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What to expect during acupuncture

Acupuncture has long been a staple alternative medicine for many Eastern cultures. However, it is only relatively recently that acupuncture has been embraced by Western countries. As a result, many people are still unaware what exactly acupuncture entails.

Is acupuncture for me?
Acupuncture can assist with a range of ailments and illnesses. Acupuncture has been recognised for its ability to successfully treat diseases or symptoms of hypertension, knee pain, depression, morning sickness and arthritis. It has also been recognised for its potential to produce effective results for conditions such as insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome. Check with a practitioner to see if your ailment can be effectively treated with acupuncture.

What happens during acupuncture treatment?

During your initial consultation, the acupuncturist will gather a detailed medical history, including your family history and any presenting ailments. A pulse reading and tongue diagnosis will then be taken. These are staple diagnostic tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The practitioner will look for six pulses in each wrist and the colour, texture and coating of the tongue is also noted. The tongue and pulse are indicators of health and examining them will help the practitioner decide on the course of treatment.

Once a course of treatment has been decided, the acupuncture session will begin. Fine, disposable needles are inserted into acupoints on the body’s meridians. Meridians are energy channels that run throughout the body. You will then be left to rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the needles to work. Although you may feel a slight sensation, acupuncture is generally a painless experience. It is common for patients to experience a feeling of relaxation and even fall asleep after the needles have been put in.

Additional therapies
During your acupuncture session other techniques may also be incorporated based on your condition. These include moxibustion (burning a special herb), cupping (placing suction cups on the skin) and massage. After your treatment, the acupuncturist may also recommended Chinese herbs to assist with your treatment.

How many acupuncture sessions are needed?
The number of acupuncture sessions required will vary based on your condition. For chronic conditions, ongoing treatment may be needed. For acute problems, the treatment plan may be shorter; it may be just one or two sessions. Your practitioner will discuss your treatment plan with you and will adapt it based on your response.

How much will an acupuncture session cost?
The cost of an acupuncture session will vary, but generally treatments cost around $50–$80. Most health funds cover acupuncture and in some instances treatments can be claimed through Medicare.

Choosing an acupuncturist
Your choice of acupuncturist will be a personal decision. However, make sure you choose a practitioner who has the relevant qualifications. It may also be beneficial to look for one associated with a relevant professional bodies such as the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS), the Australian Natural Therapist Association (ANTA), the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) or the Australian Traditional Chinese Medicine Accreditation Board (ATCMAB).

Find a practitioner that offers acupuncture near you