What Should I Expect in My First Treatment?
Your first acupuncture appointment will usually last about 90 minutes. We will begin with an in-depth conversation about your health concerns, past health history, lifestyle, goals for treatment, and any questions you may have about Chinese medicine and the treatment process. This conversation is an important part of the diagnostic process, and allows Carolyn to get to know you and understand how best to address your health concerns.
Depending upon your specific health concerns, Carolyn may use aspects of physical examination, most often palpation (examination by touch) to help understand your condition. For example if you experience shoulder pain, your acupuncturist will palpate your shoulders and back to understand the location and nature of your pain. Carolyn may also palpate along the energy channels in your body in order to select the most effective acupuncture points for your treatment.
Carolyn may also look at your tongue—the structure, color, and coating of your tongue provides information about your physical health. She may also spend some time feeling your pulse. Chinese medical pulse palpation is different than western medical pulse-taking (which focuses almost exclusively on the heart rate). Your pulse will be palpated in six different positions—three on each wrist. Each position provides information about different aspects of your health and the causes for your symptoms.
A treatment will follow the diagnostic process. If possible, please try to wear comfortable clothing for your appointment. Depending on your treatment needs, you may often remain fully clothed during your treatment. However, linens are always available if you would prefer to partially disrobe or if your treatment makes partial disrobing appropriate.
Please eat sensibly (avoiding caffeine) a few hours before your appointment. It is best to be neither hungry nor extremely full during your treatment.
Treatments can vary greatly, depending upon your individual needs and considerations. In addition to acupuncture, your treatment may include cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, tui na, and electrical needle stimulation.
Once acupuncture needles have been inserted into appropriate points in your body, Carolyn will usually leave you to relax in your serene treatment room for up to 30 minutes, allowing the needles sufficient time to influence your body’s Qi. Most people look forward to this opportunity to relax during an otherwise hectic day and generally feel refreshed afterwards.
Follow-up visits typically last 45 minutes up to one hour. Follow-up visits will begin with a conversation, a physical examination, and perhaps a tongue and pulse palpation, focusing primarily on progress and changes in your condition as well as any new concerns.
Your individual needs determine how often, and for how long, you will need to receive treatment (generally given once, occasionally twice, a week). as your condition improves, and your symptoms are alleviated, the frequency of your treatments may be slowly reduced – to every other week, monthly or even seasonally.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed varies from individual to individual and depending on the condition. Typically, more acute problems will show improvement within only a few treatments whereas more chronic or longstanding illnesses will require one to two treatments for several weeks. Most often, Carolyn will ask you to commit to a minimum of four treatments to start.
Will it Hurt?
Carolyn uses high grade surgical steel needles to stimulate acupoints on the body. These needles are extremely fine. The needles are sterile and used once only. The sensation caused by Acupuncture varies from patient to patient. Some people feel minimal discomfort as the needle is inserted while the majority of patients feel nothing at all. Once the needles are in place and no pain or discomfort is felt, most patients find the treatment extremely relaxing and enjoyable.
Do I have any coverage?
Many extended health plans have an allowance for acupuncture treatment, the amount of coverage varies depending on your specific plan. It is also possible to obtain coverage through WCB, ICBC, DVA, and MSP. If you are unsure of your access to coverage, contact your extended health provider to ask if you have acupuncture coverage and in what amount.