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How can traditional acupuncture help me?
Traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than the specific symptoms in isolation, so it can be effective for a range of conditions, from clearly defined complaints to more general feelings of ill health and low energy. In 2009 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS, as a cost-effective short-term treatment for the management of early, persistent non-specific lower back pain. For more information on the scientific research into the effectiveness of acupuncture for different medical conditions please look at the British Acupuncture Council research fact sheets or just give Sarah a call.
What should I expect in the first session?
This is called the "Traditional Diagnosis". Over about 90 minutes the practitioner will ask questions about your current symptoms and your medical and family history. Your general health will be assessed with questions about sleep, diet, digestion and emotional issues. The acupuncturist will take your pulses on both wrists and look at your tongue. The pulses are compared for strength, quality and rhythm. The answers to the questions and the pulse and tongue diagnosis are used to devise a safe and effective treatment. This helps the acupuncturist to treat at the level of the root cause of the problem so that your symptoms improve overall rather than looking for a "quick fix".
What should I expect from treatment?
Normal treatments will last about 45 minutes. There will be a short discussion about your condition since the last treatment so the practitioner can formulate the day’s treatment plan. A few needles will be used which may be left in for 15-20 minutes or removed instantly. There are points all over the body and they may not be used near the problem area itself. For example, if you suffer with headaches it is common to have needles inserted in the hands or feet.
How much treatment will I need?
Everyone is different so it is difficult to say exactly how many treatments you will need. It is usual to have a course of treatment and most patients notice changes after 4-6 sessions. You will probably have weekly treatments until your symptoms have significantly improved then treatments can be spaced out. Eventually you may choose to come for "preventative" treatment once every few months to stop the symptoms returning and maintain your overall wellbeing.
Additional treatment techniques
Acupuncturists may supplement treatment with moxa, a herb that gently smoulders. This can be used on the needle or directly on the skin to warm a specific acupuncture point, or in a stick to warm a larger area. Cupping is another technique that may be used to help move energy in a local problem area. These suction cups produce a deep sensation like an intense massage.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are nothing like the needles used for taking blood samples or giving injections. They are very fine, solid needles which are not usually felt as they go through the skin. However, you will feel a sensation as the needle reaches the acupuncture point and starts to work. This sensation is described in different ways such as a dull ache, tingling or heavy sensation.
What will I feel like after treatment?
Most people feel relaxed and calm after treatment. You may feel tired or drowsy after the first treatment or if it is particularly strong. Treatment may enhance your feeling of wellbeing as well as resolve your main health complaint.
Acupuncture and conventional medicine
If you are currently receiving treatment from your doctor it is sensible to mention that you plan to have acupuncture. Your acupuncturist will need to know about any medication you are taking.

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