Is Acupuncture Right for You?
Patients seek acupuncture for a diverse number of reasons. Some come to treat a specific complaint, some for relaxation, some for help with overcoming emotional struggles. For information on whether acupuncture can help with specific complaints please see the link, on the right, to a list of Fact Sheets provided by the British Acupuncture Council citing the latest research and indicating whether acupuncture may help.
What to Expect in your First Treatment
Acupuncture treatment is holistic which means that the focus is on you as an individual as opposed to the symptoms which have led to you seek treatment. The first consultation is a detailed process of discussing both your main symptoms (the primary complaint) but also what may seem like unrelated matters such your lifestyle, sleep patterns, emotional wellbeing and health history. All these details are used by an acupuncturist to build up an overall picture of your health and where, according to the paradigm of Chinese Medicine, the imbalance in your health may lie.
The points below give you an idea of what to expect but if you are totally new to acupuncture please let me know and we will spend as much time as necessary discussing what will happen and what to expect during and after treatment.
Here are a few things to bear in mind before your first treatment
- The most commonly used acupuncture points are on the lower legs, feet, arms and hands. It is not uncommon for needles to also be inserted into the back. Wear loose comfortable, preferably layered, clothing.
- You should feel comfortable during the course of treatment and if at any point you feel uncomfortable, insecure or in pain it’s important to let me know. Treatment should be a relaxing and actually an enjoyable experience.
- It’s best not to have treatment on either an empty or uncomfortably full stomach.
- As well as asking lots of questions about your overall health I will feel the pulses in your wrist, look at your tongue and feel for areas of tension and pain.
- The needles remain in places for varying lengths of time. Some go in and are removed immediately. Others may be left in for up to half an hour. Needles are only left in place if they feel comfortable. If you feel any discomfort at all it is important to let me know.
- You may feel tired after your first treatment, as much from the process of discussing yourself for a protracted time as from the treatment itself.
Does it Hurt?
Acupuncture needles are tiny. Some patients report feeling the needles being inserted – generally described as a small pin prick sensation – others feel nothing. Sterile, one-use only needles are inserted into the skin with the help of a guide tube (a tiny plastic tube) which is placed on the skin and helps to steady and guide the needle, a process which minimises feelings of discomfort.
Beyond the initial insertion, the sensation reported by patients is described as a tingling, a dull ache, a pulling sensation, warmth or an electrical sensation. The area affected is normally close to the needle but a sensation can sometimes be felt moving up and down the channel being needled. Some patients, on the other hand, feel nothing at all and others have been known to fall asleep on the treatment couch!
I always ask for feedback on the sensation patients feel and remove the needles immediately if it is uncomfortable.
Is It Safe?
There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practised by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting.
Two studies reported in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is far less than many orthodox medical treatments.
The following link, on the right, details the assurances given to patients who are treated by a member of the British Acupuncture Council.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
There is no hard and fast rule about the duration of treatment. As a rule of thumb, patients who have an acute injury tend to need fewer treatments than those who have a chronic or longstanding complaint. I would expect you to feel some improvement after three to six treatments. The feedback that you give is very important as it enables me to adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
You may find that as well as an improvement in the symptoms for which you originally sought treatment, you also notice other changes, for example better sleep patterns or a general uplift in mood. Many patients have difficulty in pinning down precisely how acupuncture is helping them but report that they just feel ‘better in themselves’.
I tend to treat patients once a week, if they are able, for the first few treatments and then we can review progress together, decide whether to continue and, if so, how frequently. Sometimes, particularly with longstanding issues, a little patience is needed but deciding whether to continue with treatment obviously always rests with the patient.
How Much Does it Cost? £30
This applies to the first treatment, which is generally an hour and a half but also all subsequent treatments which may be as short as forty minutes.
This fee reflects the fact that I work from home and am able to keep my overheads low. However, if you feel you would benefit from treatment but find it difficult to pay the full fee please get in touch. I am happy to discuss concessionary treatments where appropriate.
Questions? Feel free to get in touch!
I have a firm belief in the Eastern philosophy of body-mind-spirit being inseparable and through my own practice I have seen the subtle but transformative power of acupuncture. Please feel free to give me a call to chat through whether acupuncture could help you.