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Acupuncture is a safe treatment for all with the exception of moderate to severe Haemophiliacs. Although it is not typical for acupuncture to cause bleeding, it can occur occasionally. Some people may have acupuncture because they want a natural approach to managing illness and working towards wellbeing. Others choose it as a preventive measure to help them feel better in themselves generally or because they feel unwell in themselves with an absence of diagnosis. Others come to acupuncture because all else has failed!

Acupuncture can safely be used alongside conventional medicine in the treatment of some acute and chronic disease. As with any therapy, the response to acupuncture can differ from one person to another. This is due to each diagnosis being very specific to the patient.

Charlotte and Tom also treat children, where they find that acupressure rather than needles can sometimes be more appropriate.

What does it feel like?

Most people’s experience of needles is of those used in injections and blood tests. Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these. They are much finer, similar to the width of a human hair and are solid rather than hollow.

When the needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache. Needles are inserted either for a second or two, or may be left in place for 30 minutes or more, depending on the effect required. During and after treatment, patients commonly experience a pleasant feeling of relaxation.

What will happen on my first visit?

Your first consultation may be longer than subsequent sessions. The acupuncturist will assess your general state of health through a series of questions. This will help identify the underlying pattern of disharmony, in order to give you the most effective treatment.
You will be asked about your current symptoms and what treatment you have received so far, your medical history, your diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state.

The acupuncturist is likely to feel your pulses on both wrists, noting their quality, rhythm and strength. This allows the acupuncturist to ascertain the internal workings of the organs and the general state of health of a person. The structure, colour and coating of your tongue also give a good guide to your physical health.

Once enough information has been gathered to determine the likely causes of your problems, the acupuncturist can select the most appropriate treatment. The aim is to discover which energy channels and organs need treatment for your specific complaint to improve.

Please be aware that the acupuncturist may need to access points on your front and back as well as on your arms and legs. A gown or blanket will be provided if this is necessary.

Acupuncture points chosen may not be close to the part of the body where the problem is experienced, yet will still be treating it. For example, although you may suffer from headaches, needles could be inserted in your foot or hand.

There are around 500 acupuncture points on the body, and a properly trained and experienced acupuncturist will use a selection of perhaps five to ten of these for each treatment. It is quite usual that, during a course of treatment, different points will be selected as the patient’s condition changes.

The acupuncturist may supplement the needle treatment with a smoldering herb that is used to warm acupuncture points, to further stimulate the effect of treatment. This procedure is known as moxabustion. Another method of stimulating the acupuncture points may involve using electro-acupuncture. This is when a tens machine is used to send a small vibration through the inserted needle. This style of treatment is very effective for pain management and is completely painless. Massage, acupressure or tapping with a rounded probe, are techniques particularly suitable for small children or for people with a fear of needles. Although often if the needle is fine enough, it can be inserted with no sensation experienced whatsoever. Cupping is another style of treatment sometimes used for injury, pain or viral infections. This involves putting suction cups over acupuncture points in order to manipulate an area to bring about change. Auricular acupuncture is another way of administering acupuncture. This is where needles are inserted into the ears.

How often will I need treatment?

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) philosophy each person is considered as unique, and therefore the number of treatments required depends on the individual.

Sometimes the effects of the treatment are dramatic, and only one or two treatments are required. With other patients, the effects are less dramatic initially or the pathology more complex, and therefore more treatment may be required over several months.

Normally you are recommended to visit your acupuncturist once a week at first for six sessions, although some conditions may need less frequent attention. By committing to six weekly sessions, the treatment has enough time to work. Remember, of course that the aim of Chinese medicine is to correct the root cause not just the symptoms.

Is it safe?

All members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) must observe a Code of Practice, which lays down stringent standards of hygiene and sterilisation for needles and other equipment. These procedures have been approved by the Department of Health, and provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases. See acupuncture.org.uk.