Before having acupuncture treatment
Before your first acupuncture session there are several things you should bear in mind:

  • Many commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower arms and legs, so it is helpful to wear clothing that allows easy access to these areas.
  • The pulse at the wrist will be listened to for a few minutes prior to treatment. This is my main diagnostic tool.
  • The needles are retained for twenty minutes and the patient is usually left to relax during this period.
  • It is important to give Acupuncture a fair trial. Symptoms may not change immediately so I recommend you give it four to six sessions before deciding whether its for you. In more serious, or chronic conditions you may have to make monthly Acupuncture sessions part of your life for some time.
  • Acupuncture is holistic medicine which means it treats the body as a whole, it is common for the patient to get improvement to problems that are not getting treatment directly, so its always worth telling me about other problems you may have, even if they seem unrelated.

Your first consultation
During your first visit I will need to gain a thorough understanding of your main complaint and your general health and lifestyle. This involves asking questions about your current symptoms and your medical history, as well as such things as your sleeping pattern, your appetite and digestion, and your emotional wellbeing. Women may also asked about their menstrual cycle and any past pregnancies and childbirth.

You might feel that some questions appear unrelated to your condition but the information you give helps to form a more complete picture of your health and lifestyle.  As stated above I will also take your pulse on both wrists and may examine your tongue and feel for areas of muscular tension or pain.

Your main health complaint
When talking about your main complaint, you maybe asked to describe what the symptoms feel like and how severe they are. You may also be asked how long you have had the symptoms, whether they are constant or intermittent and how frequent they are. You should mention any medication that you are taking and whether you have tried any other therapies.

In order to make a diagnosis according to traditional Chinese medicine theory and to find the right treatment approach, I may also want to know more specific details.

Treatment plan and treatment
Based on all the information you have given, I will make a diagnosis and put together your treatment plan, which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture. Very fine single-use pre-sterilised needles are used to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians range across the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you experience symptoms. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand. During each treatment the weakest organ system is treated, this means the whole body is strengthened. The symptoms are not treated directly, the fact that the body becomes stronger naturally decreases the symptoms over time.

Techniques
As well as needling acupuncture points, other Chinese medicine techniques are used such as:

  • moxibustion: heat is applied to an acupuncture point or meridian using moxa (a therapeutic herb) and/or heat lamps to warm and relax muscles and Qi.
  • Acu-Silk: The use of silk to stimulate the Acupuncture points.

Lifestyle advice
I may suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment. This may involve making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care.

After-effects
Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel a little tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use heavy machinery straight after your treatment.

You should refrain from vigorous exercise after treatment and, ideally, give yourself a little time to rest.

Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting, such as occasional bruising which is generally painless and clears within a day or two.