You may have heard raving reviews about the Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. However, deciding to take the plunge and go to your first appointment can be daunting. It's a lot less scary than it sounds. Here are some things to expect out of your first appointment.
Learning What Your Goals Are
Acupuncture is practiced differently depending on what your goals are. For people with an injury or illness, acupuncture is used to provoke an immune response and draw resources to a specific area. For example, if you have a back injury that isn't healing very quickly, your acupuncture specialist is likely to place needles around the site to draw attention there. If you have a specific health concern, the acupuncture focus might be around the glands that are responsible for producing certain hormones that would help with the illness. Some people use acupuncture for stress, at which point the acupuncture specialist would place the needles around areas that are holding tension or near glands that produce stress-fighting hormones. Generally, just one concern is focused on at a time. Overwhelming the body with multiple stimuli defeats the purpose of drawing a response to one "needy" area of the body.
Placing the Needles
The needles are extremely thin, sterile, disposable needles that are placed in the body for 20-25 minutes at a time. They alert the body of a foreign "invasion" that promotes a local immune response, drawing resources and blood to that area. It's meant to be stimulating to certain areas of the body that need a pick me up. It takes just a few minutes to place the needles, and it shouldn't hurt; the most you should feel is a light pinch as the needle is inserted. You should not feel the needles during the 20 minute waiting period. If you do, ask your acupuncture specialist to reposition the needle.
You will usually be left alone to relax during the 20 minute period where the acupuncture needles are inserted. After that, your specialist may do some light massage work to end the appointment.
After the Appointment
After the appointment, you might have mild reactions on your skin if you're not used to acupuncture. Some people also feel elevated moods or euphoria, due to the responses of the brain to acupuncture treatment; your body is flooded with antihistamines and endorphins to combat a perceived attack to the body.