What To Expect At Your Acupuncture Therapy

It can be scary trying a new therapy especially one where needles are inserted into your body. However, having an idea what to expect can prepare you, which can reduce anxiety so that you can receive the maximum benefit. This article will help you by outlining what to expect so you can confidently go to your appointment and also help in case you are considering acupuncture therapy.

What Is Acupuncture?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), energy (qi) channels (meridians) run through the body. The meridians were plotted by early TCM practitioners who observed how inserting needles into different parts of the body resulted in a reaction in bodily functions.

When qi (pronounced chi) becomes clogged in the body from diet, environment, and other stimuli, health issues can arise. Acupuncture helps to unblock and improve the movement of energy through the body. Also, acupuncture and TCM are not just for when illnesses occur; they help to keep the body healthy and prevent diseases.

Research shows that it can be a beneficial treatment for many conditions. Some of them are headaches, relief from the side effects of menopause, knee and back pain, menstrual symptoms, and others. Acupuncturists are required to be licensed in most states.

The Acupuncture Appointment

Before the Appointment

  • Insurance – Many health insurance companies now cover acupuncture, so check with your insurance company to see if acupuncture is part of the plan.
  • Eat – Do not go to the appointment on an empty stomach. Acupuncture treatments on an empty stomach can sometimes cause lightheartedness or dizziness.
  • Clothing – Dress in loose-fitting clothing so the acupuncturist can reach the upper arms and thighs. Wear shorts and short-sleeved tops if possible. The acupuncturist will drape any areas where clothing may need to be removed, such as the back.


  • Intake Form – You will need to fill out an intake form that will ask for basic information like your address, etc. and your consent to be treated. There will also be questions about your health, medical conditions, and any medications you are taking. Be sure to answer all questions thoroughly.
  • Interview – Before the acupuncturist starts treatment, she will ask questions to get to know you and delve into health concerns, expectations, the reason for the visit, etc. To get a detailed view of your health, she will ask about sleeping patterns, digestion, the frequency of urination, emotional health, and other health-related questions. The more honest you answer the questions, the better she can diagnose and treat any medical issues.
  • The interview is also the time to ask the acupuncturist any questions you have and to express any concerns.


  • Pulse – She will take your pulse; taking the pulse is one of the foundations of TCM. Your pulse may be taken in several areas on both wrists, and the acupuncturist may even retake the pulse.
  • Tongue – Examining the tongue is also a cornerstone of TCM. The tongue is considered to reflect what is going on in the entire body. The color, shape, and coating are tell-tell signs of what is happening inside your body. It’s important not to brush or clean your tongue before your appointment.


Needles – The needles used in acupuncture are not the same as or resemble in any way hypodermic needles. They are made of surgical grade stainless steel, are the width of a couple strands of hair, and are flexible. In the U.S., needles are never reused; they are disposable.

Insertion of Needles – Based on the diagnosis, the therapist will insert needles along specific meridians. Because of the thinness and flexibility of the needles, most people don’t even feel them. The most you may feel is a slight prick.

The needles will stay in place for a few minutes. How long they are in depends on several factors, such as the reason for the treatment and TCM protocols.

Other Methods

Many acupuncturists are trained in other TCM practices that are like acupuncture. With your permission, they may also use acupressure, cupping (suctioning cups on the skin), moxibustion (heating skin), Chinese herbs, or Qi Gong (energy healing).

After the Visit

Some people feel a little lighthearted after their appointment. Drink some water to ground you and take a few minutes to reorient yourself before getting back into your routine. Also, the treatment will continue to work for several days afterward.

Repeat Visits

Most conditions require repeat visits. Your acupuncturist will discuss this with you.

Knowing what to expect at your first appointment can relieve your mind so that you can relax and enjoy your treatment. Yes, many people are so relaxed during their appointment they fall asleep on the treatment table.


9 Things You Should Know Before Your First Acupuncture Therapy. Retrieved from http://www.navacenter.com/community/article-library/browse/2016/11/21/9-things-you-should-know-before-your-first-acupuncture-therapy

Grey, Eric, Lac. 10 Things You Should Expect From Your First Acupuncture Appointment. Retrieved from http://www.watershedwellnesspdx.com/10-things-you-should-expect-from-your-first-acupuncture-appointment/.

How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain and Improve Sleep, Digestion and Emotional Well-being. Retrieved from Pain Relief

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