A few tips on how to maximize the benefits from your first acupuncture visit.
And they are surprisingly easy!
Our first meeting is undoubtedly one of the most important sessions. It gives us a chance to become familiar with your overall constitution, health history and life style. For this exact reason, your first session will take longer than the ensuing ones, so plan for approximately 90 minutes.
And here is our general game plan:
- Complete the Initial Intake Form (also includes informed consent form, HIPPA, etc.)
- Review and discussion of your completed Initial Intake Form
- Abdominal palpation and necessary physical examination
- Acupuncture treatments, front and back, as needed
In order to customize your treatment to your specific needs and help you feel better, I need to know about your health history. Are you currently on any medication? What about past surgeries and injuries? How long have you had the current health complain?
How about your life style – Are you getting enough sleep? What is your diet like? Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? How about food allergies?
What do you do for exercise? How is your energy level? Are you content in general or stressed out most of the time?
Your answers to all these questions and any additional information you can share will help tremendously. To treat you as a whole person, not just a set of symptoms, I need to know as much about you as possible.
So sit down, take a deep breath. Remember, this is not Spanish Inquisition, and there is certainly no one here to judge you. The more I know, the better I will be able to help you.
Diagnosing is very much like solving a puzzle.
Sometimes the puzzle is straight-forward and the answers are obvious, but very often that is not the case. Obviously, the more insight and more definitive findings we have, the better we can diagnose the problem. Traditionally, acupuncturists rely on reading the tongue and pulse to determine the patient’s state of being. Though tongue and pulse diagnoses are both valuable in their own rights, particularly in assessing digestive functions and cardiovascular conditions, respectively. There are practical limitations with these two techniques, especially when it comes to pain assessments, musculoskeletal injuries, and gynecological dysfunctions – examples of the most commonly treated conditions by acupuncture.
As a result, I rely heavily on abdominal palpations for general constitution evaluations and physical examinations (PE) for orthopedic and sports injuries as our primary diagnostic tools. For abdominal palpation, I extensively leverage Kiiko Matsumoto’s Japanese Hara techniques to systematically look for any tender or painful spots around the patient’s abdomen. The trouble spots can be either a subjective pain reported by the patient and/or an objective hardened spot detected by the examiner’s touch; most of the time, the patients are not even aware of having pains at the abdomen. Based on our findings, appropriate points are selected for needle insertion. The advantage of this “closed-loop” approach is that the diagnosis and treatment are tightly coupled, so the points are chosen and needles are inserted based on immediate patient feedback, not on theories.
The palpation/PE approach places a premium on the practitioner’s clinical and communication skills, point selection and needling accuracy and precision, while treating the patients in a real-time, evidence-based fashion. It is a much more intensive and time-consuming framework, but the treatment outcome is consistently superior.