During your first visit with me, I need to gain a thorough understanding of your main complaint and your general health and lifestyle. This involves asking questions about your current symptoms and your medical history, as well as such things as your sleeping pattern, your appetite and digestion, and your emotional wellbeing. Women are also asked about their menstrual cycle and any past pregnancies and childbirth.
You might feel that some questions appear unrelated to your condition but the information you give helps your practitioner to form a more complete picture of your health and lifestyle. I will also take your pulse on both wrists and may examine your tongue and feel for areas of muscular tension or pain.
Your Main Health Complaint
When talking about your main complaint, I might ask you to describe in your own words what the symptoms feel like and how severe they are. You may also be asked how long you have been having the symptoms, whether they are constant or intermittent and how frequent they are. You should mention any medication that you are taking and whether you have tried any other therapies.
In order to make a diagnosis according to traditional Chinese medicine theory and to find the right treatment approach, I will also want to know more specific details.
Treatment plan and treatment
Based on all the information you have given, I will make a diagnosis and put together your treatment plan, which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture. I will use very fine, single-use, pre-sterilised needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians range across the whole body, the points used are not necessarily close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.
As well as needling acupuncture points, I may use other Chinese medicine techniques such as:
- moxibustion: heat is applied to an acupuncture point or meridian using moxa (a therapeutic herb) and/or heat lamps to warm and relax muscles and qi
- cupping: glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant qi
With a background in health coaching and nutrition, it is likely I will suggest ways in which you can enhance the long-term effects of your treatment. This may involve making changes to your diet and daily routine. If necessary you will be referred to other healthcare practitioners for specialist care.