Acupuncture can be a very unique experience if you’ve never had it before. Sometimes you’ll feel things you haven’t felt before, or you’ll feel something you didn’t expect. Often times people will ask “I felt ______, is that normal?” If you’ve never had an acupuncture treatment, there are a few things you should know before going in for your appointment so that you’re better prepared and get the most out of your experience!
Before your appointment:
One of the most important things to do before your acupuncture treatment is to make sure you’ve had something to eat. Do not arrive on an empty stomach, but try not to overeat either. Most clinics also discourage wearing any perfume, cologne, or heavily scented lotions. Depending on the type of treatment you receive, it is a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing so that your acupuncturist can easily access the appropriate areas to be needled. Sheets and draping are provided in case your clothing prevents access to areas which are to be treated. It’s a good idea to bring a list of any medication(s) you are taking.
During your appointment:
Intake for an initial acupuncture treatment is lengthy and the questions are extensive. You may be asked questions which do not seem relevant to your condition. The holistic approach to Chinese medicine and acupuncture includes many factors which might not be considered in other forms of medicine, so please answer as accurately as possible as this helps provide a more comprehensive picture of your health and helps your practitioner make the most accurate diagnosis possible. All information shared is confidential.
There are a number of sensations that can be felt when receiving acupuncture treatment. Here are some of the possible sensations you might experience once the needle has been inserted:
a dull, aching sensation (most common)
Needle insertion should not produce a sharp pain. There may be an initial twinge when the needle first breaks the skin, but this feeling should quickly dissipate. If there is a sharp pain and the feeling continues, let your practitioner know and the needle will be readjusted.
Once the needles have been inserted and you’re left to rest, you may feel a number of things, including:
a “wave” of energy throughout the body or in a particular area
relaxation or falling asleep
crying or having some sort of emotional release, especially if you are going through a particularly stressful or challenging time in your life
feeling light or as if you are floating
feeling heavier or as if you are sinking into the table
having a delayed reaction, even after the needles have been removed and the treatment is over (this can even happen a day after treatment!)
It’s important to remain still during your treatment. Focus on your breathing and enjoy the time you have to yourself. We often don’t get enough of that in our busy lives!
After your appointment:
Try your best to pay attention to any changes in your body. Often after acupuncture treatment, there will be subtle shifts in the way your body behaves or responds. Try to take note of these changes between treatments and report them back to your practitioner. These changes can help your practitioner better understand your condition and how to modify treatments according to the way your body responds. It is very important to note that in the next day or two following your treatment, you may experience a worsening of your symptoms before you start to feel better. This is a healing reaction and is completely normal, but should not last more than a couple of days.
It is important to avoid alcohol on the day of your treatment, both before and after the appointment. It is also best to avoid any strenuous exercise following your treatment, so try to plan for this. Going on a walk is fine, but stay away from heavy exercise, cardio, and weightlifting. Also try to avoid exposure to extreme hot or cold temperatures after treatment, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of cold or flu.