What To Expect (FAQ)
Please find some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about our clinic below. If you have questions about acupuncture, you should check out our Acupuncture FAQ page.
+ What should I do to prepare for a treatment?
- The first thing to do is download our Registration Form and Consent Form so you can complete them at your convenience prior to your appointment. We've worked hard to make them brief, concise and as painless as possible for you. If you're unable to print/complete the forms in advance, please arrive about 15-20 minutes in advance of your appointment to complete the paperwork in our waiting area.
- Regardless of when you fill out the paperwork, there is a section where you need to provide the medications you're taking and what they're for so please be prepared for that.
- We recognize that your time is valuable. Therefore, we ask that you make every effort to arrive on time for your first appointment since we do our best to see you at your scheduled appointment time. Please leave plenty of time for you to locate us, park etc. and still arrive before your scheduled appointment time. If you are more than 20 minutes late for your first appointment, we may need to reschedule it.
- Wear loose comfortable clothing. We work primarily with distal points (points located from the elbows to the fingers, the knees to the toes, and on the head and ears). This means you you should be able to roll up your sleeves/pants to your elbows/knees so we have access to those areas of the body. If you need to change when you get here, we have a bathroom, but don't have a designated changing area.
- For best results, we suggest that you refrain from alcohol, coffee or other caffeinated beverages at least 3 hours before your appointment.
- Please eat a little something beforehand, but avoid a heavy meal. Do not arrive stuffed or hungry. Heavy meals can cause nausea. An empty stomach can be the cause of dizziness after treatment or feeling faint (and even fainting) during treatment.
- As a courtesy to our allergy patients, we ask that you do not wear perfumes or colognes, or smoke cigarettes at least two hours beforehand, when coming to the clinic.
+ OK. Anything else?
- Please remember that you are being treated at a community acupuncture clinic. This means that other people will be receiving treatment at the same time as you in the same open room. The space is quiet and peaceful, with low lighting, white noise machines and soft music so it's important that all patients keep their voices low while in the clinic. This also means we ask all patients to turn off or silence their cell phones in the clinic.
- If you would like, you may bring your mp3 player and earbuds, or a book to read, although most people find the treatment too relaxing to read.
- Occasionaly, you will find other patients may be snoring or you will hear whispering between the acupuncturist and other patients. Although the white noise machines and music do a decent job muffling noise, installing a 'Cone of Silence' is not in our budget so you may wish to bring earplugs.
- Plan to be at the clinic for about 60-75 minutes. Follow up treatments may not take as long.
- Don’t plan to engage in any strenuous activity after receiving acupuncture. Gentle exercise, such as tai chi, gentle yoga or walking, is best.
+ What will my first treatment be like?
- Upon entering the waiting room, you will find instructions for both New and Returning patients.
- You will also see clipboards with New Patient Paperwork (Registration Form & Consent Form) for you to complete. If you were unable to download & complete the forms ahead of time, you can have a seat and complete the paperwork using the provided marker.
- After completing your paperwork, the acupuncturist will greet you in the waiting area and provide you with a brief clinic orientation. Unlike your typical physician's office, you should not be waiting very long, if at all.
- The acupuncturist will spend time with you reviewing your paperwork and most likely ask some additional questions about the reason you're coming in for treatment, your goals and how acupuncture can help you achieve them.
- At some point the acupuncturist will escort you into the open treatment room and to one of the comfy recliners where you will remove your socks & shoes and roll up your sleeves/pants to your elbows/knees. You can put your shoes and other personal belongings into the basket provided at each chair. This serves as a sign to the acupuncturist that you are ready for treatment. After doing so, you can recline in the chair to receive your acupuncture treatment.
- Shortly after the needles are inserted, most people begin to feel very relaxed and experience a sense of calm. Some people are very nervous before their first treatment and we get that. It's OK! We will be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions as we go along. It won't be long before you realize what many of your neighbors have learned before you - that the process is much easier and more gentle than they ever expected!
+ Do I have to take my clothes off?
Absolutely not! By and large all it takes to get ready for treatment is to remove your socks/shoes and roll up your pant legs and shirt sleeves, as points on the lower arms and legs are the most powerful and most commonly used.
Occasionally, we may need to have access to areas just above the knee or up to the shoulder joint, in which case we'd ask you to wear shorts, tank top or tee shirt. We will also ask your permission before treating any points on your abdomen.
+ How long will my treatment last?
Please plan to be at the clinic for about 60-75 minutes for your first treatment. Follow-up treatments may not take as long. It's difficult to pinpoint an exact time since it varies from person to person.
Let us try to explain:
- In most cases, people drift into a deep state of calm and may even take a nap. But don't fret if you don't fall asleep. The needles are still working regardless. We suggest that you avoid focusing on your to-do list, checking your phone or engaging in conversation with your neighbors etc. For many, just closing their eyes and focusing on their breath or visualizing their 'happy place' is pretty much all it takes to get into that relaxed state.
- At some point you may get a little anxious or have a sense that you want to get on about your day. You may even feel a need to use the rest room. These are the most common signs that you are "done" or "cooked". At that point just make visual contact with the acupuncturist who will then remove your needles.
