What to Expect at Treatment
New patients typically begin treatment with a traditional intake and diagnostic session. During this appointment (which typically takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on complexity), your primary health concerns, as well as your complete medical history and current lifestyle will be discussed. If you elect, you may also receive your first acupuncture treatment at this appointment (an extra fee will be charged).
Your diagnosis will be based, in part, on this discussion. During this appointment, you will be provided with an explanation of the Chinese medical diagnosis, treatment strategy and likely prognosis. The role of lifestyle will also be discussed and modifications may be employed gradually throughout the course of treatment.
Because this initial diagnostic session is so comprehensive, many patients find the feeling of relief and healing begin even prior to any acupuncture treatment. Many times, it is the most thoroughly a patient has ever been seen and heard by any health care practitioner. The discussion of the patient's history from the unique vantage point of Chinese medicine is a truly enlightening and refreshing view. It often is the first time that a cluster of seemingly unrelated symptoms mesh together in a holistic picture. This new view inspires the hope of positive and healing change with the onset of treatment.
Subsequent acupuncture appointments will typically take about an hour. We check in to assess your progress and provide a treatment. Treatment modalities include acupuncture, as well as other so-called adjunct practices where appropriate. These modalities may include cupping, gua sha (skin frictioning), moxibustion (application of heat on or above the skin), or near infrared light application.
Within the first few appointments, you may also be provided with guidelines regarding the role of lifestyle, especially dietary concerns, as it relates to your unique diagnostic picture. These guidelines also review the details of the diagnosis and treatment strategies. Patients love these guidelines because they not only reinforce their own understanding of their ongoing treatment, but they also help in explaining their treatment to others. Happy patients love to share!
Treatment Frequency and Duration
The burning question is always how often and how long will you have to be treated. Your recommended treatment frequency and duration is an individual matter and will be discussed at your first appointment. Duration and frequency of treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of the complaint, how long it has been an issue, and the extent to which life style contributes to it.
In most cases, acupuncture treatments will start once weekly for about 6 to 10 treatments. After this initial period, treatment strategies will be reassessed, depending on progress and your needs. For long standing or chronic issues, most patients do well to start treatment on a weekly basis, tapering to less frequency if desired. If the treatment strategy involves the use of herbal therapy, less frequent treatment sessions may be appropriate. Your desires, given practical and financial considerations, are always taken into account when determining treatment frequency and duration.
Responses to Treatment
Many people want to know how many visits it will take before they feel a change or experience relief from their symptoms. Every individual responds differently to treatment and treatment efficacy varies according to the nature of the condition. Like any other medical treatment, there are no guarantees on particular outcomes. Some patients may experience dramatic results very early in treatment, while others take a more prolonged and sustained effort.
Most patients notice a significant level of improvement within the first 6 to 10 treatments or within a few weeks of taking herbs. It may take longer to achieve lasting relief for long standing chronic conditions. Typically, the longer a symptom, ailment or other concern has been present, the longer it will take to notice substantial and lasting changes. Likewise, short-term acute problems tend to respond more quickly and can resolve completely without any further need for treatment.
Overall, treatment is designed to promote the healthy quantity, quality and movement of Qi. As the Qi is properly balanced, you will become more aware of all your health patterns related to your main issues. In addition to relief from your primary symptoms, you will likely notice improvements to your overall state of health and well being. For example, you may notice changes in sleeping patterns, stress relief, better mood, lessened allergy symptoms, and improved body temperature. These are all positive signs of good health and typically become your early markers for future imbalances after treatment frequency tapers.
What If Treatment Doesn't Work?
Well, we hate to see it happen, but, like any other medical paradigm, treatment can't always reach everybody adequately. Fortunately, in Kay's clinical experience, it is the exception rather than the rule. That being said, there are circumstances where a patient doesn't respond to treatment or the response is too insignificant or slow. In that event, it is time to discuss terminating treatment. There will be no hard feelings and Kay will do her best to potentially point you in a different medical direction that might be better suited to your condition and concerns.