Your First Acupuncture Session – What to expect
Acupuncture treatment can be a mysterious concept to many of us in the Western World. This ancient therapy has been used for thousands of years as both a tool to address a wide range of health concerns, and as a useful component in a healthy lifestyle regime. Here I will explain the first visit, and hopefully clear some of the mystery surrounding the process.
Your First Visit
Coming in for treatment for the first time, you will be asked to fill out the clinic intake forms. You will fill in your personal information, indicate the primary reason for your visit, and answer some general questions about your health. Next, you will be brought in to one of our comfortable treatment rooms for your initial consultation and treatment.
The initial consultation is an in-depth question conversation with your practitioner, and will cover more intricate details about your primary health concerns, and state of your health as a whole.
The practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is a holistic form of therapy, where the mind and body are viewed as a whole. As such, any particulars about this delicate balance of systems can provide insight to underlying patterns of disharmony that may be generating or contributing to your health concerns. This attention to the “whole picture” is one of the reasons why acupuncture is applicable to such a wide range of conditions!
Next, the practitioner may take a look at your tongue and feel your pulse, which are two traditional diagnostic techniques that will help complete your health picture. With all of this information together, the practitioner forms a diagnosis and determines a course of treatment. In this manner, your treatment is unique and customized to you as an individual.
Treatment may consist of a single therapy (such as acupuncture), or a combination of a few of the therapies employed by the practitioner (such as cupping, moxabustion, electronic point stimulation, or herbal therapy).
Acupuncture needles are nothing like your conventional hypodermic needle! Indeed they are sterile, single-use disposable instruments made of surgical grade steel, but they are generally not much thicker than an eyebrow hair. They are also solid (rather than hollow), and quite flexible (can be bent and curled with the fingers). Often the insertion is barely noticed, if noticed at all.
The needles are placed in specific points on the body according to your treatment plan. During needle placement, you may be asked to provide some feedback to help ensure that the needles have their optimum placement, and you have your optimum level of comfort.
When all the needles are in place, you may be aware of some sensations around the needles, or you may not feel them at all. These sensations are different for everyone, but the general overall feeling should be one of deep relaxation. The practitioner may manipulate the needles gently to enhance desired effects, but please note that none of this is meant to be painful.
After your comfort is assured, the needles will be left in for a period of about 15-30 minutes. It is important that you are able to relax as much as possible during your treatment. Heat and blankets can be applied to keep you cosy and warm, and dim lights and soothing music can help soothe the senses and allow you to fully unwind. If you like, you can practice some gentle breathing or meditation, and add some personal inner visualization to your treatment. Enjoy your “you time”!
Reg. Acupuncturist & Reg. Chinese herbalist
at Healing Cedar Wellness
How Many Acupuncture Treatments Do I Need?
Predicting your body’s response to acupuncture before treatment is virtually impossible. There are many biological factors at play, and end results can be dependent on your own health goals, and your effort in pursuing them.
Things to consider:
1. Your age and initial state of health – these factors will impact the pace for your treatment response. A younger person in good health will almost always respond quicker to treatment than an older person in poor health.
2. Specifics of your health concern - Is it a relatively new and acute condition? Or is this a chronic condition which you have suffered with for a long time? Generally, the longer your body has been in a state of disharmony, the more treatments are needed to achieve a more balanced state.
3. Your health goals, and your diligence in pursuing them – If you are being treated for a specific health concern, are you willing and able to avoid conditions that contributed to the problem in the first place? Will you attend regular treatments, and follow lifestyle advice that your practitioner suggests for you? Progress will always be quicker when you adhere to your schedule of appointments, and implement the diet and lifestyle changes that will help you on your road to better health.
On average, most people will notice a clear positive change in their condition within the first 3-4 acupuncture treatments, and certain acute conditions may resolve completely within this time. It is generally easier to provide an estimated length of treatment after observing response to the first two treatments.
To provide examples:
A relatively straight-forward complaint, such as a simple musculoskeletal issue, can often be adequately addressed in 6-10 treatments. The occasional maintenance treatment may be recommended afterwards to help prevent re-occurrence.
Treatment for more internal problems, such as chronic recurring migraines, often requires longer courses of treatment. These are usually divided into phases of acute, convalescent, and maintenance care.
The acute care phase involves frequent treatments (2-3 times per week) for the first few weeks to manage severe symptoms. Treatments decrease to once a week in the convalescent care phase, as focus shifts to address root causes, while still managing symptoms. As the situation continues to improve, treatment can move to the maintenance care phase, where biweekly or even monthly treatments provide ongoing support for condition management and symptom prevention.
Acupuncture as part of your healthy lifestyle
Many people find they benefit from acupuncture as an integral part of their health and wellness regime, and come for regular, routine, acupuncture treatment. This may be a weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even only a quarterly practice. These treatment sessions are focused on health maintenance or symptom prevention, as well as providing general relaxation and stress relief.
The importance of minimizing stress in our lives cannot be stressed enough, so if acupuncture is something that you find enjoyable and relaxing, then integrating it into your regular routine might be something you want to try!
Reg. Acupuncturist & Reg. Chinese herbalist
at Healing Cedar Wellness