What to Expect
Your first visit will begin with an in depth assessment of your condition and an initial treatment. The intake and treatment my take up to 1 1/2 hours. Typical treatments afterwards last approximately 45 minutes.
During the assessment I may ask you about some things that you might not think are connected to your chief complaint, for example, your emotions, sleeping patterns, and eating habits. Chinese medicine considers the whole person, not just one isolated symptom. When put together, the myriad of symptoms and signs you are experiencing reveal patterns of disharmony. Although treatment will focus on your chief complaint, your whole being must be considered in order to develop the most appropriate course. Chinese medicine is unique in that it appreciates that illnesses may be identical, but the persons suffering from them are individuals.
Pulse and Tongue Diagnosis
As part of your intake, viewing your tongue and feeling you pulse can provide a Chinese Medical practitioner with a great deal of information about your body to help guide the treatment.
My needling technique is very gentle, and my clients usually do not feel anything more than sense of a small "mosquito bite", which disappears in moments. Although people experience different levels of sensitivity, I work very closely with you to make sure your experience is comfortable and positive.
My approach is always to use the fewest needles possible to achieve therapeutic results. With acupuncture, more needles does not always mean better results, but accurate selection of specific acupuncture points and placement are really the keys giving a excellent treatment.
Needles are typically retained for about 20 minutes. I often play soothing music to help you relax during this time. Many people even fall asleep.
Results of Treatment
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours or even develop after 1 to 3 days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment. OR, relief may last from the first treatment until your next visit. It is important to recognize that we are all individuals. Individual response to treatment varies.
Side effects are rare but may include the following symptoms: light-headed feeling, dizziness, sleepiness, euphoria, nausea, slight bruising, residual muscle aching. Any of these should last only a very short time. It is helpful to take a short nap after acupuncture. To help reduce the risk of side effects, please read the section entitled Preparing for a Visit.
On rare occasions one's original symptoms may breifly get worse or 'flare-up' after a treatment. A flare-up typically occurs later on the day of your treatment and only for an hour or so and then improvement and relief follow. If the flare-up lasts longer than this, please call me and let me know. In the long run, acupuncture does not make symptoms worse.
In some conditions, the body must fully expel a pathogen in order for healing to occur. For example, if you have gave a cold, acupuncture will not get rid of the cold, but can help accelerate the cold cycle so your body gets healthy sooner. If you are fatigued and starting to get a cold, acupuncture may help your body ward it off. There are also some terrific herbal formulas for this.
In cases of chronic pain, your original pain may improve and then unmask other less obvious pain in the surrounding area. Please report what happened when you return so I can modify your treatment accordingly. I will also be interested in any change in your use of pain-killer medications as a result of treatment. Please be advised that changes in prescription medication require prior approval and strict monitoring by your family physician.
Course of Treatment
As part of your first visit, I will discuss with a proposed course of treatment. Since individuals vary, it is difficult to state definitively at the time of your first visit how many treatments will be required. In general, acute conditions of recent onset may only require 2 or 3 treatments. Chronic conditions usually require more treatments to achieve sustained results. With chronic conditions I usually recommend an initial course of 3-5 treatments in order to make a better assessment of whether or not acupuncture will help the condition. Most people begin to experience results within the first two treatments. If there has been no response to the acupuncture after 4 - 6 treatments, acupuncture will likely not work and other approaches should be considered.
The ideal approach to illness is to begin treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to treat. For longstanding illnesses, weekly treatments may be required for several months in order to have a curative effect.
Once you initiate a healing process, it is important to follow through on treatments. The more consistent you are, the better the likelihood of results. The effects of acupuncture tend to be cumulative. After you are feeling better, I will likely recommend an additional few treatments. In Chinese medicine, this is referred to as "solidifying the constitution." The goal is to further strengthen your body to prevent recurrence of the illness. Once they are feeling better, many people find it difficult to follow through with even just a couple treatments. Healing requires a lot of energy. Your body is most vulnerable following recovery from illness because it has expended much of its energy and internal resources in order to get better. It is therefore important to have a few treatments in order to prevent repeated or new illness. In general, when an illness recurs it is often more difficult to treat.