Before we get started, just a few words about what you should do when coming to our clinic. Dress in comfortable clothes, loose fitting pants or sweatpants that allow easy access to your lower extremities. If you are coming in for low back pain we will need to access your lower back and hips (running shorts are great for this). Sports bras for women are unnecessary (and even get in the way if we need to access your back). You should make sure you have something to eat within a few hours of coming to the clinic. Treatments can leave some people feeling a bit drained immediately afterwards and if you come on an empty stomach, this can be exacerbated. As much as possible, avoid caffeine and smoking within a few hours of your treatment. Caffeine and nicotine can affect your pulses and pulse rate, two very important diagnostic tools for us.
Your initial visit to the clinic will consist of an extended intake that will last from one and a half to two hours (acupuncture may or may not be done during this session depending upon your chief complaint and time restrictions you may be under). You can download and fill out our intake forms at your convenience, before coming in to the office to save time. While these intake forms are extensive, remember, we want to get to the root of your problem to formulate the most effective treatment strategy. Even the most seemingly innocuous items can give us clues as to how to proceed.
Once in the office, we will go over your intake forms together and ask additional questions for clarification as necessary. After that your pulses will be taken. We palpate your radial artery (on the wrist) in three different positions on each side and at various depths. This process is much different then simply taking your pulse rate and can take up to twenty minutes. Each of the pulse positions corresponds to an organ system in Chinese medicine and gives the practitioner a wealth of information with which to make a thorough diagnosis.
Didn't Your Mother Tell You not to Stick Your Tongue Out?
Your tongue will also be examined, and probably the most asked question we get in the clinic is "why do you have to look at my tongue?". If you looked at our "How it Works" section, you will recall that the ancient Chinese did not have the vast array of technological devices that we use today when diagnosing patients. They therefore relied on signs that they saw repeatedly in practice and correlated them to disease processes and manifestations. By looking at things like the color and coating of different areas of the tongue along with the shape of the tongue, a practitioner of oriental medicine is able to draw some rather astounding conclusions without so much as a blood test or x-ray.
Lay Back And Relax
At this point, you will be directed to a treatment room where you will lie back on a treatment table. Your abdomen will be palpated along with other areas of the body (typically feet, neck, shoulders and area of chief complaint). We target specific areas based upon your chief complaint, medical history, tongue and pulses. We are looking for areas that are tender upon palpation leading us to diagnose areas of restriction and blockage. Acupoints on other areas of the body will then be pressed to alleviate the pressure pain found on palpation. “Kiiko Style Acupuncture” as it is known, gives the practitioner the unique ability to verify that the treatment points selected (along with the correct location and even angle) are correct and are producing the desired effect. By alleviating the pressure pain found in specifically targeted areas for your condition we are removing restrictions and blockages, allowing the body to do what it would naturally do if there was no pathology, namely heal itself. If we are doing actual acupuncture in the first session, needles will be inserted at the stimulated acupoints to continue the stimulation of the point and effect healing.
An actual treatment session will last from one to one and a half hours. Most patients are treated face up first. Needles are inserted and retained for fifteen to twenty minutes. The needles will then be removed and you will turn over and lie face down. Needles will again be inserted and retained for fifteen to twenty minutes. During the retention of the needles, your only job is to relax. It is very common to have patients actually fall asleep while the needles are retained, giving the body a much needed break to concentrate on healing.
Boy Do I Feel Mellow
After treatment patients report a variety of feelings ranging from relaxed to feeling "lighter" and sometimes a bit fuzzy. Try to relax as much as possible for the rest of the day and drink plenty of water. Pay attention to how you feel the rest of the day and the following day especially. Pay attention not only to your chief complaint but how you feel overall. This will give us important clues as to how the treatment is progressing and when to make adjustments.