Your first acupuncture appointment will usually last about 90+ minutes. We begin with an in-depth conversation about your health concerns, past health history, lifestyle, goals for treatment, and any questions you may have about Chinese medicine and the treatment process. This conversation is an important part of the diagnostic process, and allows your acupuncturist to get to know you and understand how best to address your health concerns.
Depending upon your specific health concerns, your acupuncturist may use aspects of physical examination, most often palpation (examination by touch) to help understand your condition. For example if you experience shoulder pain, your acupuncturist will palpate your shoulders and back to understand the location and nature of your pain. Your acupuncturist may also palpate along the energy channels in your body in order to select the most effective acupuncture points for your treatment.
Your acupuncturist will spend some time feeling your pulse. Chinese medical pulse palpation is different than western medical pulse-taking (which focuses almost exclusively on the heart rate). Your pulse will be palpated in six different positions—three on each wrist. each position provides information about different aspects of your health and the causes for your symptoms.
Your acupuncturist may also ask to look at your tongue—the structure, color, and coating of your tongue provides information about your physical health.
Treatment will follow the diagnostic process. If possible, please try to wear comfortable clothing for your appointment. Depending on your treatment needs, you may often remain fully clothed during your treatment. However, gowns and linens are always available if you would prefer to partially disrobe or if your treatment makes partial disrobing appropriate.
Please eat sensibly (avoiding caffeine) a few hours before your appointment. It is best to be neither hungry nor extremely full during your treatment.
Treatments can vary greatly, depending upon your individual needs and considerations. In addition to acupuncture, your treatment may include cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, tui na, and electrical needle stimulation.
Once acupuncture needles have been inserted into appropriate points in your body, your acupuncturist will usually leave you to relax in your serene treatment room for up to 30 minutes, allowing the needles sufficient time to influence your body’s qi. Most people look forward to this opportunity to relax during an otherwise hectic day and generally feel refreshed afterwards.
Follow-up visits typically last up to one hour. Follow-up visits also begin with a conversation, pulse and visual examination, focusing primarily on progress and changes in your condition as well as any new concerns.
Your individual needs determine how often, and for how long, you will need to receive treatment (generally given once, occasionally twice, a week). As your condition improves, and your symptoms are alleviated, the frequency of your treatments may be slowly reduced – to every other week, monthly or even seasonally.