What should I expect from an acupuncture session?
One of the most common reasons I hear as to why people have never considered acupuncture treatment is that they’re nervous around needles and worried that their treatment will be painful.
And those people don’t always seem to be very keen to believe me when I tell them that acupuncture is not only painless, it’s also so relaxing that many of my patients actually fall asleep during treatment (something I always take as a great compliment!)
I get it. The chances are that all our encounters with a needle during our life have involved some degree of pain, but performed properly, no one should ever feel pain during acupuncture. You may experience a sensation of weight, warmth or tingling where the needle is inserted.
If you’ve never considered having acupuncture or you’re thinking about it but are nervous about what to expect, here’s our guide to your first session.
Expect to be made to feel truly welcome
First and foremost, our job is to look after you and make you feel safe, so our priority is to make sure you’re comfortable. That means we listen intently to what you have to say to us so that we can properly understand why you’ve made your appointment and what you’re hoping to get out of it.
Expect to fill out a health questionnaire (prior to your first session)
In order to treat you properly and safely, we need to know your medical history, as that may influence the decisions we make together about the treatment that’s best for you.
Expect lots of questions – often about things that might seem unrelated to whatever has brought you to see us in the first place
As with any health and wellbeing practitioner, we need to know as much about your health as possible. So, as well as exploring in more detail the issue that prompted you to make your appointment and your previous medical history, we’ll also want to know more about any medication you may be taking.
Those are the obvious things, but we may also ask you questions that may seem totally unrelated to anything you’re currently experiencing or may have experienced in the past.
None of these questions are intended to make you feel uncomfortable, but by answering them honestly, you’ll help us to identify and deliver the treatment that’s right for you.
Some of the questions may relate to the quality of your sleep, your digestive health, your relationships, mental health, urinary function or emotional wellbeing.
The reason why you may be asked apparently ‘random’ questions is that Traditional Chinese Medicine is founded on the principle that the way in which physical symptoms manifest themselves may have their origin in an energetic imbalance elsewhere in the body.
So, for example, if you have a debilitating allergy, it may be that the cause is a digestive issue; if you’re experiencing headaches, the source of the problem could lie in the energetic imbalance in the liver organ, and so on.
Expect to have your pulse taken and your tongue looked at
The pulse is the central key to acupuncture because it is an overall indicator of your general health. We take your pulse on both left and right wrist. Only taking the pulse on one wrist doesn’t give us the same insight into your health.
We also ask to see your tongue. In traditional medicine, the tongue is also a barometer of your overall health. Every part of your tongue relates to another part of your body, so its colour, body and shape can tell us a lot about where any problems might be.
Although it might be tempting out of a sense of courtesy to brush your tongue before you come to see us, please don’t – doing so may mask some important information.
Expect to feel emotional
Many patients feel an extreme emotional reaction – people can be weepy, overjoyed, prone to hysterical laughter or another form of expression. Whatever you feel, we’ve seen it in many other people before.
Expect to be still
When we insert the needles – and to repeat, this is painless – you’ll need to be still. This isn’t for any other reason than to ensure your movement doesn’t put pressure on the needles themselves, as this may cause mild discomfort.
Expect to discuss your treatment once it’s complete
We’ll talk to you about what we’ve discovered and what we believe the right next steps are, and because the effects of acupuncture are accumulative we’ll suggest you return for a follow-up appointment.
Expect to give yourself time to relax
Acupuncture has different effects on different people, but you may feel super-relaxed and ‘spacey’ following your treatment. Try to avoid rushing back to a busy or stressful job and perhaps give yourself time to be mindful somewhere before you head back into normal life.
If you’d like to know more about acupuncture and how it can be of benefit, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?