Acupuncture an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has become a respected form of complementary therapy in the Western world. Today it used to treat a variety of conditions, from infertility to back pain.
If you have thought about seeking acupuncture treatment, you might wonder exactly what to expect. Some people worry that the needles will be painful, while others are simply curious about what they see as an exotic form of health care. Here is what you can expect from your first acupuncture treatment.
Diagnosis and Personalized Treatment Plan
Your first visit is designed for you and your acupuncturist to get to know each other. You will be asked highly detailed questions, some of which may seem irrelevant to your presenting complaint. For example, you might wonder what stress has to do with back pain or what your menstrual cycle has to do with a shoulder injury. The answer is that traditional Chinese medicine is holistic. Acupuncturists treat the whole person, rather than a specific list of symptoms. Your answers to these questions, along with the results of basic diagnostics such as feeling your pulse, will guide your personalized treatment plan.
Your acupuncturist will describe your diagnosis and treatment plan in plain English rather than Eastern medical terms. You will also receive a prognosis, along with suggestions for lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. These may include advice on diet, exercise, and meditation.
Some acupuncturists perform the first treatment at the initial appointment, while others prefer to wait until the next appointment. Regardless of when it occurs, acupuncture treatment consists of inserting thin, flexible, sterile needles into three or more acupuncture points.
Acupuncture needles are just .14 mm to .30 mm wide and 15 mm to 75 mm long. They are inserted just 1 to 3 mm into the body at most points (slightly deeper in fleshy areas). Many people report that they do not feel the needles at all, while others feel a somewhat heavy sensation as energy begins to flow.
The needles are typically left in place for 10 to 45 minutes, though in some styles of acupuncture, the needles are quickly removed and then you are left to rest. If your acupuncturist needs to access both the front and back of your body, you will spend 10 to 45 minutes lying on your back and then turn over and repeat the process.
Number of Sessions
The number of acupuncture sessions you need depends on your individual health. Some conditions respond very quickly, with satisfactory results achieved in just one to three sessions. In general, though, you should expect about one month of treatments for each year you have had a particular medical problem.
Acupuncturists tend to use a variety of additional techniques to treat various health conditions. Herbal medicines, cupping, and moxibustion (burning herbs) are among the most common. Your acupuncturist will always explain any proposed treatment technique and give you the opportunity to refuse before implementing that technique.
Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Beverly Hills, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-927-2792 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.