Your first Acupuncture visit

Acupuncture & Chinese medicine are such a huge part of my life that at times I just assume most people are familiar with the medicine and therefore have a good idea what to expect during an Acupuncture treatment.  But in reality this is just not the case.  So in this week’s article I am going to take the time to explain what someone new to Acupuncture & Chinese medicine can expect from an Acupuncture treatment with me.

I think anyone who practices Acupuncture or is an Acupuncture patient would agree with the cartoon below.   I know I was guilty of having this incorrect viewpoint before my first Acupuncture treatment. 

When a new Acupuncture patient comes into my office for a treatment the very first thing I do is establish a health history and perform a thorough medical assessment.   In my experience it is the medical assessment that surprises people the most about the new treatment experience.  The reason I believe there is a surprise with the initial medical assessment is due to the unfortunate misconception that some hold of Acupuncture, that it involves no more assessment or diagnostic skills than asking the patient “where does it hurt” and inserting a needle in that area. I can assure you there is more to it than that.

A Registered and properly trained Acupuncturists (R.Ac) will perform a thorough medical assessment that looks at the patient’s life-style, diet, current medications, level of activity, digestive function, sleep habits, emotional state, posture, respiration, circulation, pulse rate, and current symptom location, quality, frequency and intensity.

All of these factors are assessed regardless if the patient has come in for neck pain, IBS, anxiety, constipation or any other medical condition.  The view in Acupuncture & Chinese medicine is that to properly treat the root of the problem (not just the symptoms) and the patient to the best of your ability an Acupuncturist needs the WHOLE patient picture regardless of the condition being treated.

Once all the pertinent medical information is gathered a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is carried out using Acupuncture and/or the other therapies of Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture is the primary therapy used by Acupuncturists trained in Chinese medicine however it is not the only therapy we use.  Depending on the condition and patient needs a combination of different Chinese medical therapies such as: cupping, massage therapy, moxibustion, nutritional counseling and/or Chinese herbal medicine may be used in combination with or instead of Acupuncture to achieve the patient’s therapeutic goals.

The needles used in Acupuncture are single use and made from sterile surgical grade stainless steel.  They are NOT and are NOTHING like syringes or I.V needles used by Medical doctors or Naturopaths. 

Acupuncture needles are more closely related to pins rather then needles in the traditional western medical sense.   Acupuncture needles used in treatment are solid (not hollow like a syringe), do not contain medicines and are about the size of a human hair in thickness.

All treatments are performed in a private setting on a massage table with the patient lying comfortably while draped with sheets, just as they would be during a massage treatment.  During a typical treatment Acupuncture needles are placed in various areas of the body depending on the condition.  The most common locations are in the muscles of the arms, legs and back (only muscles are needled, never arteries, veins or nerves).  Needles are retained for 15 – 20 minutes and the total treatment time is 60 minutes plus an additional 30 minutes on the first visit for the initial medical assessment.

At the end of the treatment all needles are removed and the patient is informed of how many treatments they may need to resolve their current condition(s).  Chinese herbal medicines, stretches, exercise or dietary suggestions may also be prescribed if applicable to help speed recovery and improve therapeutic results.


It’s not a one-treatment wonder

Acupuncture works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next. If the issue you’re seeking Acupuncture for has been bothering you for a while, it probably will take more than one treatment before you notice or get the desired results you are after. Similar to how medications are ineffective unless you take the prescribed dose, if you don’t get Acupuncture consistently and within an appropriate time frame it is unlikely to yield the desired result.


Does Acupuncture hurt?

To the surprise of many people Acupuncture is a relatively pain free therapy.   I have had many patients come into my office quite nervous for their first treatment only to be pleasantly surprised at how painless the treatment was and equally surprised that they feel asleep during the treatment.  During an Acupuncture session a patient may feel about four to five needles.  They usually don’t feel the insertion of the needle, what they feel is the common sensations of an Acupuncture point being stimulated. This can feel like a muscle twitch or heavy sensation in the local area.  These sensations disappear in seconds, and during the treatment patients are very relaxed and don’t feel the needles at all. 


If you having any question about Acupuncture or would like to book an assessment and treatment please contact my office at (250) 860 - 2212 or visit my website www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ryan Samuels is a Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medical Herbalist (R.Ac, R.TCMP) at KLO Chiropractic Centre in Kelowna. He holds a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine diploma, and has a special interest in the treatment of digestive issues, neuropathy, acute & chronic pain, sports injuries, and migraines.  All treatments with Ryan are individualized and designed around your current physical and mental well being. 

Website link:  http://www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com/

Contact Email:  [email protected] 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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