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10 Things to Know Before Your Acupuncture Session

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is becoming more mainstream as an alternative or complementary therapy to western medicine and many first time patients do not know what to expect at their first visit. Knowing up front what to expect at your first acupuncture appointment can both ease your mind and bring up questions to pose early on so that there are no surprises. There are various styles of acupuncture available and wide variety of techniques employed by Licensed Acupuncturist and each acupuncturists will have different treatment strategies, but here are some of the most common tips to know.

1. Acupuncture does not treat only pain
Feeling sick? Don't cancel your appointment with your acupuncturist. Acupuncture can treat beyond pain conditions and according to the World Health Organization, acupuncture can be use to treat a wide variety of disorders such as common cold, stomach viruses, mental and emotional stress, cancer, skin diseases, neurological disorders, dentistry, infections, childbirth, and gout to name a few. See "Services" page for more disorders.

2. Don't arrive on an empty stomach
A full stomach isn’t necessary but at least a snack will help the body have to enough energy to receive full treatment outcome. Receiving acupuncture on an empty stomach may lead to light headedness, dizziness or even fainting.

3. Wear or bring loose clothing

You may not need to remove your clothes like you would for a massage but wearing loose clothing so that sleeves can be rolled up above the elbows and pant legs can be pulled up above the knees will be helpful or an acupuncturist may have you wear a patient gown. With proper draping, an acupuncturist will strategically drape you to expose a portion of your body to gain access during the treatment.

4. You will be asked to show your tongue, have your pulse taken and have your abdomen pressed

Looking at your tongue and taking your pulse will tell a lot about your current state of of health internally and externally. Abdominal palpation is almost always done to assess digestive issues or for other problems that a patient may be complaining of. In addition to abdominal palpation, an acupuncturist will palpate other areas of your body along the acupuncture meridian, skin and/or muscle areas to assess abnormal changes in the body. This helps to determine the location and changes in your body.

5. Expect embarrassing questions
In addition to physical examination, you will be asked questions about various topics regarding your health and lifestyle. These questions will include asking for detailed descriptions of your bowel movements, urination, and menstruation for women. The more details you're able to give, the better for accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

6. Acupuncture needles are much thinner than hypodermic needles

Don't get turned of by the word "needle". Acupuncture needles are flexible and filiform meaning they are solid and extremely fine which is about two to three hair strands thick. The needles are made from surgical grade stainless steel which helps to reduce pain and often, most patients don't feel the needle being inserted.

7. Acupuncturists don't reuse needles

Acupuncture needles are sterile and single used only.

8. Acupuncturists use more than needles

Acupuncture needles are the main treatment tool for an acupuncturist. However, acupuncture is one of many modalities under Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). An acupuncturist may incorporate other TCM modalites such as tuina (asian bodywork therapy), cupping, moxibustion (moxa), gua sha (scraping of the skin), acupressure and provide recommendation in herbal medicine, TCM nutrition, and/or mind/body exercise (tai chi or qigong) to further improve health condition.

9. One treatment is often not enough to alleviate what ails you

Follow-up treatments will most likely be recommended. Some insurance plans have added acupuncture to their list of services, so check with your insurance provider if acupuncture is something they reimburse. Most acupuncturists can provide you with a bill to submit to your insurance carrier so you can get reimbursement.


10. Speak up

Don't hesitate to let the acupuncturist know if there is ever anything that is even mildly uncomfortable physically or otherwise during your treatment. Acupuncture is supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing, so if your treatment is anything but that let your acupuncturist know so that the situation can be corrected.

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