You made a right decision to give acupuncture a try! After hearing your friends talking about it, and most likely googling information about how it works and what it “does”, you are ready to try this fantastic medicine model for yourself and see what it can do for you.
You might have asked your practitioner what to expect on booking your treatment, or if they are anything like me, they would of told you even if you didn’t ask, what to expect. However, let me share with you a few tips about what is in store for you on your first treatment session:
Initial consultation is all about assessing you profile in Chinese Medicine terms to determine the pattern of disbalance that has led to your health symptoms. Many question will be asked about your lifestyle, diet, exercise, previous medical history and significant medical procedures you have had, if any. You will be asked about your sleep patterns, digestion, bowel movements, any pain and its location and, if you are a woman, details about your menstrual cycle.
Pulse taking– pulses will be felt on both of your wrists to determine energetic state of your internal organs. This chart shows well what we are looking for:
Tongue diagnosis– your tongue will be looked at as well, to confirm-or sometimes dispute-the picture that is starting to form about your pattern of disharmony, so the treatment plan can be assessed correctly. These are some of the tongues that we see every day in our clinical practice:
Personally, I like to inspect the state of the channels on the body as well, so gentle palpation is always included in my diagnostics. This includes lower legs up to the knee, abdomen and forearms.
Your treatment is now ready to commence. Acupuncture needles are really fine, like strands of hair, and although you will and should feel sensation upon needle insertion, this is not at all painful. My patients describe it as “heat sensation”, “tingling”, “heaviness”, “dull ache” and the best one I ever heard from someone who never had any acupuncture before:” as if something from underneath has hooked to the needle tip and transferred through to the surface.” Spot on!
Always, always ask your acupuncturist questions about anything and everything you want to know. You are starting the relationship with them and entrusting your health to them, ergo, you need to be totally at ease about all aspects of your treatment.
And, of course, enjoy acupuncture, this gem of a medicine model that will gently direct your body to do what it knows best-heal itself.
Photo credit: Bob Wong The Art of Acupuncture