If it’s your first time, you may feel unsure or nervous. So, here’s our guide to talk you through what to expect.
At the start of your first appointment, your acupuncturist will ask for your written consent to treatment before asking you questions about your medical history and lifestyle, as well as any symptoms you may be experiencing. This part of the process is very important as it will help them to make an accurate diagnosis on which to base your initial acupuncture treatment.
Your acupuncturist will write down what you tell them in your records. These will be treated as confidential in accordance with standards of practice set out by the British Acupuncture Council and the GDPR Act 2018. If you wish, you may request a copy of your notes.
Your acupuncturist will carry out various diagnostic examinations, which involve looking at your tongue, taking your pulse on both wrists and examining you physically to assist in making a diagnosis and putting together your treatment plan. They will explain what they are doing as they go along and you are welcome to ask questions.
If you are uncomfortable with any part of this, you have the right to ask them to stop at any stage, without prejudicing your future treatment.
You are also welcome to ask a friend or relative to accompany you and be present throughout your appointment. An adult will always be required to accompany a young person under 18 years receiving acupuncture treatment.
What to Wear
As with any healthcare appointment, it may be necessary for your acupuncturist to ask you to remove some clothing. This is so they can see and touch the areas of the body causing you concern. Your acupuncturist will want you to feel at ease, therefore if you feel uncomfortable undressing to your underwear then please bring along or wear alternative clothing, such as shorts and a t-shirt that will enable them to work effectively. If you need to change, your acupuncturist will leave the room to give you the privacy to do this. You will also be covered with a large towel whilst on the treatment couch.
Following completion of your medical history form and diagnostic examinations, your acupuncturist will gently insert needles at specific points along the body’s acupuncture channels and these will remain in place for 20 minutes, whilst you relax. After treatment your acupuncturist will discuss whether follow-up visits for acupuncture may be needed and at what recommended intervals. If your acupuncturist thinks that treatment isn’t suitable for you or your problem then they will explain this to you and discuss what you should do next.
What will Treatment feel like?
Your acupuncturist will be using very fine, single-use pre-sterilised needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Since energy pathways are spread across the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you may be experiencing pain or discomfort. For example, to treat you for headaches, your acupuncturist may insert needles in your foot or leg.
Most people find acupuncture very relaxing. Patients often describe the needle sensation as a tingling, dull ache or heavy sensation. In Chinese Medicine this is viewed as one of the signs the body’s Qi, or vital energy having been stimulated.
Are there any unpleasant side effects?
Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects. Any that do occur are mild and self-correcting. Occasionally there may be minor bleeding or bruising at the needle point, or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your Qi clears and resettles. Your acupuncturist will provide all new patients with a British Acupuncture Council aftercare leaflet, which explains this information in more detail.
Training and Regulation
Traditional acupuncturists are licensed Complementary Medicine professionals, specifically trained in diagnosing and treating a wide range of health issues in accordance with the ancient, well respected and widely practised art of Chinese Medicine. They also complete compulsory training in Western anatomy, physiology and pathology.You can be confident that your acupuncturist has the highest level of training and expertise, and will provide a safe and effective diagnosis and treatment for you. Trained to degree level, your acupuncturist is a fully insured member of the British Acupuncture Council, the lead UK regulatory body for acupuncture. They are also committed to undertaking regular post-qualification study activities to ensure continuing professional development.