After you’ve scheduled your first appointment, you may be wondering “what next?”
While not all acupuncturists practice exactly the same, generally you are going to keep the following in mind.
Paperwork & Imaging:
First, if you were given the New Patient Paperwork, be sure to fill it out to the best of your ability. Typically, this will include your contact information, chief complaint, list of current medications, and your medical history.
If you are seeking treatment for something that you’ve had any labs or imaging done on, please bring copies of the reports in with you. While Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on practices 1000’s of years old, many practitioners will incorporate present day testing into their evaluations.
Make sure to bring your ID, and any relevant Health Insurance Information.
Make Sure to Eat Before Hand
It’s important that you’ve eaten before your treatment, even if it’s just a small snack or a meal a few hours before. This is because acupuncture can mildly lower blood glucose levels, and not eating increases the risk for dizziness after treatment.
It is also important that you come in sober – a drink with lunch is nice, but it will change both your presentation (and thus diagnosis) as well as the effectiveness of your treatment. This goes for pretty much anything that is not prescribed or directed by your doctor or other licensed health professional.
Wear Loose/Comfortable Clothing
Depending on what you are seeking treatment for, most acupuncturists will try to leave on as much of your clothing as possible. Try to choose paints that can be easily pulled above the knee, and shirts/undershirts that expose as much of your neck/shoulders/arms as possible.
If loose clothing is not an option for any reason (such as coming from work), do not worry! This is perfectly fine. Your Acupuncturist will most likely just have you either wear a gown or cover up with a sheet.
Plan to Take It Easy After your Treatment
Everyone reacts differently to acupuncture, and typically results are much improved if you have an easier day after treatment. We understand that life is unavoidable and some things will just have to get done, but do your best not to do anything extra after your treatment (like go to the gym). You deserve and afternoon off!
Also plan to drink lots of water. Acupuncture can get things circulating, and staying hydrated goes a very long way.
What to Expect
At Your First Visit:
When you arrive, you will want to check in at the front desk. They will ask you for your paperwork, and ensure everything is filled out correctly. The Front Desk may also give you any other forms that need to be signed.
The Doctor will then take you back into the treatment room, and discuss your symptoms to evaluate what is going on. This may or may not include some observation or orthopedic tests, depending on what you are having treated.
Based on your evaluation, the Acupuncturist will design a treatment for you. Often, this will include some points on the hands & feet, as well as on the local/affected area. Some Acupuncturists also choose to utilize the ears to help balance the bodies symptoms.
Once the needles are in, you will typically spend about 20-30 minutes resting on the table. Some treatments will include additional therapies, such as cupping, gua sha, tui na, e-stim, etc. The Acupuncturist will explain any additional therapies if you need them. Often, you will have the option of a heat lamp to stay comfortable during the treatment.
Herbal Consults can be done with or without acupuncture. Based on your evaluation, the doctor will put together a prescription for you. This could be a simple patent pill that is ready to go, a custom granular formula, or a tea made from raw herbs. Depending on what is best for you, the Acupuncturist will let you know when your formula will be ready.