Based on all the information you have given, the practitioner will make a diagnosis and put together your treatment plan, which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture. Your practitioner will use very fine single-use pre-sterilised needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians range across the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.
As well as needling acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncturist may use other Chinese medicine techniques such as:
Moxibustion: heat is applied to an acupuncture point or meridian using moxa (a therapeutic herb) to warm and relax muscles and Qi. It can be applied directly to the acupuncture point or on top of the acupuncture needle.
Tuina: Chinese therapeutic massage relieves muscle tension, stimulates acupressure points, opens energy meridians and stimulate the flow of Qi
Cupping: glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant Qi
Guasha: vigorous rubbing of the skin increases blood flow and clears stagnant Qi.
Your acupuncturist is likely to suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment. This may involve making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care. After-effects
Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel a little tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use heavy machinery straight after your treatment.
You should refrain from vigorous exercise after treatment and ideally, give yourself a little time to rest. It is also advisable not to drink alcohol for several hours after treatment.
Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting. Cupping and Guasha can sometimes temporarily mark the skin. Such bruising is painless and generally clears within a day or two.