What a Treatment Entails
The first treatment always begins with a detailed consultation. You will be asked questions which will make a diagnosis in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), even when a diagnosis has already been made according to conventional medicine. The reason for this is that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views the body differently than conventional medicine. The body is seen as one whole energy system and the root cause of the disorder is treated in addition to the symptoms. A disorder or condition is seen as a blockage in the flow of the energy, Qi, throughout pathways known as Channels or Meridians, and acupuncture aims to get rid of this blockage and restore you to full health.
The questions you will be asked relate to the condition itself (i.e., its onset, severity, whether acute or chronic, symptoms experienced, if anything makes it worse or improves it, if medication is being taken for it, etc.), as well as questions regarding your general health, your appetite and digestion, diet, lifestyle, sleep, family medical history and your own previous medical history.
Your tongue and pulse will also be checked. The tongue and pulse also provide information regarding the nature of the disorder, the state of the internal organs and the state of the body’s Qi (vital energy).
Once a TCM diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan will be decided. Acupuncture points from appropriate Channels will be selected to treat the blockage identified. These points may be in the area affected (“local” points) or further away from the affected area (“distal” points). You will then be asked to lie on a special acupuncture couch and acupuncture needles will be inserted into the acupuncture points chosen.
Acupuncture is not painful, contrary to what you may think! The needles are extremely fine and are nothing like syringe needles. You may experience a mild, tingling sensation or warm sensation known as ”deqi” from the very fine acupuncture needles; this is where the needle grasps the energy, Qi. The acupuncture needles are generally retained for 20 to 30 minutes. Other TCM treatments, such as moxibustion or cupping or electro-acupuncture may be used during the treatment, if appropriate. Throughout this time, you will be relaxing comfortably on the special acupuncture couch.
If the treatment is to be combined with Tui Na or cupping, this is generally done at the end of the acupuncture treatment. If Tui Na or cupping are being given as a treatment on their own (without acupuncture), the same consultation and diagnosis procedure is followed.
The benefit of a treatment may be experienced immediately or shortly after the treatment. Each patient and each condition responds differently to acupuncture; for example, chronic conditions generally take longer to benefit long-term from acupuncture than acute conditions. Therefore, subsequent treatments are usually recommended.
Here is some useful reading for before and after an acupuncture treatment:
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