Initial consultation and treatment
During the first acupuncture session, the acupuncturist will assess your general health. As each treatment is unique to the individual, this will facilitate the most effective treatment for each.
The investigative process will include questions relating to your current symptoms, past treatments, patient and family medical history, diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional health. Also, the pulse on both wrists will be taken to determine how energies are flowing in the body. As part of the diagnosis, the acupuncturist will assess the structure, color and coating of your tongue.
During this comprehensive evaluation, the practitioner will observe your emotions, voice and self-presentation. This will further aid in the diagnosis and development of a treatment that will assist in harmonizing your overall energy.
Specific acupuncture points will be chosen and the practitioner begins treatment. The first session may last up to two hours. Subsequent treatments will last approximately one hour. Dietary and other recommendations will be discussed at appropriate times throughout the treatment process.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is the stimulation of Qi (pronounced “chee”) flow throughout the body through the insertion of thin stainless steel needles into specific sites on the body. Only single use, disposable, sterile needles are used. Needles are disposed of in a biohazard waste container for removal by a regulated biohazard waste service.
Acupressure: The use of fingers or other device to apply pressure to stimulate acupuncture points.
Cupping: Cups made of thick glass or plastic are placed over particular points on the body. A vacuum is created within the cup to draw the skin up. This process opens up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of Qi, breaks obstructions and creates a place for toxins in the body to be released. Found helpful in dealing with trigger points, contracted tissue and in some cases of edema.
Electro Acupuncture: Needles are inserted at specific points along the body. The needles are then attached to a device that generates continuous and gentle electric impulses. Proven to assist the overall effect of acupuncture especially with pain and paralysis.
Laser: Many Acupuncturists use laser in preference to needles to stimulate the energetic response.
Gua Sha: Also called “Scraping” involves firmly rubbing a person’s skin with the smooth edge of a ceramic spoon or special gua sha device. The spoon is placed against the pre-oiled skin surface, pressed down firmly and moved down the muscles or along the pathway of the acupuncture meridians along the surface of the skin. This causes rupture of the small sub-dermal capillaries (petechia) and may result in sub-cutaneous bruising, which may take several days to fade entirely. The purpose of Gua Sha is to release excesses in the body and stimulate healing. Helpful where injury has resulted in scarring and poor muscle movement in an area.
Moxibustion: Practitioners use moxa (made from the mugwort plant). Moxa is formed into a number of shapes; cone, stick, loose wool. The moxa is ignited to warm regions and acupuncture points, intending to stimulate circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of the body’s energies. Very helpful in chronic fatigue, weakness after long illness and fluid accumulation.
Tui-na: A combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of the body manipulation.
Nutrutional recommendations: Acupuncturists are trained in dietary management in accordance with Traditional Chinese Medicine principals. They are also schooled in the use of vitamins, minerals and common herbs.
Feel of Acupuncture:
One of the most common questions asked by first time acupuncture clients is, “Does it hurt?” Many people assume that acupuncture will be uncomfortable. Acupuncture needles are fine and thin, some being 25-50 times thinner than hypodermic needles, and virtually painless.
When asked to describe their experience, first time acupuncture clients describe the treatment as being pleasurable and relaxing. Most people fall asleep during treatment. Others feel as if they are floating with a tingling, warm sensation. Other sensations that may be felt are heaviness, heat and cold. By targeting specific points at the beginning of treatment, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body to release hormones such as endorphins, which induce the calming effect described by many clients.
Number of Treatments Recommended:
After an initial evaluation, a trial course of acupuncture is recommended. This usually consists of four to eight visits during a three or four week period. While individual cases vary, some improvement should b observed within this period. If satisfactory results are achieved, occasional follow-up visits may be required to maintain balance. Just as with other forms of treatment, it is possible that some patients may require long term care.
The number of treatments varies depending on patient condition and individual constitution. Chronic problems generally require more treatment than acute problems. Some patients notice an immediate improvement, while others may not notice any effect until the seventh or eighth visit. A small number of patients will experience a worsening of symptoms as the body’s energies are returning to normal, but his is usual and is followed quickly by improvement.
Coordination with Other Medical Treatments:
When acupuncture is used with other forms of medical treatment, it offsets some of the unpleasant side effects of western treatment, such as those seen with prescription medication, chemotherapy, radiation and steroid use. Many research studies have been done on the use of acupuncture with western medical treatments. It is important to let your medical doctor and your acupuncture know that you are receiving alternate medical treatments to ensure the best possible treatment program is formulated to restore and maintain balance.
There are usually no side effects to the treatment. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are re-balanced and stimulated, and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms may worsen for a few days. Other general changes in sleep, appetite, bowel, urination or emotional state by be triggered; however, these symptoms simply indicate that acupuncture is starting to work.
When performed by a professionally trained and licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture is a very safe treatment with minimal side effects. The possible, but very rare and unlikely critical risks include; puncture of vital organs. Other risks also rare include; fainting, infection and bruising. Your treatment risk profile will be explained by your acupuncturist.
Before, during and after Treatment
Visiting an acupuncturist for the first time can be an exhilarating experience. Acupuncture is very safe. It is understandable that hesitations can arise from the unexpected. To ensure your practitioner can make an accurate diagnosis, there are a few things to remember before arriving for your appointment.
- Choose a qualified practitioner.
- Complete a full course of treatment.
- Avoid brushing your teeth and tongue before treatment. Also, try not to consume beverages that may stain your tongue, such as coffee, gum and candies. A proper tongue diagnosis is very important as it leads to cues of possible imbalances.
- Remove all jewelry. This will help the acupuncture in administering treatment.
- Acupuncture usually lasts 20-30 minutes so it is important to use the bathroom prior to treatment.
- Be honest with your acupuncturists when answering questions. All answers are confidential and aide in the diagnosis and treatment.
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages before or after treatment
- It is Important to use caution when your treatment is finished as treatments may cause you to become slightly dizzy.
- After the treatment be sure to rest and relax for the remainder of the day. Do not participate in vigorous exercise and avoid direct exposure to wind and cold.
- Be prepared to see some slight bruises from treatment
- It is important to relax during your treatment. You will benefit most if you allow your mind and body to relax.
The College would like to acknowledge the students of the Silk Road Acupuncture Clinic at Eastern College for their contributions to the “Silk Road Pamphlet”, provided for use and amendment for this public information.