- If it is your first visit, the acupuncturist will provide you with a treatment plan based on your condition and goals.
- Now you're free to take your time to gather yourself, stretch like a cat awaking from a nap or whatever, before you decide to put on your socks & shoes. Then you can quietly gather your belongings and get on your way.
- If you feel the urge, please use the bathroom and feel free to hang out and grab some water in the waiting room as well.
+ What should I do following my treatment?
- Book your next appointment - according to the plan discussed with your acupuncturist.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. Drink plenty of water.
- Rest is preferable. Make the day as easy as possible avoiding strenuous activity for the rest of the day.
- If possible, avoid activities that could aggravate or make your symptoms worse.
- Pay Attention. For the first 24-48 hours after treatment it's a good idea to pay attention to the way you feel with regard to the main condition(s) you sought treatment for (e.g. Has the condition changed at all in frequency or intensity or area affected or a combination of the three? How long did the improvement last?) so you can report back to the acupuncturist at your next appointment.
- Take inventory of other aspects of your health as well. Many who receive acupuncture report benefits such as being in a better mood, feeling relaxed, having increased energy, improved digestion and improved sleep. Sometimes, other conditions, which may seem secondary to your main complaint, will start to resolve before significant improvement to the main complaint is observed.
- After treatment, you may observe a sore, achy, numb or tingling sensation near where the needles were inserted and, occasionally, even a bruise. These complications are often minor and short-lived, but please contact us if you are concerned about anything.
- Please also note that in approximately 3-5% of folks, the issue they sought treatment for could intensify for about 24 hours (a sign that we're getting things to budge, or shift), followed by great relief.
+ How many treatments do I need?
We wish there was a simple answer to this, but the honest-to-goodness answer is that, "It depends." It depends upon many factors such as the nature of your condition, how long you've had the condition, the intensity or frequency of symptoms, relationship of the condition to environmental or lifestyle conditions and, of course, what your goals are. Since acupuncture stimulates the body's innate ability to nourish and heal itself, your body's constitution can also play a role.
- Acupuncture is a PROCESS. It is rare for anyone to experience complete, long-term resolution of a problem with only one treatment. Most people need a series of treatments in order to get good results and maintain those results - similar to how one pill prescribed by your doctor won't do much by itself and, if it does, the effects may not last long.
Acupuncture has a cumulative effect so the closer together your treatments are spaced the more powerful, effective and long-lasting the results tend to be. This is why most conditions require some closely spaced treatments in the beginning followed by treatments spread further apart as progress is made.
- During your initial treatment, the acupuncturist will assess your specific condition and situation in order to best determine a treatment plan that works best for you. This pdf is an example of the Treatment Plan, a graphic explanation of the Stages of Acupuncture and other information you will receive during your initial treatment.
- For more insight, check out this table entitled How Often Should I Come In For Treatment? It's a pretty good reference outlining treatment plans for a variety of conditions.
- A general rule of thumb is that acute disorders or severe pain require more frequent treatments, often 2-4 times per week until symptoms are reduced, at which time we will spread out the frequency of treatment and gradually phase it out until it reaches what we call a 'maintenance' stage. Chronic disorders usually require treatments 1-2 times a week until symptoms are reduced, but generally take longer to address than acute disorders.
It is important to note that progress does not happen at the same rate for everything and everyone. Some symptoms can change quickly while others take longer to budge. Conversely, some that move quickly at first can then move at a slower pace for further improvement.
When it comes to pain and similar conditions where progress is easily observed by the patient, we can have multiple people with the same complaint, such as back pain or headaches, experience relief in different ways. After starting a course of acupuncture treatment, people usually see a change in a varying combination of three areas:
- Size of the Area Affected
Although a small number of people experience improvement in only one of these areas before seeing improvement in the other two, most people experience changes of varying degrees in a combination of these areas.
+ How do my follow-up appointments differ from my first visit?
Returning patients go through a slightly different process.
After using the Invisible Receptionist (self-pay station), returning patients can go directly into the treatment room (quietly and after turning off your phone, of course). Once in the treatment room pick a chair and prepare for treatment by removing your socks/shoes and rolling up your sleeves/pant legs. This is a sign to the acupuncturist that you are ready for treatment. Then, just lean back and the acupuncturist will be right with you to begin treatment.
+ Do you take walk-ins or do I really need to make an appointment?
While we encourage everyone to book their apointment in advance, we are often able to accommodate walk-ins.
We understand that you don’t always know ahead of time when you can get in and that some days life gives you some unexpected free time. We also know that sometimes you may be driving or going about your day when your body whispers in your ear that it needs some acupuncture! We get it and we want to be there for you when you need us.
Although we do our best to accommodate walk-ins whenever possible, please understand that doing so may result in you having to wait a little, or longer, while we treat the people who have appointments first. Walking in at the very end of the shift may also result in a shorter-than-usual treatment since our acupuncturist starts pulling needles about 45 minutes or so after the last appointment slot.