You might be thinking about making an appointment at an acupuncture clinic. Many people consider this for various symptoms; some common ones being persistent pain, stress-related symptoms, or other problems such as weight loss. In China, many people use their acupuncture visits as a periodic tune up in order to stay healthy. Chinese acupuncturists sometimes get paid as long as their client is healthy, rather than when their clients have symptoms. So, let us take a tour of a modern American acupuncture clinic to see what it is like.
A typical clinic looks like any professional office, and you will be shown into a room where you are comfortably seated in a chair. The acupuncture practitioner comes in and begins the diagnosis. There are two major parts to the diagnosis, physical observation and a discussion of your symptoms and environment. A basic physical observation will include taking your pulse and observing your tongue. Unlike a traditional doctor’s office, your pulse is taken on both wrists, and at several points on each wrist. Your pulse is taken both near the surface of your wrist and also more deeply below the surface. These observations will be written down and used together with the discussion with the practitioner.
You should think about a number of things to discuss at your first acupuncture visit. If you are coming in for a particular symptom or set of symptoms, this should be a major part of the discussion. Think about several different aspects of your symptoms. Let’s say that you have persistent pain in your ankle, to use one example. The pain may not be constant during the entire day; it may ebb and wane depending on the hours of the day. The pain may increase or decrease due to certain activities, and you should observe these as much as possible. You might think that walking would certainly increase the pain, but sometimes walking is not as much of a problem as persistent standing, for example, as a cashier in a grocery store. Also, the pain might change depending on the times of the month, and that should also be mentioned to the acupuncture practitioner. Cause and effect, if any, is also important to report. Some things to consider if stress is a component, for possibly the pain started or increased when you got a new supervisor at work. Notice that a diagnosis for an acupuncture visit includes physical, emotional, social, and mental components to the diagnosis. So come to the acupuncture office armed with as much information as you can gather about the reason you are coming.
Once you and the acupuncture practitioner get through the initial diagnosis, some time is taken to construct a plan of treatments. Depending on the particular symptom that you have, and the other personal information that was taken in the initial diagnosis, your first treatment might be this same day, or you may be asked to return on a different day to start your treatments. The time of day and the particular days for acupuncture treatments are carefully selected in order to achieve the best result possible.
If you do have an initial treatment, it will be painless, and generally takes less than an hour, sometimes much less than that. The acupuncture practitioner will insert very slim needles at specific locations, which will remain for the number of minutes needed for your particular symptoms. When the needles are still you are not even aware of them. Inserting and removing needles is also pain free, rarely there may be a slight twinge, but not more than that. During your treatment you may feel more relaxed, a buzz of energy, slightly warmer at the needle insertion points, or exactly the same as when you came in. However, the needles are doing their work to regulate and rebalance the circulation in your body. So enjoy your first visit, and know that each visit brings you closer to your optimal health.