Is acupuncture right for you?
If you have muscular pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, physiological imbalances, stress, depression, PTSD, or just feel off for some reason then yes, acupuncture could be right for you. Acupuncture not only deals with these issues but so much more. How could that be, you ask? Ailments, and emotional issues come about due to imbalances in the body. We use acupuncture to rebalance the body so that it can heal itself. The body wants to be healthy, sometimes it just needs a nudge or reminder for how to get there. Usually, its best to combine acupuncture with a lifestyle adjustment so that the body doesn't quickly go out of balance again. For instance, if your foot hurts because you have been kicking a tree we can treat the foot pain with acupuncture but you have to stop kicking the tree or else your foot is going to start hurting again.
Acupuncture is a wonderful tool in conjunction with western medicine and can often treat those conditions that are not yet severe enough for western medical intervention. Post-operative acupuncture is also incredibly helpful in reducing pain and inflammation so that the intended effects of the operation can be fully realized. Bi-monthly acupuncture visits are also a great tool for those wanting to stay healthy long-term.
How to find the right practitioner.
What should you be looking for in an acupuncturist? It's a very important question. First, you should always check that a practitioner's license is in good standing. You can do so on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's (NCCAOM) website: www.nccaom.org.
If you're turning to acupuncture to treat a specific condition, mention it ahead of time to your practitioner and ask if they have specific experience treating that kind of issue.
You should also feel comfortable with your acupuncturist. Do they make you feel safe and heard? Are they listening to you? Are you connecting with them? If not, try a different practitioner. Ultimately your acupuncturist should be a an ally on your wellness team whether it is for short-term care or long-term wellness.
What should I expect from my treatment?
During your treatment you may feel subtle changes in your body. This happens more easily for people who are in-tune with their bodies but develops in others as they receive regular acupuncture. It's not necessary to feel your qi moving during the treatment for it to work but it is very cool.
Acupuncture treatments have a cumulative effect. If you come in with pain at a 10/10 we would like to see that decrease during your visit or within 3 days of your treatment. For optimal results we should treat that pain again before it reaches the pain level it was at before your previous appointment, so that we can reduce the pain even further. The same principle works for internal medicine issues and emotional imbalances.
Occasionally a patient may have miraculous results with a first treatment but this is rare and is usually a result of the cumulation of self-care they have been doing. For instance, if you have low back pain and have regularly been to the chiropractor and physical therapy and are now 70% better, it's possible that an acupuncture treatment can quickly get you to 90% - 100% better because you have created a good healing foundation.
How do I prepare for my appointment?
It's important to eat something small before your appointment. Acupuncture moves a lot of energy around in your body and having some fuel on board (food) provides energy to your body so that it can make the most of the treatment.
It's best not to have caffeine before your appointment. Acupuncture is meant to relieve stress in the body and to be relaxing. Caffeine can get in the way.
Try to wear loose fitting clothing to allow for easy access. If you are unable to do this we can provide a sheet.
If possible, avoid wearing scents like perfume of scented lotions to your treatment. Many patients come in for headaches and if there is a scent lingering in the room it can exacerbate their pain.
Lastly, be sure to use the bathroom before your treatment. You may be on the table relaxing for an hour.
Does it hurt?
It doesn't hurt. You will be surprised. The needles are very thin and flexible. It takes 24 acupuncture needles to fit inside the shaft of the hypodermic needle used to give shots. You may feel a zing occasionally and sometimes you won't even notice that a needle has been inserted. Once the needles are in you shouldn't feel them. Often your body will begin to feel really light and you will start to feel very relaxed as you drop into the healing zone. While the needles are in you can rest, take a nap, daydream. You will be given a buzzer in case you wish to reach your acupuncturist and they will check on your regularly.
The needles are sterile, one-time use and disposable.
What can I expect my treatment to be like?
Once you arrive you will be shown to your room. On your first visit you acupuncturist will go over your health history and get a clear picture about what you want to work on and what factors are contributing to the issue. They will check your pulse by using traditional Chinese pulse diagnoses techniques and will look at your tongue to assess the general health of your organs and meridians. They will then create a plan which may include acupuncture, herbs or one of the other modalities offered and will go over that plan with you. You will then lay on the table and your acupuncturist will insert 5-20 needles into the appropriate locations. After she assures you are comfortable you will be given a buzzer in case you need to reach her and she will lower the light and allow you to reset for 20-30 minutes. When she returns she may take these needles out and either add more or use an additional modality such as cupping or you may be done for the day. She will make sure you leave with a plan in place so that you can reach your intended goal.