What to expect when you come for treatment

The first visit

Your initial visit will take around an hour and a half and consists of a personal and medical consultation covering your family history, lifestyle, systems functions (eg. sleep, appetite) and full details of your current complaint/s and any test or investigations that you have had.

You will also have the opportunity to discuss in complete confidence any concerns or troubles you may currently be dealing with.

After your consultation I will carry out a number of short non-invasive physical diagnostic tests including blood pressure, temperature distribution and pulse taking. In most cases, aside from the most complex, this is then followed by your first treatment.

As you’d expect, sessions involve an element of physical examination, including any tender or problem areas, temperature distribution and left/right balance. This examination is relevant whatever your health issues may be, as it tells me about the way your individual system works. It means that you will be asked to take some items of clothing off (never your underwear).

In Chinese medicine, diagnosis involves looking at the whole person, not just symptoms or illnesses, so some of my questions may at first seem unrelated to your condition. Please be reassured that I am seeking information in a structured way, in order to make a treatment plan that is customised to you as an individual. You do not need to share any information that makes you feel uncomfortable.

I’ll also inform you about how I safeguard your private data and will ask you to complete and sign a form consenting to treatment.

Come for a chat first

Many patients meet me for a free 15 or 20-minute, no-obligation chat before they come for their first treatment. This gives you the chance to ask about how acupuncture can help you and discuss any questions you may have, helping you to feel more relaxed and confident when you come for your first appointment and treatment.

This chat is also a chance to get to know me, your practitioner, before deciding to go ahead with treatment. The patient/practitioner relationship is vital to relaxing and enjoyable treatment sessions and we both need to feel comfortable with each other.

What should I wear?

You may prefer to wear loose clothing, but some patients come straight from work, so there is no dress code! You are left in privacy to dress and undress and will be covered by a blanket.

It will be very helpful if you keep make up and scented products to a minimum (please do not use perfume or aftershave, for example),

Should I eat before I come?

It’s good idea to make sure you’ve had enough to drink during the day and just before your appointment. You will be offered a glass of water when you arrive.

Many patients come straight from work, but if you can, try to have a a light snack up to an hour before treatment.

It makes sense to avoid heavy meals and alcohol before and immediately after treatment if you can.

How will I feel after treatment?

Patients differ in their immediate response to treatment. Most find that they feel much more relaxed, even to the point of being quite sleepy, after their first acupuncture treatment.

You should be fine to drive, but please consider alternative transport if your journey is long.

What equipment do you use?

I use sterilised, hypoallergenic stainless steel single-use needles for your treatment. Acupuncture needles are very fine – in general around ten times smaller than the average syringe needle, and just twice the diameter of the human hair.

The number of needles is kept to a minimum, and they may be inserted and removed immediately, or left in for a few minutes. Most people notice a tingling or slight dull ache only, and find the whole experience very relaxing.

As treatment progresses, I may use additional techniques which I will fully explain and for which I will seek your additional consent on the day.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Many patients are concerned that acupuncture may be painful, but as the needles are flexible and about as thick as two human hairs there is usually only a very slight sensation as it enters the skin. Sometimes patients also feel a dull ache on the acupuncture point but this also only lasts for a few seconds and is generally not considered to be uncomfortable. Many find acupuncture relaxing and feel very calm during and after a treatment; you may also feel a little tired or sleepy so if possible, try to arrange a relatively restful and quiet day, especially for your first treatment.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments currently on offer in the UK.  In 2001 a number of studies concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000.  Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are infrequent, mild and self-correcting. To see more information regarding the safety of acupuncture please visit the British Acupuncture Council’s website.