What to expect: Your first acupuncture treatment

Image of acupuncture treatment room at Abba Anderson Acupuncture in Springfield, Missouri.
You’ll relax on a comfortable massage table in a peaceful treatment room and have a restful nap.

Because it’s a new experience, many people who are considering trying acupuncture for the first time feel some understandable trepidation. I want to assure you up front that your first acupuncture treatment will be a very pleasant experience!

Will it hurt? Usually not at all! Acupuncture needles are tiny, about the size of a hair. I was trained in gentle Japanese acupuncture techniques, and my clients are surprised to find that they don’t feel the needles at all. If you feel more than a tiny pinch, please let me know so I can remove or adjust the needle. I want you to feel completely comfortable during your treatment because part of acupuncture’s magic comes from the deep relaxation it induces.

Will I feel uncomfortable? Actually, you’ll likely feel relaxed and cozy and have a nice acupuncture nap! I want you to feel completely at ease during your treatment, so please let me know if there is any way I can help you feel more comfortable.

Some tips for de-stressing your first acupuncture treatment

Think about a positive intention for your treatment. Let yourself imagine your best future. It might be something like: “I am excited to see how much acupuncture will help me.”

Wear loose, comfortable clothing. It’s best to wear stretchy pants and sleeves that roll up easily, because I usually want to do points around your knees and elbows. You may also need to take your top and/or pants off so that I can put needles and cups on your back and legs. I’m respectful of modesty and will step out of the room while you change. There’s always a cozy blanket on the table for you to cover up with!

Eat a little something beforehand. Acupuncture can lower blood sugar, so eat a little something within a couple of hours before your appointment.

Come a little early to fill out some simple paperwork. Then we’ll talk about your goals for treatment and the relevant details.

Visit the restroom before you get on the table. It’s the last door down the hall on the right. Acupuncture tends to stimulate urination, so it’s also best to not drink a lot of liquids right before your treatment!

Then it’s relaxation time. You’ll lie down on a comfortable massage table and I’ll insert the needles, usually on your head, ears, arms, legs, and sometimes on your back and/or belly. People who are new to acupuncture are always surprised to find that it doesn’t hurt, and especially, that it is deeply relaxing.

Tune into your body. People usually experience interesting and relaxing sensations in their body during an acupuncture treatment. In the acupuncture world, we see these sensations as signs that the body is moving and healing. You may feel tingling, warmth, a pleasant heaviness, or a floating sensation. Know that these sensations are signs that healing is happening!

You may feel teary. And that’s a good thing, it means you’re releasing old painful emotions which are stored in the chemicals of our tears. I always have plenty of tissues!

Take it easy after you get acupuncture. It’s best if you can schedule your treatment so that you can relax afterwards, rather than rushing back into a busy day.

Pay attention to how you feel in the days after you get acupuncture. Most of my clients feel a significant improvement in symptoms during the first treatment. I’ll ask you for your symptom level on a scale of 1-10 before and after each treatment. A significant decrease in symptom level during at treatment is good indication that your body responds well to acupuncture. Every once in awhile, though not often, symptoms will briefly flare up in the days following an acupuncture treatment, after getting much better with acupuncture –  the good news is that is a sign that your symptoms are likely to get even better. In addition to feeling improvements in the symptoms you sought acupuncture to treat, you’ll probably feel better in other ways. Most folks sleep better and feel a sense of enhanced  mood and well-being after an acupuncture treatment. Most of my clients experience improvement during the first treatment, and you’ll usually get the most benefit from doing at least eight once-a-week treatments. Chronic or severe symptoms generally require more treatments than less severe symptoms and acute issues.


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