What Happens at a Treatment?

Kath will use a number of different diagnostic methods to get a complete picture of your health and lifestyle, including taking a full medical history, reading your pulses and looking at your tongue.  

Based on this information, she will make a diagnosis and put together your personal treatment plan.  Acupuncture points are selected according to your symptoms.  

The single-use sterile needles come in sealed packs; they will be opened in front of you and disposed of after each treatment.

Before having acupuncture treatment

Before your first acupuncture session there are several things you should bear in mind:

  • many commonly used acupuncture points are located on the lower arms and legs, so it is helpful to wear clothing that allows easy access to these areas
  • try not to go for treatment on an empty stomach or straight after a heavy meal
  • let Kath know if you are completely new to acupuncture so she can take extra time to explain what happens and ensure you are comfortable with the process.

Your first consultation

During your first visit Kath will 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 to form a complete picture of your health and lifestyle. She 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, Kath 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, she will also want to know more specific details.

Treatment plan and treatment


Based on all the information you have given, Kath will make a diagnosis and put together your treatment plan, which may include lifestyle and dietary advice as well as acupuncture. She 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, Kath may also 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

  • tuina: Chinese therapeutic massage relieves muscle tension, stimulates acupressure points, opens energy meridians and stimulate the flow of qi

  • cupping: glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant qi

  • guasha: vigorous rubbing of the skin increases blood flow and clears stagnant qi.

Lifestyle advice

Kath is likely to 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. 


Most people find acupuncture relaxing and often feel very calm after a treatment. You may feel a little tired or sleepy and should take this into account if you are planning to drive or use heavy machinery straight after your treatment.

You should refrain from vigorous exercise after treatment and, ideally, give yourself a little time to rest. It is also advisable not to drink alcohol for several hours after treatment.

Side Effects

Acupuncture has very few side effects and any that do occur are usually mild and self-correcting.  As mentioned above, you may feel a little tired or sleepy.