Traditional Chinese Acupuncture: What to expect

What is Traditional Acupuncture?

Traditional Acupuncture (TA) treatment is different from a western medicine style appointment.  The acupuncturist has trained in the Eastern-based philosophy of health.  At your first appointment, expect a review of your full health history.  This may include questions about your digestion, menstruation, mental health, as well as injury, illness and surgical history.  The goal of taking a full, in-depth, health history is to get a whole picture of your overall well being.  This whole picture helps make an Eastern-based diagnosis for your current situation.  From there, the appropriate acupuncture points are chosen to use.  
Traditional Acupuncture takes a whole body approach, instead of a focus on a specific area, which can be more common in Western-based medicine.  An example is someone who books an appointmnet for tight shoulders and neck pain.  The symptoms could be caused by injury like whiplash, or from overuse by being hunched over a computer all day.  From a Traditional Acupuncture perspective, the symptoms could be caused by stress or poor circulation from low blood levels.  Traditional Acupuncture aims to work at the direct cause, or root of the issue, rather than just treating the pain or branch of the issue.  
What should I expect when I book a Traditional Acupuncture appointment?
Expect your first appointment to take a full hour to cover the time for health history and a treatment.  Along with needles, the acupuncturist may choose to use ear seeds, cupping, heat and/or massage techniques to alleviate the problem.  
Make sure to eat something prior to your treatment and be prepared to potentially feel achy, sore or tired after the treatment.  Each person responds differently to needling so there is no way to predict your reaction.  
Wear loose fitting clothes that can easily be rolled up to elbows or knees as well as be prepared to remove some clothes, similar to what you would do for massage.  This will depend on the area being needled.  
Afterwards, be sure to drink lots of water and rest if that is what your body is feeling.  Traditional acupuncture treatments are designed to be a very relaxing experience to settle down your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response).