What to Expect During Your First Acupuncture Visit
By Anjalee Patel, LAc, DACM, Dipl. OM, PTA
So, you booked your first acupuncture appointment. Now what?
A lot of people are nervous when coming into an acupuncture appointment for the first time. Maybe because it’s a brand-new treatment for them? Or because it involves needles? Regardless of why, learning what to expect during your first visit will help you feel comfortable and at ease about receiving acupuncture.
After you’ve been checked in and taken to your room, your practitioner will start asking you A LOT of questions. She will do a very thorough intake that includes your family history and medical history; any emotional or traumatic experiences that you are willing to share; your digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular history or conditions; your stress levels; any pain that you may be experiencing; your temperature regulation (including sweat); urogenital conditions; your sleep patterns; your menstrual history (even if you are menopausal); and more.
Even if you are coming in for neck pain, your practitioner will ask questions about the whole body. Why? Because that is how she figures out what the ROOT of the issue is. Traditional Chinese Medicine excels because it assesses and treats the WHOLE person, not just the symptom.
After the inquiry, your practitioner will have you lay on the table face up so that she can feel your pulses. When Chinese Medicine refers to pulses, it doesn’t mean the rate of the pulse (although if it is noticeably faster or slower than average, your practitioner will take note of that). Rather, your practitioner will check the quality of the pulse in six different positions — three on each wrist. Each position tells her information about your Qi, or energy flow, fluids and blood according to each organ system channel (stomach, heart, etc.). Your practitioner will use this information in addition to what you have told her during the intake to create a customized treatment for you.
Now comes the fun part — the needling! Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, almost hair-like. They are stainless steel and are flexible. After the acupuncture points have been chosen, the practitioner will insert the needles into the points. Initially, it should feel like a mosquito bite. The feeling that comes next is only describable by you. Meaning that once the needle is past the superficial layer, you will start to experience a whole different feeling — the feeling of Qi flow. This feeling can be described as achy, dull, pulling, moving, heavy and more. The only word that it should not be described as is “SHARP!” In this case, tell your practitioner. She will take the needle out and will insert a new needle in or around that acupuncture point. Most likely, she may have hit a hair follicle.
After all the needles are inserted, it will be time for your body to rest. You will be able to rest for about 20-30 minutes on average to the sound of some meditative music or white noise. While you rest, you might start to feel some sensations throughout your body. These are great details to note in the back of your mind. Then let your practitioner know about them after your treatment. Your main job at this time, however, is to let your body rest.
Once 20-30 minutes have passed, your practitioner will come in, take out your needles and will ensure all of them are removed before you get off the table. You should feel an improvement over when you initially came into the clinic. At this point, your practitioner will start to close your session and will offer any educated advice or recommendations to help compliment what was worked on during your acupuncture treatment. You can ask any questions about the treatment itself or the treatment plan for the next few weeks. It also is a great idea to book another session with your practitioner so she can continue helping you heal.
After learning the details about what to expect during an acupuncture treatment, you can feel confident, calm and excited about your healing journey.
Schedule an Appointment
You can schedule an appointment today by calling ATOG at (630) 299-3464 or click here to schedule an appointment online.
Anjalee Patel, LAc, DACM, Dipl. OM, PTA, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, a Doctor of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and a Physical Therapist Assistant at A Touch of Ginger.