Exactly how much do I have to spend before I get the actual 'acupuncture'?
February 17, 2009 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe enough to get an acupuncture treatment on the first visit / consultation?

I called an acupuncture place in my area and they said that the first visit would be a consultation and I probably wouldn't actually get any needles stuck in me.
I really just want to get a taste of it and try it out. Should I just go to a place that is willing to stick me on the first date?
posted by GleepGlop to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Response by poster: Actually I might as well ask this as well: how many treatments before I might be able to tell if it's having any effect generally?
posted by GleepGlop at 12:01 PM on February 17, 2009

I use it for my headaches. I got stuck the first time. I went to a guy in Philly once who did a different style and did that consult first crap. Didn't like it and, well, not getting stuck meant not getting my headaches fixed.

I only go for recurrent things. My headaches stop for about 5 months each time. If your sickness isn't better or is one of the many things that won't respond to acu treatment, don't bother going again.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 12:15 PM on February 17, 2009

When I tried acupuncture for my headache, I got stuck on the first visit after a short consult. I didn't go for long, the acupuncturist herself said at some point, "If this were going to help, it would have done it by now." Maybe four or five visits.
posted by not that girl at 12:25 PM on February 17, 2009

An honest acupuncturist--they do exist, naysayers here to the contrary--will freely admit that needles are merely one tool that they use to do whatever it is that they do. Acupressure and other, more esoteric methods of manipulation are commonly employed. Some start out with these methods before moving to needles.
posted by valkyryn at 12:40 PM on February 17, 2009

Mod note: few comments removed - if you can phrase your answer in the form of something helpful, please do, otherwise go to metatalk, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2009

My friend the accupuncturist uses a LOT of information (personality, health history, diet etc.) to determine how she treats me, so I wouldn't be put off by their desire to have a complete consultation before sticking you.

Certainly, you can go to someone who will give you the quickstick, but that treatment may not be exactly as thoroughly considered as one that will take some time to get to know you and your needs.

I look at this the same way I looked at my clients when I was with a disability law firm. My boss told me to take things slow for them. Sure, I could bang out a boilerplate power of attorney for them in no time flat - but that would prevent me from getting to know them and other issues that they were potentially dealing with that we could help them with.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2009

it's not strange to have a consult before your first session, but ususally your first session is IMMEDIATELY after the consult. do you have to pay for both the consult AND the first appointment? if so, fuck that. so, while you should get a consult (it's important), it should be a part of your first appointment.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:39 PM on February 17, 2009

I've had acupuncture with about five different practitioners over the years for a variety of ailments, and have a friend who is an acupuncturist. It's (in my experience) not unusual to have a longer consultation at first where the practitioner takes down details of what's troubling you, checks your pulse, looks at your tongue and determines a course of treatment. What's NOT usual is for them to send you away without treatment at that first consult.

Regarding how many treatments before you feel an improvement, it depends on what it is that you're being treated for, on the acupuncturist, and on you as an individual, of course. But personally, with all but one practitioner, I've felt an immediate improvement, followed by more gradual improvement to complete wellness over the course of a few weeks. FWIW, the things I've been treated for are joint pain (noticed improvement immediately); exhaustion (immediate improvement, followed by more gradual improvements); PMT (subtle improvement straight away, gradually got better after a couple of months). For me, if I didn't feel at least a bit better after one treatment, I'd find someone else.

I'd also ask about the practitioner's credentials and maybe see if any friends could give a recommendation rather than picking someone from the phone book. Altho that could work out just fine, you never know!
posted by t0astie at 6:23 PM on February 17, 2009

None of the acupuncturists I know would send someone away after a consult without a treatment. Seems weird.
posted by pointilist at 9:41 PM on February 17, 2009

I've gone to two acupuncturists and both took a history and then treated me right away. In at least one case (I was being treated for morning sickness) she expected to see results after the first treatment. You should give feedback about what results you've experienced, if any, as that will help shape future treatments.

With morning sickness, I found acupuncture to help the first time around, but not the second. It didn't completely eliminate the problem but it made the following five to seven days more bearable.
posted by Herkimer at 6:09 AM on February 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, I will go along with the consultation and do my best to get some needles stuck in me no later than is necessary...
posted by GleepGlop at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2009

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