Acupuncture is usually not painful but can produce strong sensations. I will explain what will happen before we begin, and respond to any specific concerns you might have. The needles used are as thin as a hair, and most people would describe the sensations as only slightly uncomfortable at times. The sensations that you may experience when the needle is in the right place vary with the individual and the point location itself. This may include tingling, a dull ache or sensation of weight. Many people find acupuncture deeply relaxing and its not uncommon to go to sleep. The most common side effect of acupuncture is feeling drowsy both during and for a short time afterwards. Less commonly, a minor bruise can be caused by needling.
It can take time to develop confidence in both having acupuncture and in trusting the person at the other end of a needle. This is one of the reasons I use the minimum number of points needed to produce the desired effect. At your first session we are both learning about how you respond to acupuncture,and it is important to me that you feel safe throughout, both for your comfort and to maximize the effect.
Your First Appointment
Acupuncture itself follows a comprehensive decision making process. When I meet a new patient we discuss current concerns, health background, lifestyle and how acupuncture may help. A diagnosis of the disharmonies underlying your condition is made after listening to your story, checking your pulse and tongue, examining areas of the body involved if necessary, and thinking about how these findings are linked. Appropriate goals and methods are selected to fit your diagnosis and constitution and discussed with you.
Needles are usually left in for about 20 minutes.
Acupuncture may also include the use of other TCM tools such as moxibustion, a heating herb used on the outside of the body to increase energy or reduce pain: cupping which involves glass cups which adhere to the skin after being briefly heated on the inside which help to reduce pain, or tui na Chinese medical massage.
There is usually also some discussion about how aspects of your life style might impact your wellbeing, and exploring positive changes that are practical and realistic.
When will you notice improvement?
I would expect a sense of improvement within a few sessions. Many people experience improvement in other areas first, before an easing of their main complaint. There may be a feeling of deep relaxation, better sleep and digestion, increase in energy and lifting of mood.