It’s amazing how when you put your thoughts out into the world things return to you! Just as I was sitting to write this post, my inbox pinged me to notify me of a new email. The topic of that email? What to Expect at your First Acupuncture Treatment from my HuffPost Healthy Living Newsletter. I wish I had this information in hand when I first decided to try acupuncture, but at least I can make it available to you now that I’ve done my research and been to a few sessions myself.
Acupuncture is a relatively new experience for me. I was very nervous to go for my first session and I’m not even one of the estimated 10% of people afraid of needles. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. The anxiety disappeared almost immediately after I began the interview with my LAc. She really took the time to get to know me and my story while being empathetic and understanding. We spent over 45 minutes discussing my health, concerns, diet, and lifestyle before she even mentioned doing an actual treatment with the needles. It was really refreshing to have a medical professional actually LISTEN and TRUST that I know my body best (I do live in it after all). When was the last time you experienced that with a Western trained physician?
P.S. The needles used are one-time disposable needles. They are extremely flexible and thin. It’s normal to have very slight bruising.
Once I actually got to the needles, the process was pleasantly quick and easy. I felt a slight “pinch” and tenderness in some places, but no major pain. Once the needles were properly placed (the webs of fingers, ears, tops of feet, neck, head, shins, and wrists) I felt immediately relaxed and most of the pain I had at the beginning dissipated. As each needle entered my body, she asked how I was feeling, and where the site of pain/pain level were at. Occasionally she stopped to take my pulse.
Want to try acupuncture? Here are a few conditions scientifically proven compatible with acupuncture treatments.
1. Headaches and migraines (this is the primary reason I go)
3. Chronic pain
4. Hormonal/Menstrual issues and Infertility
5. Digestive Disorders
6. Nausea and Vomiting (esp. caused by chemotherapy)
8. Stress and related ailments
Most doctors and researchers will admit that acupuncture works. During my first visit, my provider said, “We all know it works both anecdotal evidence and through research. We just don’t really know how.”
If you are thinking of trying acupuncture, but just don’t know what to expect, read on.
Below are steps to ease acupuncture anxiety and mentally prepare for your first session:
- Find a licensed and reputable practitioner. Look here if you don’t already have a referral from someone you trust. Also, look for a qualified and trained herbalist as well. Traditional Chinese herbs are often a complimentary treatment and can extend the amount of time between acupuncture treatments. You definitely want a practitioner who can find the correct blend of herbs for your specific ailment. My LAc blends herbs herself and adjusts the dosage/ingredients at every visit to make sure I am getting the most out of my treatments.
- Check with your insurance provider. You may actually have acupuncture benefits in your health plan! Find a LAc who accepts your insurance if you do, in fact, have coverage.
- Be mindful and in touch with your body. Knowing how you feel both emotionally and physically will make it easier for your provider to fine tune your treatments. Also, there is some evidence to “the placebo effect” having a genuine positive affect on the effectiveness of your treatment.
- Eat something light before your treatment otherwise you may feel a bit light-headed when you’re done.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing so that you can skip the awkward hospital gown.
- Use the restroom before your treatment because once the needles are in, you’ll need to lie still for about 30 minutes.
- Bring medical records and your health history. You’ll likely be asked these questions and it’s better to bring your records than try to remember off-hand.
- Ask questions. Don’t be shy! Your provider is there to help you! Also, the more information you give them, the easier it to treat you.
- Avoid intense exercise immediately following your session. Better yet, plan out an extra half an hour to nap. Many providers recommend taking a short nap immediately after a session to maximize the benefits of your treatment.
- Drink up! Water, water, water…or green tea! Stay hydrated.
Entry filed under: Alternative Medicine, Lifestyle. Tags: Acupuncture, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, acupuncture needles, Alternative, alternative health, asthma treatment, chronic pain treatment, Complementary and Alternative, health, herbalist, Infertility, migraine treatment, Nausea, needles, pain, pain management, placebo effect, TCM, Traditional Chinese medicine.