The aim of the initial consultation is to determine and diagnose the nature of the disharmony in the body. By careful questioning and observation, the state of the meridians can be assessed and a treatment plan agreed using the required points, selected to suit each individual.
Questions you may be asked will include details about your main complaint, current symptoms, medical and family health history, lifestyle and diet, and how your body is functioning - for example, how well you sleep, your appetite, your digestion, bowel and urination patterns, and your emotional well-being. Women will also be asked about their menstrual cycle, any past pregnancies, and childbirth. At times some questions may seem unrelated to your main complaint, but they allow the practitioner to gain a deeper understanding, allowing them to diagnose patterns and symptoms of disharmony within the meridians and organ systems.
In addition to asking these questions, I will also carry out a physical examination which may vary according to your particular health complaint. I will feel your pulse on both wrists and I will also ask to look at your tongue; pulse and tongue diagnosis are two special diagnostic techniques unique to oriental medicine.
The initial consultation will usually last for 1½ to 2 hours and will include your first treatment. Subsequent treatment sessions will last from 45mins to 1 hour.
Treatment is aimed at the root cause of your condition as well as the presenting symptoms. Based on feedback given at the beginning of each session, I will devise a treatment plan to establish the points needed to effect a change in the flow of Qi, restoring balance and harmony in the body.
Acupuncture needles are so fine that quite often, not much is felt during the insertion process. When the needle has been inserted to the desired depth, there is another sensation. This sensation, known as 'Deqi' is often described as a dull ache, pulling, tingling or numbness - it is rarely described as painful and lasts only a couple of seconds.
At this point, depending on the type of treatment, the needle may be immediately removed or left in from 20 to 30 minutes.
Most patients experience a deep sense of relaxation as tension is released and energies are rebalanced, while others may leave feeling completely re-energised.
There may often be a change to your emotional state. A few individuals might feel a little tired for a few hours after the treatment, but this will pass within a short time.
Occasionally, there might be a short flare-up of your symptoms as part of a 'healing reaction'. This is temporary and is usually followed by an improvement of the symptoms the following day.
Though there may be some immediate relief of symptoms, more chronic conditions might take more than one session, as the ongoing effects of the acupuncture treatment begins to accumulate and generate the healing process.