What happens at a first treatment?
At your first treatment, I’ll take a thorough case-history. I’ll ask some questions about your symptoms, medical history, lifestyle, diet, sleep, digestion, energy levels and, if relevant, emotional state.
I’ll also look at your tongue and feel your pulses to help reach a diagnosis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the tongue and pulse provide important information on a person’s particular patterns of imbalance.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the appropriate acupuncture points are chosen and needles inserted.
Needle insertion is relatively painless. Once the body’s Qi has been reached you may feel some heaviness, swelling, tingling or electric sensation near the needle or travelling up or down the affected meridian. Any discomfort is usually mild.
What should I look for in an acupuncturist?
As well as checking that they are registered with a professional body and have appropriate insurance cover, you may find that your personal rapport with the practitioner is important. It is helpful to find a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable, who understands what you want from treatment, and who can explain clearly what they expect acupuncture treatment might do for you.
How many treatments will I need?
This varies between patients. Most people have a course of treatment and usually notice changes after four to six sessions. Your practitioner will review your progress with you, and carefully monitor your treatment to ensure that it matches your needs.
What about the needles used?
BAcC members use single-use pre-sterilised disposable needles, which are disposed of immediately after use. The BAcC Code of Safe Practice, drawn up in consultation with experts in the field of skin piercing, lays down stringent standards which all BAcC members are required to follow. The rules also extend to the hygiene and sterilisation of other equipment.
Is it safe?
There have been three surveys in the last six years which have shown that acupuncture is amongst the safest therapies in use in the UK today. Out of 68,000 recorded treatments in two of the 2001 surveys, there were only 14 minor (bruising, feeling nauseous) adverse events. There have been very few reports of serious adverse events, and most adverse effects are transient, lasting no more than a day or so.
What should I do before treatment?
You should try not to have a large meal within an hour of your appointment as the process of digestion will alter the pattern of your pulse. You should also avoid alcohol, and food or drinks which colour your tongue, such as coffee, immediately prior to treatment.
How will I feel after acupuncture?
You may feel rather relaxed and calm. If the treatment has been particularly strong you could feel quite tired or drowsy for a few hours, and you should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use machinery. Occasionally there may be a short-term flair-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles itself.
Should I tell my doctor?
If you are receiving treatment from your doctor then it is sensible to mention that you plan to have acupuncture. The acupuncture treatment may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication, but you should always consult your doctor regarding any change of prescription. Your acupuncturist needs to know about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
Should I continue with my prescribed medication while undergoing a course of acupuncture treatment?
Yes, at least until you have discussed this with your doctor or the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Many people seek the help of an acupuncturist because of dissatisfaction with drug treatment, because it does not seem to be working or because the side effects are unacceptable. DO NOT stop taking any medication without professional guidance.
Is acupuncture available on the NHS?
Some clinical commissioning groups and GP practices offer acupuncture treatment, but it is not yet commonplace. You should always enquire about any acupuncture treatment on offer to ensure that the practitioner is safe, properly trained, competent and fully insured.
Why should I go to a BAcC member?
BAcC members have an extensive training in acupuncture (to undergraduate degree level) and in biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture in the UK. As well as being covered by full Medical Malpractice and Public/ Products Liability Insurance, BAcC members are bound by codes of professional conduct and safe practice.
For appointments or to discuss whether acupuncture could help you please contact Pippa.