The initial treatment involves in-depth diagnosis; taking your medical history and questions about your health and lifestyle. It will last approximately 1 hour. Often what may seem irrelevant to you can give the acupuncturist valuable information about how best to treat you i.e. whether an aching joint is better with rest or use or a muscular strain feels better with heat or cold applied to it.
Traditional Chinese Medical diagnosis involves taking the pulses as Anna is doing above. There are 12 different pulses, 6 on each wrist, representing all the major organs. These can be described in 28 different ways and give upto-the-minute information on the patients state of health. This provides valuable information as part of the diagnosis.
Tongue diagnosis provides much useful information as part of the overall diagnostic picture. Anna looks at the tongue body assessing its colour, size (i.e. shape, length), moisture level, cracks and the tongue coat: colour, distribution of the coating, thickness and much more.
In addition to the diagnosis at the first treatment you will also receive some acupuncture treatment. Very often this may be what is called an “Aggressive Energy Drain” (AE Drain) which clears toxicity that’s present in the body; this prepares the ground for future treatments to work as effectively as possible. An AE Drain involves very shallow insertion of needles into acupuncture points on the back; if the skin turns red around the base of the needle this indicates toxicity and the needles remain until the redness clears. “Check needles” are also used to ensure it’s not just your skin’s sensitivity that causes the redness.
Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine making their insertion very easy and comfortable for the patient. There are various techniques used to manipulate the “Qi” (vital energy) so sometimes a needle may be left in for upto 20 minutes whilst others may removed immediately after insertion. Generally the fewer needles used the more powerful the treatment and this relies on a good diagnosis to identify the root cause of any imbalance.
Follow-ups will last approximately 45-50 minutes and, as well as acupuncture, may involve “cupping”, “Moxabustion” or “Guasha” (see “About Acupuncture” page).
“Cupping” … a glass cup is “attached” to the body by creating suction using a flame. It’s completely pain free and can be a very pleasant feeling. Cupping is used for musculo-skeletal problems and what is described in Traditional Chinese Medicine as “Channel” problems.
WHAT TO DO AFTER TREATMENT
It’s best to take it easy after an acupuncture treatment, this allows the treatment to settle in and you may not feel like doing very much. It’s advised not to have alcohol for 24 hours after treatment. If you feel sleepy and if practical it’s best to do what your body tells you and have a nap. However, you can also feel quite energised after a treatment but it’s still best to take it easy for a few hours after the treatment.
Lifestyle advice may be given if appropriate such as Qi Gong (Tai Qi) exercises, getting more sleep or dietary advice. Dietary advice is given from a Chinese perspective i.e. if you have excess internal heat then cooling foods may be recommended such as cucumber. This advice will enhance your acupuncture treatment.
FREQUENCY OF TREATMENT
Generally, I see patients once a week for about 6 weeks, but each individual is continually assessed as treatment progresses to establish the optimum number of treatments and treatment frequency. If sypmtoms start to clear before the 6 weeks is up then we spread treatments out sooner until the symptoms have cleared completely. Often after the initial more intense period of treatment, patients will have a ‘maintenance’ treatment once a month or every 6 to 12 weeks. Everyone is unique so treatment is adapted to each individual’s needs.
HOW YOU MAY FEEL AFTER TREATMENT
Generally patients feel very relaxed during and after treatment, often falling asleep whilst the needles are in. After treatment you will feel very calm and relaxed.