What To Expect During Your First Office Visit
 
On a first visit, we spend anywhere from one to one and a half hours to get a complete, accurate diagnosis, since that’s the key to ensuring you receive the best treatment. We discuss the main reason you’re seeking treatment, your medical and general health history, diet, level and type of exercise you get, your work, family, and emotional considerations. Next, I take your pulses, observe your tongue, and possibly include other physical examination. You may bring in the results of any western medical lab tests, x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, but these things are not required, being of limited use to the process of Chinese diagnostics. They may, however, serve as a point of reference during your course of treatment.
 
Once the diagnosis is made, we discuss what combination of treatment procedures will work best for you, the approximate number of treatments you may expect, and you then receive your first acupuncture treatment. I use pre-sterilized, single-use disposable needles only. Although some needling sensation is desirable, indicating the arrival of the qi at the acupuncture point, it’s typically not painful. The needling sensations vary some from patient to patient, and are influenced by the location of the acupoint. Hands, feet, and ears tend to be more sensitive. Most patients report a mild sensation, like a pinch, a heaviness, a swelling sensation, or a dull ache, but even a stronger sensation will usually last only a second or two. Frequently, there is little or no discernible sensation. The needles are left in for approximately 20 minutes. Additional adjunctive therapies may be applied during this time.
 
If we include Chinese herbs as part of your treatment, I’ll select the appropriate formula for you. I have a small pharmacy of Chinese herbal tablets in my office, and you may begin using one of those formulas right away. If we’ve decided on raw herbs or granules, that formula will usually be ready for you on your second visit.
 
Since what we eat influences our health on a daily basis, as a matter of course for most patients I include some basic diet and nutrition counseling from both Chinese and Western  perspectives. When requested, I provide more detailed, personalized dietary and nutritional supplement recommendations during a subsequent visit.
 
The entire first visit may last between one and a half to two hours. Follow-up visits take between 45 minutes and an hour. For most health issues, follow-up visits are recommended at once a week intervals. For more serious conditions, more frequent visits may be needed.
 
Restorative exercises may be taught to interested patients during future visits, or as part of a weekly group class. These exercises are individualized to address your specific health needs, and are drawn from Chinese and other self-care traditions. Since stress is recognized as the cause of an ever-increasing number of diseases, stress-reducing practices may also be taught.



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