What happens in the first session is similar to what you may experience the first time you see a primary care physician. There is a basic question and answer intake where the acupuncturist begins to gather the information needed to better understand your symptoms and current state of well being.
What does acupuncture feel like? Many folks have of preconceived notions about what acupuncture is and isn’t. On the surface, it’s really very straight forward. A typical acupuncture session usually lasts an hour. However, the first visit is longer, usually about 90 minutes. There are some other differences as well. An acupuncturist will have extensive questioning about you current physical, mental and emotional state, there will also be questions about what you consume and questions about the excretion of waste. While the scatological talk may seem like the chatter of toddlers, acupuncturists think it’s actually clinically significant. In Chinese medicine the food a person eats and how it is processed and excreted from the body reflects the over all health and vitality of the person.
During an acupuncture intake there will be a full inquiry about a woman’s menses. In the same way acupuncturists ask a lot about the digestive track, we are very concerned about a women’s reproductive system.
In the first acupuncture session, after the intake, the acupuncturist will take a patient’s pulse and examine his or her tongue. With all the information collected, she will build a working hypothesis about what is going on in the patient’s body. Sometimes the conclusion is quite clear. For example, imagine a patient who has a bowel movement every 4 days. She hates he job and feels”stuck” there. . she gets her period every 32 days after a week of PMS including abdominal pain and emotional upset. It’s clear that this patient’s energy is stuck and the acupuncturist will use a number of acupoints to try to release it so that the symptoms will be alleviated.
This first acupuncture session is much shorter than the follow up visits but it does give the patient some relief.
During follow up appointments there is a lot less talking and much more time for treatment. In a follow up the acupuncturist will ask about a few symptoms and inquire if there are any changes. After looking at the tongue which is diagnostically significant and taking the pulse, the treatment will begin lasting about 45 minutes.
The part that is somewhat mysterious to many is how every aspect of our body relates to our overall well being, from the strength of our pulse to the tenderness of specifics points on our body. The job of the acupuncturist is to interpret all of this information and tailor a treatment that best suits the current state of being. More on this later.
I would love to hear your questions about acupuncture and any past experiences you’ve had with Chinese medicine. When you’re asked “What does acupuncture feel like?” what do you think of? Just leave a comment below and I will be sure to answer.