What does a typical acupuncture session like?

Before you begin your first session, you will need to fill out paperwork that is standard with any type of medical treatment. This consists of your health history but also takes into account your emotional state and your dietary habits.

After your paperwork has been filled out, you will have a detailed intake taken that is in addition to the paperwork you filled out. The acupuncturist is looking for things you may not be able know on your own like how loud or quiet your voice is or how you respond to touch. One part of getting the bigger picture involves palpation (touching), the acupuncturist may feel different areas of your body to get an idea of tenderness, nodules, painful sensations… You may be asked questions that seem very personal such as the quality of your bowel movements or the consistency of your periods- this is all very normal and is very helpful in acquiring a diagnosis to your condition. Usually at the end of the intake you will be asked to stick out and show your tongue. The tongue reveals valuable information as to the health of the interior of the body. And your pulse will be taken- also an important means for diagnosing your condition. After the intake is finished, you will get comfortable (sometimes this means taking off your belt or loosening your pants), you will most probably be asked to take your shoes off and perhaps your socks. You will then get on the table- either on your front side, back side, or perhaps you may lie on your side. The acupuncturist will make sure you are comfortable, then will go clean their hands.

Inserting the needles usually does not take very long after which you will then stay on the table so that you will have a chance to rest. Part of what helps the needles to work is that you are not being stimulated and that you are not moving your body around. So, the needles are placed in particular places and they tell the body what needs to be done in order to help your condition. Depending on the clinic and the practitioner, you may be left with a device to call them with (at Head to Sole Therapeutic Acupuncture Clinic, you are left with a simple bell that you can ring if you need anything and for your initial few visits, you will be checked on to see if everything is ok unless otherwise stated). At the end of the session (the time that you are left with needles can range anywhere between 15-45 minutes, this time depends on various factors that you may discuss with your practitioner beforehand) the practitioner will come and remove the needles. You will then have a chance to move around and see how you feel. Common feelings are numbness, tiredness, relaxation, tingling, heaviness, feelings as if the needles are still in. If there are any questions or comments, please let your practitioner know. The healing process is two-fold: one is your deciding to get well and taking charge of the process; two is your practitioner working with you to educate you on the best way to get well and guiding you there.

Most commonly, there will be a series of treatments suggested on your path to wellness. Your acupuncturist will give you a general guideline on how many treatments you may need and at how many intervals (for example: a suggested program will be 2 times a week for 3 weeks with a re-evaluation at the end of the 3 weeks). The suggested program will give you the best results so it is important that you are committed to following through.

Lori Earley