What to expect at your first acupuncture treatment : Part 1

Leopard with tongue showing

So you’ve heard that acupuncture may be able to help your aches and pains. You’ve asked around, or googled and found an acupuncturist (maybe me?) and booked your appointment. But it can be a little daunting if you haven’t had acupuncture before and you don’t know what to expect. Let me walk you through what I do in a typical first appointment.


When you first arrive I’ll ask you to complete a form with all of your personal details. This includes some information about any medical conditions that you may have and any allergies. We will go through your medical history in more detail as part of the consultation, but it is important to make sure you fill this out so we can make sure the treatment is suitable for you.

Next, we’ll sit an have a chat. Not just a general chit chat about your day and the weather (although being in England we do often end up on that subject anyway) but more specifically about the symptoms that you are coming to get treated.

I’ll ask you how long you’ve had the problem, how it effects your life, what tends to make it better or worse, what time of day it might be better or worse and even if your symptoms change with the weather (I told you we’d get back to the weather).

We’ll then take a holistic run through of you, covering you and your physical symptoms and emotions from top to toe. From headaches, to diet, eyesight, hearing, sleeping, digestion – everything! Asking all this information helps me to bring together a whole picture of your health and wellbeing and look at any patterns that arise.

Symptoms that you may think are completely unrelated are often linked together from a Chinese Medicine perspective.

Say Ahhh!!

Jaguar with tongue showing

Next I’ll ask to take a look at your tongue. Not quite the same way as your GP. We look at a number of different things on your tongue, including the shape, colour, any markings and the coating. All of this builds up a bigger picture of your symptoms. I’ll cover some more about what we look at on your tongue in a future post. For the meantime – it’s great if you don’t brush your tongue before coming along – as that helps me see the real state of affairs.

I’ll also take your pulse, and on both wrists. Here I’m checking for the speed, the depth and a number of other characteristics. Each of the locations along your wrist representing different organs in the body and their different functions.

Piecing together the Puzzle

So now I take all these pieces of the puzzle together, and they usually fit into one or more patterns of disharmony, where things are out of balance. I look at the best acupuncture points that would be useful for your condition and whether we should incorporate some other techniques like massage, cupping or moxibustion.

Don’t worry at this stage if these things sound like I’m speaking Chinese. I always make sure I explain what I will be doing before we get started. If you’d like to know more check back for some future articles where I’ll be sharing all the details.

We’ll continue with what happens next in Part Two.


Day 2: Love your Blog Challenge

photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin



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