What happens when I come for a treatment?
The first acupuncture appointment is longer than follow-ups (Tui Na is always 1 hr) because a comprehensive consultation is done, which includes your current symptoms, past treatments, medical history, and general questions about your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. Your tongue is looked at and the pulses on both wrists are felt. Depending on what type of problem you’re experiencing, there is usually some physical assessment for tender areas or range of mobility. You might be surprised that the acupuncture points used are not always near the part of the body experiencing the problem. For example, with headaches & migraines, needles are often placed in the hands and feet.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Usually, when people think of needles they visualize the kind that are used for inoculations or having a blood sample taken.
Acupuncture needles are very different. While they do come in a variety of thicknesses, all are much, much finer than those used in the doctor’s surgery – some, no thicker than a human hair. As you can see from this enlarged photo, three medium gauge acupuncture needles fit comfortably inside the bore of a typical flu jab needle and the ones used for facial rejuvenation treatments are half as thin again.
Depending on where the needle is being placed, you may initially feel a slight prick (although many people report feeling nothing at all), followed by a tingling sensation, a dull ache or a feeling of energy moving through the body. In TCM style acupuncture, it is considered important for patients to feel something, so I welcome feedback during treatment; it’s always very satisfying to hear patients describe sensations which correspond to the classical meridian pathways. If anything feels too uncomfortable, the needle can be easily and quickly adjusted.
What should I do before a treatment?
Try not to have a large meal less than an hour before your appointment, as the digestive process will affect the reading of your pulse and you may need to lie on your stomach. Do not drink alcohol/use recreational drugs on the day of your treatment as this will disrupt the flow of your energy. Also, try to avoid food or drink that can stain your tongue such as coffee or strong tea. It is best to wear loose-fitting clothes that can comfortably expose the arms and legs from the knees and elbows down; other areas that are commonly used are the head, back and lower abdomen.
How many sessions will I need?
Overall treatment time is dependent on many factors such as the nature and severity of your complaint, how long you’ve had it, your age, your general health, your lifestyle and how much you are willing to do to assist the healing process. Usually, the effects of acupuncture are cumulative, with a build up of effects as treatment progresses; however, acute conditions can see remarkable improvements after one or two sessions. Some people are more receptive to acupuncture, while others with long term chronic conditions may see little benefit until they have had between 6-10 treatments. Acupuncture aims to help the body balance itself and is not just for the relief of symptoms but for well-being of the whole person, so there will always be some benefit.
How will I feel after treatment?
Most people say they feel relaxed & energized following treatment, but sometimes mild dizziness or tiredness is experienced and very rarely a small bruise may appear on a point, usually a day later. However, all these reactions are short-lived.
Does it work?
Short answer: yes, but better for some things than others. Please check these Research Fact Sheets listed by condition on the BACC website to see if yours is covered.
However, scientific testing which was developed for pharmaceutical drugs is not a suitable or fair test of acupuncture and the fact that medical science has very little interest in developing one has led to an unfair situation which legally prevents me from “advertising” the benefits of acupuncture for many conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO), publishes a list of conditions that are suitable for treatment with acupuncture. You can view a PDF file of the WHO list here: Diseases & disorders that can be treated with acupuncture
Or better still, please phone me for a free telephone consultation about your condition.
Is acupuncture safe?
As a member of the British Acupuncture Council, I am governed by the Code of Safe Practice and the Code of Professional Conduct, both of which guarantee the highest standards of safety. The needles used are single-use, sterile and disposable, as well as being of the highest quality to ensure a comfortable treatment experience for patients.
Can I claim on Medical Insurance?
That depends upon your insurer. As the demand for complementary medicine increases more private health insurance companies are beginning to offer cover for traditional acupuncture. You should check your individual policy details.