How do you decide where to put the needles?
Points are selected after the practitioner has done a thorough intake with the patient and formulated a TCM diagnosis. A diagnosis is made after questioning patients about all aspects of their health, observing the tongue, and taking the pulse. In TCM, the tongue and pulse are unique indicators of a patient’s health. A practitioner can determine changes in a person’s well-being through regular observation of the tongue and pulse. Once a diagnosis is made, the practitioner will then determine which points will be most beneficial in restoring proper balance to the body.
Does it hurt?
Most people have a rational fear of needles, probably stemming from a painful encounter with a hypodermic needle. Acupuncture needles are very different; they are hair-thin and solid. The insertion is quick and often not felt. The needle is manipulated to create a sensation, which may range from warmth and heaviness to a tingly sensation. Quite the opposite of being a painful experience, the treatment makes most people feel very relaxed during and after the session.
How long does a treatment last and what does it involve?
The first visit takes longer than subsequent visits. During the initial visit, the acupuncturist will ask many detailed questions about the patient’s health, diet, emotions and lifestyle. You can expect to spend between 1 and 1.5 hours on the initial visit. Follow-up visits are between 45-60 minutes. Needles are retained in the body for about 25 minutes. In addition to needling, an acupuncturist may choose other modalities as well. Cupping therapy is used to create a strong suction over certain parts of the body, using glass or bamboo cups and heat. This is often employed to help relieve pain or muscle tightness, or to help relieve coughing or congestion caused by a cold. Moxibustion is the burning of a cigar-like stick made from an herb called mugwort. The stick is burned over certain acupuncture points (never actually touching the skin). This stimulates the points, adds heat to the body, and helps to increase immunity.
How many treatments will I need?
This, of course, depends on the patient and the condition. Generally, acute conditions respond more quickly to treatment than chronic conditions. In all cases, the sooner you treat a problem, the better. It is usually recommended that a patient receive treatments once or twice a week. Some conditions may be alleviated after only a couple treatments; others may take several months. It is very important to be consistent with your treatments, especially in the beginning. The more you receive acupuncture, the more sensitive your body will become to it, and the greater the benefits will be. Often, a patient will not feel very much during the first several treatments, and then they will suddenly begin to feel things “moving.. It is important to come in weekly during this time. Once the body begins to get back into balance, treatments can begin to scale back slowly as the body reaches the point where it can heal itself. After this point, a patient may come in for an occasional “tune-up,” to which the body often responds very quickly.