything more than sense of a small “mosquito bite” which disappears in moments. Although people experience different levels of sensitivity, I work very closely with you to make sure your experience is comfortable and positive.
My approach is always to use the fewest needles possible to achieve therapeutic results. With acupuncture, more needles does not always mean better results, but accurate selection of specific acupuncture points and placement are really the keys to giving an excellent treatment. Needles are typically retained for about 30 minutes. I often play soothing music to help you relax during this time. Many people even fall asleep.
Results of Treatment
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours, or even develop after one to three days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment. Or, relief may last from the first treatment until your next visit. It is important to recognize that we are all individuals. Individual response to treatment varies.
Side effects are rare but may include the following symptoms: light-headed feeling, dizziness, sleepiness, euphoria, nausea, slight bruising, residual muscle aching. Any of these should last only a very short time. It is helpful to take a short nap after acupuncture.
On rare occasions one’s original symptoms may briefly get worse or “flare up” after a treatment. A flare-up typically occurs later on the day of your treatment and only for an hour or so and then improvement and relief follow. If the flare-up lasts longer than this, please call me and let me know. In the long run, acupuncture does not make symptoms worse.
In some conditions, the body must fully expel a pathogen in order for healing to occur. For example, if you have a cold, acupuncture will not get rid of the cold, but can help accelerate the cold cycle so your body gets healthy sooner. If you are fatigued and starting to get a cold, acupuncture may help your body ward it off. There are also some terrific herbal formulas that can help.
In cases of chronic pain, your original pain may improve and then unmask other less obvious pain in the surrounding area. Please report what happened when you return so I can modify your treatment accordingly. I will also be interested in any change in your use of pain-killer medications as a result of treatment. Please be advised that changes in prescription medication require prior approval and strict monitoring by your family physician.
In this section you will find information on your role in the healing process. I believe strongly in empowering and equipping you with what you need to sustain the most optimal state of well-being that is available to you. As a result you may receive ‘assignments’ (one at a time) for you to focus on. These are all meant to accelerate and give aid to the healing potential.
Before Your First Visit
Spend some time thinking about what you would like to achieve from your acupuncture treatment. What are your expectations? What questions or concerns do you have about acupuncture? Jot down a few notes to bring with you to your first visit. The more openly we can communicate, the better I can help you.
Be realistic. If you have several conditions or symptoms you would like to address, please rank them. On your first visit, I will ask you primarily about your chief complaint. Secondary issues will also be noted and addressed as treatment progresses.
Start noticing how you feel each day and make a few notes. With respect to your chief complaint, try to answer these questions:
- When did this condition first appear? Is this a new condition or a recurring illness?
- What brought it on? What triggers it?
- Is your condition getting worse?
- To what degree does it interfere with your daily routine, work or sleep?
- What aggravates it? What provides relief?
- What time of day does it bother you the most? the least?
Be as descriptive and specific as possible. For example, “pain” and “discomfort” are very general words. Chinese medicine recognizes subtle distinctions in different types of pain. Burning pain is not the same as pain that has a stabbing sensation. Listed below are some words you might use to distinguish your particular pain.
- Dull and achy
- Radiating (from where?)
- Pins & needles
- No feeling
If none of these are appropriate, try coming up with your own words. If you are having difficulty describing your pain in words, try visualizing it or drawing a picture, and then describe what you see.
On the Day of Your Appointment
The following suggestions are provided to help you have a safe and relaxing experience with acupuncture. In order to reduce the risk of side effects, I require my clients to adhere to certain precautions. Please read this section carefully. If you have any questions, please contact me prior to your first visit.
- Bring your notes and a list of current medications.
- Eat a light meal two (2) hours prior to your visit.
- Acupuncture is not performed on individuals who are fasting. Being over-hungry increases the risk of nausea or dizziness. At the same time, please do not overeat or eat any foods that cause your stomach to be upset (for example, rich, greasy, fried, or extremely spicy foods).
- Avoid alcohol on the day of your treatment. Acupuncture is not performed on intoxicated individuals due to the increased risk of shock. It is also not advisable to become intoxicated shortly after treatment.
- Avoid heavy exertion (including sexual activity) immediately before and after treatment (i.e., within two (2) hours).
- Set aside enough time so that you are not rushing to and from your visit. Physical strain immediately before or after acupuncture can weaken your body. Please schedule your activities on the day of your visit accordingly (for example, do not schedule your appointment for an hour before your two-hour kickboxing class).
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that can be rolled up to your elbows or knees. Acupuncture points are located all over the body. Many of the acupuncture points that are commonly used are located between the wrists and elbows, and the ankles and knees. You will be more comfortable if your clothing can be easily rolled up to your elbows and knees. Women should not wear one-piece dresses. If necessary, a gown can be provided.
- Be on time for your appointment so that you may benefit fully. When you make an appointment, please understand that time has been reserved for you. There will be a charge for missed appointments without 24 hours notice.