A. On you first visit your acupuncturist will first ask you to sign documents. Some of these are required by NYS law and others are required by federal law. He or she may also ask you to sign documents relating to insurance and general intake forms regarding your medical history.
He or she will then spend time with you to learn about many aspects of your life. To best understand you condition, your acupuncturist will ask a series of questions – commonly referred to as the 10 Questions. Often patients do not understand why so much information is gathered and how it relates to the particular condition for which they are seeking treatment. While it may seem that some of the questions are far afield, the fact is the theories by which acupuncture is practiced are based on a significant interdependence and interaction between all systems of the body. As a result, a seemingly unrelated or insignificant piece of information, may in fact be very important to the practitioners understanding of your situation. Be patient and try your best to provide as much detailed information as possible.
In addition, the practitioner will generally observe your physical appearance and overall demeanor, will look at your tongue, take your pulse and may palpate different parts of your body. The tongue and pulse observation is unlike that which you have experienced with your doctor. Your acupuncturist is actually obtaining information about specific organ and system functions.
The pulse taking is diagnostic and depending on how the pulse feels the acupuncturist can make certain assessments about your overall health and your particular condition. The pulse has three different positions and three different levels. By observing each level and position your acupuncturist can identify one of 28 classical pulses. From that information a more accurate diagnosis can be made.
Similarly, when observing your tongue, your acupuncturist gathers more information. Different parts of the tongue are associated with different organs. The tip represents the heart, the sides represent the liver and gallbladder and so forth. Your acupuncturist will look at your tongue color, texture, moisture, shape, length and tongue coat. Each of these factors will provide more information about you and allow the acupuncturist to refine his or her diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis is made, then a treatment plan is developed, including an acupuncture point prescription. The prescription involves the selection of specific points for your treatment. Other consideration will include the techniques to be used. These include the application of heat, or the use of an herb known as moxa, or the use of other modalities such as cupping or gua sha. Each has a different purpose and your acupuncturist will determine which are appropriate for you.
Your acupuncturist will discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan with you and may request some participation from you in your healing process. He or she will set a treatment schedule and you will be well on your way to improved health.