The Acupuncture Experience
Before - Preparing for Your Appointment
It really isn't necessary to do much before you come in. Treatments are more effective if you are neither too hungry nor too full so it is good to eat something light an hour or two before, especially if your appointment is in the morning. The same goes for hydration. I would recommend that you wear loose clothing to your appointment. This way the acupuncture points can be easily accessed and you can usually remain mostly clothed. It is advisable to avoid doing anything physically strenuous on the day of your appointment, either before or after, especially when seeking treatment for pain. In addition, doing things like going to bed at a reasonable hour, eating well, avoiding intoxicants, staying hydrated, and generally taking it easy can all help enhance the effects of your treatment.
During - What It's Like
I conduct focused, one-on-one sessions vs. working with multiple individuals in the same room because it allows access to all of the acupuncture points, privacy for massage, and a space for deeper rest and relaxation. My treatment rooms are completely private, with low lighting and soft music. I use a standard massage table and only require you to disrobe when necessary, keeping my space warm enough so that you don't get chilled, with extra blankets and an infrared heat lamp if you need it. Because they are so small and thin, most people only feel a small tap when the needles first go in. Sometimes, the needle may hit a small nerve ending on the very surface of the skin, resulting in a quick, tiny pinch, similar to a mosquito bite. Occasionally there may be a small reflexive twitch, but that is very uncommon. Once the needles are in they often seem to disappear as if they are not there any more, though some may feel a gentle tingling or other mild sensation like heaviness, numbness, pressure, itching, or warmth. I usually choose about fifteen points and the needles stay in for about 30 minutes. Once they are in I leave the room so you can rest. Most people get extremely relaxed during this time, and many even fall asleep. Others describe a gentle sensation of floating or rocking, or compare it to the sense of calm and peacefulness that they experience when meditating; it is an excellent way to decompress and empty your mind. After I take the needles out I may suggest herbal medicine or nutrition, or I may include some massage. I find this comprehensive approach to be most effective, allowing me to address a wider range of conditions, so I provide all of these additional services for my patients at no extra charge.
After - What to Expect
Just like most other types of medical treatments, there is a wide range of ways in which people respond to acupuncture. In my experience, the vast majority of people gain notable relief of their symptoms with no negative side effects. After the initial session the main thing most people feel is a deep sense of relaxation, no matter what they came in for. Beyond that, the effects really depend more on what the goal of the treatment was. With pain, there is typically some degree of immediate relief with more over the next 24 to 48 hours. Occasionally there will be some soreness after the treatment as things open, but then symptoms will noticeably improve. If the pain has only been present a few days or weeks, usually just a few treatments will make a dramatic difference. With other types of conditions, especially chronic ones that have been present for months or years, a deeper shift is required so symptoms change more gradually over a longer period of time. Factors that influence how individuals respond to the treatments include age, general health, genetics, and compliance with taking herbs and making nutrition and lifestyle changes. In a typical course of treatment for a chronic condition we will do a few weekly sessions and then a few every other week, though the process of healing can unfold in very individualized ways. The effect of builds as you go, getting stronger and lasting longer with each additional treatment. For wellness and prevention, most patients come about once a month. For those who are seeking palliative care like pain management, some keep things in check by coming at regular intervals, while others only come in when symptoms flare up.