Treatments will commence only after a thorough diagnosis. You will be asked questions about your health including current symptoms and treatment, and your medical history. Factors such as diet, the digestive system, sleep and emotional state give information that helps structure a treatment specific to your needs.
The practitioner will take your pulse, have a close look at your tongue, and gently palpate your limbs, joints and abdomen to see which meridians and acupuncture points will be used in treatment.
Frequency and length of treatment depends on your individual condition. Effects and change can be felt quite early on but usually more significantly after five or six treatments, with sustainable results in following sessions. Occasionally only one or two treatments are required. Some patients may need treatment over several months.
Typically 6-10 sessions will be needed, after which many patients continue treatment on monthly or seasonal intervals as a form of preventative medicine or as a way of exploring and improving their potential health.
Once the practitioner decides on an appropriate treatment very fine needles are inserted into acupuncture points usually causing a tingling, numbness or dull ache.
The acupuncture points used are not always close to the part of the body where you experience the problem. For example, although you might suffer from headaches, needles may be inserted into your foot or hand.
All needles are sterile, blister packed and single use. Typically the needles used are between 0.20mm and 0.16mm and are therefore very fine.
In order to clearly track the effects of the points used Jon will take your pulses after each point has been needled. Keeping treatments concise and as simple as possible also allows a way monitoring the effectiveness of points. This means most treatments will have an average of five to seven points being used to bring about the necessary changes in each session.
Cupping and moxibustion
Often the use of needles is supplemented with other techniques such as moxabustion and cupping.
Moxibustion is a procedure where Moxa - a dried herb, usually of the species mugwort (Latin name: Artemisia vulgaris) - is used either directly on the skin or just above the skin over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, heat permeates into the body and affects the flow of Qi (energy) and blood in the area being treated. For anyone feeling cold, achey, sluggish or generally flat this type of treatment would certainly be a consideration.
Cupping is an ancient technique used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate acupuncture points or larger areas of the body. The technique involves creating a vacuum inside round glass or bamboo cups while on the area to be treated. The cups are then left in place for anything up to 20 minutes.
Cupping is most commonly used to treat colds and flu by shifting congestion in the chest and to relieve
muscle and joint pain.
"Should my doctor know?"
If you have been prescribed medication or are undergoing any kind of treatment it makes sense to tell your doctor or consultant that you are planning to have acupuncture. In most cases acupuncture is complementary to conventional western medicine.
You should always tell your acupuncturist about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatments.
Also ensure you work with your GP if you plan to reduce your medication.