For some, acupuncture can seem scary or intimidating, especially the needles part. However, most leave their first acupuncture treatment feeling relaxed and excited to come back. Here’s what to expect.
At your first visit, the acupuncturist will have you fill out some paper work, just like at a doctor’s appointment. But there may be some questions you’re not so used to being asked. Chinese medicine uses clues from the whole body to make a diagnosis. So don’t be surprised when they ask about bowel movements, eye floaters, or sleep even if you’re just coming in for back pain.
After filling out paperwork, the acupuncturist will take you back to a treatment room. The acupuncturist will likely ask you more questions about your main complaint and overall wellbeing. Then, they will look at your tongue and take your pulse to gain information about what’s going on inside of your body. Acupuncturists get a lot of information from feeling your pulse and looking at the tongue. The overall pulse quality, strength, and rhythm is felt to get a better understanding of what’s going on inside the body. The tongue shape, color, and ‘coat’ also provide information about the current state of your body.
After the intake, the acupuncturist will have you get comfortable on the table. Many times the clothes you’re wearing will be rolled up to provide access to acupuncture points, but sometimes the practitioner may have you change into a gown.
Next comes the actual acupuncture. The most important thing to realize is we use really, really, really small needles! Many have needle phobias thanks to traumatizing experiences at doctors’ offices. However, acupuncture needles are very different from those used at doctors’ offices. The width of an acupuncture needle is comparable to the width of a single strand of hair. Many sensitive patients don’t even feel them going in!
The acupuncturist will choose various points all over the body. Even if back pain is the primary concern, point on the hands and feet may be used. The number of points used varies by practitioner but will usually be around 10-15. Once all the needles are in, you’re usually left to relax and let the needles do their work for approximately 30 minutes. Then, the practitioner will return, remove the needles, and send you on your way.
Most feel the difference from acupuncture right away, most noticeably with increased relaxation. For pain conditions, a difference may be felt right away or it may take a few treatments to notice a change. Your acupuncturist will recommended a course of treatment to best target your needs. Expect to be pleasantly surprised with the results of acupuncture on not just your aches and pains but also your overall wellbeing.