What should you know about acupressure?
Acupuncture is becoming a mainstream as an alternative, or a complementary therapy, to standardized western medicine. But the fact is that numerous first-time acupressure patients don’t have a clue what to expect on their very first visit to an acupuncturist.
Moreover, with the various styles of acupuncture available, and the wide variety of techniques applied by the licensed acupuncturists, there may be some differences among acupuncturists. Still, this is the common knowledge they all agree about:
- Acupuncture treats more than pain
Acupuncturists find it ironic when patients cancel appointments because they are sick! According to the World Health Organization (abbreviated as WHO),not only can an acupuncture treatment help with the common cold and stomach viruses, but it is also helpful with a wide variety of health problems including: mental and emotional stress, cancer, skin diseases, neurological disorders, dental problems, infections, childbirth, and gout, to mention but a few.
Don’t go for acupuncture on an empty stomach!
An important point [that your acupuncturist may have forgotten to tell you] is that you should have some food within a few hours before the treatment. Note that it isn’t necessary to have a full meal, but at least a snack that can help your body have enough energy to maximize the treatment’s potential.
Note well: receiving acupuncture on an empty stomach may lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, or even fainting.
3. Did you know that you may not need to remove your clothes to receive acupuncture like you would for a massage?
Although an acupuncturist may need to access areas under your clothes, they will properly ‘wrap you’ so that only small portions of skin remain exposed. However, they do recommend wearing loose clothing so that sleeves can be rolled up above the elbows, and pants’ legs can be pulled up above the knees.
- You may be asked to show your tongue, have your pulse taken and have your abdomen pressed
Acupuncturists are reasonably interested in the condition of your internal organs, so by using these methods they can determine the best treatment for you. Also, similarly to reflexology on hands and feet, different areas of the tongue, radial pulse, and abdomen correspond to different organ systems inside the body.
5. Well… you can expect embarrassing questions too!
In addition to physical examination, most acupuncturists will ask you questions about various topics regarding your health and lifestyle. Often, these questions will include asking for detailed descriptions of your bowel movements, urination, and menstruating of women. The more details you are able to give, the better their diagnosis! So it is worth paying heed to it, if you haven’t done it just yet, of course.
6. Acupuncture ‘pins and needles’ are much thinner than hypodermic needles
If the thought of needles turns you off, keep in mind that needles used for acupuncture are about the width of 2-3 hairs, and are actually quite flexible. People are often taken by surprise how little they feel both at insertion of the needles, and after they are put in place. In fact, it is not uncommon for clinics to be full of snoring patients!
- Acupuncturists don’t reuse needles
If you are getting treated in the United States, the needles your acupuncturist uses on you have never been used on other patients. This means that there is virtually no chance you can contract a disease from receiving acupuncture. Because the needles are made of very thin [and flexible, surgical grade] stainless steel it means that they will cause less pain.
8. Acupuncturists use more than needles
Needles may be their main tool, yet most acupuncturists have learned a variety of other therapies falling into ‘Chinese Medicine’ domain, such as acupressure (pressure instead of needles over acupuncture points), tuina (massage), guasha (scraping of the skin), cupping (suction of the skin), moxibustion (heating of the skin), Chinese herbs or qi gong (energy healing). Depending on their training, your diagnosis, and your comfort level, you may get ‘more than just needles’ at your visit.
- One treatment is often not enough to eliminate your pain
So your acupuncturist will most likely recommend subsequent treatments. There are some insurance plans that have added acupuncture to their list of services, so make sure to check with your insurance provider if acupuncture treatment is something they reimburse. Indeed, many acupuncturists can provide you with a bill to submit to your insurance carrier, so you can get reimbursement just as for any other medical treatment.
Knowing beforehand what to expect at your first acupuncture appointment can both ease your mind and bring up questions to pose early on so that surprises are ruled out. Communication is the key, so if there is ever anything that is even mildly physically [or otherwise] uncomfortable during a treatment, be sure to speak up. The acupuncture is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing visit, so if your treatment is anything but that, your acupuncturist should know so that the situation can be remedied.
10. Finally, if you are still afraid of needles, you can still relieve yourself of the 2 most common complaints of our modern-day living: headache and stress.
This is how you do this simple acupressure self-treatment:
1 Squeeze relatively tightly the fleshy point between your thumb and your forefinger, called the Hoku spot in the traditional Chinese medicine.
2. If you apply firm pressure here for only 30 seconds, you can instantly relieve yourself from stress, tension, and headache accumulated during the day.
3. Press and hold the point until the pain subsides, that is until you start feeling your muscles loosened and relaxed.