Because an acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment is tailored to the patient’s very specific pattern of functioning, when you come for your first session, your practitioner will do an in-depth assessment, including taking a complete health history. This should be quite thorough, looking not only at illnesses, but at such indicators of function as sleep, energy level, digestion, and many aspects of health. This includes details which might seem odd and unrelated to the health issue you came in for, but are actually very helpful in Chinese medicine to clarify diagnosis. This could be something seemly irrelevant like a tendency to sigh frequently, sweat only on your head, or maybe have hiccups after eating carrots, or feel very tired and bloated after eating. The practitioner will look closely at your tongue and pulse, as these are sources of detailed information in Chinese medicine. They may visually examine and/or palpate various of the acupuncture channels and head, hands and feet and may check your abdomen.
After this information is gathered and a treatment plan formulated, you will be asked to lay or sit down, and the needles will be inserted after gently massaging the chosen points. I like to use as few needles as possible, usually in the range of 4-10. It is best to wear loose comfortable clothing that allow lower arms and legs to be exposed, and clothing rarely needs to be removed.
With the style of needling I usually use, the area of pain, if there is one, is generally not needled. The needles will be left in from 25 minutes to one hour depending on the issue. Most people drift off to sleep, and wake up feeling deeply relaxed with a wonderful sense of well-being.
Does It Hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very different from hypodermic needles, being much thinner, not hollow, and with a much gentler tip. Often needles aren’t even felt, and when they are the sensation is generally more a dull achy feeling which subsides in a few seconds.