Acupuncture Treatment

By Milos

Every Acupuncture treatment has two parts: the diagnosis and the needling. The Acupuncture Practitioner will observe, ask, listen and feel in order to create an accurate picture of Patient’s health. Regardless if it is the first meeting between the Patient and the Practitioner, every treatment will start with a conversation about what is happening in Patient’s life. The Practitioner will ask questions regarding patient’s sleep, appetite, digestion, urination, bowels, mood in order to observe the condition of the patient and / or progress since the last meeting. The answers to those questions are noted in Patient’s chart. Patient’s skin, eyes and tongue will also be observed for condition and / or change. Patient should always feel heard and no issue, no matter how small should be overlooked because they all paint the picture of the overall health condition.

The next step in Acupuncture Diagnosis is taking of Patients pulses. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consider 12 organs to be Major Organs and each one has a pulse corresponding to it. The pulses are usually taken at the radial pulse location, on the wrists of both arms. Pulses for the Heart, Small Intestine, Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidney and Bladder are taken on the left wrist. The Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach, Triple Heater and Pericardium pulses are taken on the right wrist. Practitioners spend years learning to read the pulses correctly, not just for volume but for many other qualities. Reading the pulse is an art all to its self and it gives an experienced Practitioner a window into current but also past and even future disharmonies.

The Practitioner will use the observations, answers and pulses to create a clear understanding of Patient’s condition and to make decisions regarding what Organs, Meridians and Points need to be treated. Usually, between two and ten points are selected for treatment but it sometimes can be more. If Patient has not done it yet, he will take off all clothes except underwear and lay on the treatment table. Since most of the important points are located below the knees and elbows, the Patient will usually cover their body with a sheet. The Practitioner will explain the point selection and locations and offer any answers to what each point does and how it is located and needled.

The needling itself is the most misunderstood part of Acupuncture. Needle that is used today is much thinner and very different from Acupuncture needles of the past. Modern needles are made of stainless steel, come in individual sterile packages and are thinner than human hair. They cause absolutely no sensation when they are inserted and the only indication that a needle is being used comes after a few seconds, when Qi rushes to the site. The feeling is not of any sort of pain but more electrical, sometimes ‘grabbing the needle’, sometimes running up or down that Meridian. Generally speaking, the better the flow of Qi in one’s body, the less sensation will that person feel. Some points, like Upper Bladder points on the back, cause almost no sensation at all. Other points like “Kidney 3″ which is located on the inside of each ankle, will cause Qi to rush to the feet and feel like “pins and needles” shooting out of the soles of ones feet.

Once the needle is inserted, the Practitioner will “call the Qi” by moving the needle up and down, never going deeper then half and inch to an inch, depending on the point. This moment in treatment is considered one of the best proofs of existence of Qi because the same action of moving the needle up and down will first produce no sensation but, within a few seconds, will usually make one feel like there is electricity moving towards the needle.

The needles are sometimes taken out immediately and sometimes they are left for 10 or even 20 minutes. On rare occasions, the Practitioner will want to leave the needles in longer than that. During this time, the Patient is encouraged to relax and breathe evenly because relaxed body allows for a better flow of Qi. It is important for the Patient to stay comfortable and so the Practitioner will try to remain by patient’s side during the whole treatment. Once all needles are taken out, the Practitioner will take Patient’s pulses again and note any changes in the chart. This is usually how the treatment ends and the next one is scheduled. Treatments are usually kept one week or one month apart. In rare cases where faster progress is possible and necessary, the Practitioner will schedule appointments on two or three day intervals.

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