How Long Does An Acupuncture Treatment Take ?

| March 3, 2010 | 0 Comments | 1,429 views
Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture Treatment

Why do most acupuncturists schedule 1½ hours or more for an initial acupuncture appointment? What exactly happens during the first visit that could possibly take that long? How long are the needles left in the patient? Do acupuncturists charge by the hour?

Although acupuncture approaches may vary from practitioner to practitioner, it is typically the case that an initial acupuncture treatment takes longer than follow-up treatments. In a nutshell, the first appointment takes longer because there is more ground to cover. During an initial visit, the practitioner will discuss with you your medical history and conduct a fairly thorough medical intake and exam. During the intake, your acupuncturist may take your pulse at the wrist and also look at your tongue, two important diagnostic parameters in Chinese medicine.

Many practitioners also take time to explain relevant acupuncture theory and answer any questions that you may have. In addition, some acupuncturists present a plan of care, explaining your "diagnosis" from a Chinese medicine perspective and discussing what outcome you may expect from treatment. Recommended lifestyle changes may also be discussed. Then, the acupuncture treatment actually begins. It's not uncommon for an initial acupuncture visit to last at least 1½ hours from start to finish.

Why is all of this necessary? If you go to see an acupuncturist for tennis elbow, why are you being subjected to such a lengthy and thorough intake? Why are you being asked about your sleep, energy level, digestion, and emotions? To appreciate this, it may help to take a step back and explain what is meant by a holistic approach. In Chinese medicine, all facets of your being are viewed as related and the practitioner's approach to treatment is heavily influenced by the health of your entire being.

Even though you may be receiving acupuncture to address elbow pain, a holistic approach involves understanding all aspects of your health. With this information, an acupuncturist seeks to determine why you are experiencing elbow pain at this time. Rather than view your elbow pain as a result of inflammation due to repetitive activity, an acupuncturist seeks to understand more. The acupuncturist seeks to understand why your repetitive activity results in inflammation and elbow pain for you. In other words, why is it that others may take part in the same (or more extreme) activity without experiencing inflammation and pain? What makes you more susceptible to this condition than others? Determining this answer involves looking at more than just the elbow.

For a follow-up treatment, less time is generally required. A medical intake or exam will often be much more focused and the practitioner will most likely not review your medical history. Usually, at follow-up appointments, the acupuncture practitioner wants to know how you've responded to the previous treatment and whether you've noticed any changes with regard to your main complaint. The acupuncturist may also take your pulse and/or look at your tongue. At this point, the practitioner usually has enough information to proceed with treatment. A typical follow-up acupuncture visit usually lasts between 45 and 60 minutes in total.

On average, after needles are inserted, they are retained in the patient (left in the patient) for approximately 20-25 minutes, regardless of whether it is an initial treatment or a follow-up treatment. Thus, the difference in time between initial visits and follow-ups is often a result of the communication between patient and practitioner as the acupuncturist gathers the data necessary to proceed with treatment. As one might expect, more information needs to be gathered from a new patient than from a familiar one.

As with most rules, there are occasional exceptions. A follow-up visit may take longer if a returning patient presents with a new complaint. In this case, the practitioner may conduct a more thorough medical exam and explain acupuncture treatment theory as it relates to this new complaint. As a result of additional questioning and dialogue, this type of appointment is typically longer than a regular follow-up visit (but shorter than an initial visit). Under normal circumstances, the complexity of the case and the practitioner's familiarity with the patient's current condition play a role in determining the length of the appointment.

In summary, Chinese medicine employs a holistic approach. Thus, an acupuncturist is trained to look at the complete individual to identify an imbalance and then proceed with treatment. This approach often results in fairly thorough questioning as well as other techniques, especially during the initial visit. In some cases, patients are surprised by the detailed level of questioning and the amount of time required. Yet, this approach has been practiced and taught for thousands of years. Believe it or not, it is one of the main reasons why acupuncture appeals to so many people, both patients and practitioner alike.

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Category: Acupuncture Courses, Acupuncture Treatment

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