The acupuncturist has a unique repertoire of methods for figuring out how to help you. Your first visit will probably take a bit longer than follow-ups, as you will be asked to provide information about your lifestyle and general state of health. You will be asked about your current symptoms, your medical history and that of close family, your diet and digestive habits, sleeping patterns and emotional state. To get an initial picture of how energies are flowing in the body, the acupuncturist will feel your pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. She will also examine your tongue; the structure, color and coating of it provide information about your physical and emotional health. The acupuncturist uses information gathered and everything she has observed during the interview and intake process to identify the underlying pattern of disharmony.
You will then be asked to lie down on a massage table and relax. The acupuncturist inserts fine needles (about the diameter of a hair) along meridians at specific points in order to stimulate the body’s healing response and restore natural balance. Needles may be inserted briefly and removed or left in for a period of time. Acupuncture needles are unlike those used in Western medicine and will cause little or no discomfort. There may be a slight sensation when the needle initially meets the acupuncture point, often described as a dull ache, feeling of heaviness or tingling. This sensation quickly fades, bringing a feeling of comfort and relaxation.
After your initial session, the acupuncturist will engage your partnership in implementing a treatment plan. She may ask you to return on a weekly basis until positive change is well underway. She may prescribe an herbal formula for you to take and send you off with very specific instructions for diet, exercise or other activities that may seem to have no bearing on your original complaint. One thing is certain: your treatment is yours alone. It has been customized for you and for your particular concerns. Compliance with the individualized treatment plan will enhance and further your healing progress. When progress becomes apparent, the acupuncturist may not need to see you as frequently and will modify your appointment schedule. Transforming your environment, your diet, your activities or your attitude even slightly can have a dramatic impact on your health! Your body knows what to do; help it remember.