An acupuncture session is a very fluid process. Initially, I look at the color of your tongue and check the quality of the pulse (both wrists) to find imbalance in your body. Based on the findings, I have a vague idea of how to go about correcting the imbalance and address your main issues (e.g., pain, digestive problems).
In most cases, the first points used are on the arms and legs. I use these combination of four points to address different zones of the body. A great teacher in the acupuncture school I attended conveyed that those points were like an introduction of a song. They set the tone of the treatment.
The second group of points are selected to address imbalance. If the condition is due to anemia or adrenal exhaustion, it is a deficient condition. If it is a case of an acute injury, it is an excess condition. These are just few examples. Depending on whether it is deficient or excess, the points are selected accordingly.
The patients lie on the back in the first portion even if the issue is back pain and rest for 15 to 20 minutes. A lot of people take naps during acupuncture.
After this phase, the pulse is checked again to see if the imbalance is corrected. When the imbalance is corrected, your body will recover from an injury or a chronic condition better.
At this point, I normally address the main issue. This point is about 20 minutes from the start. When treating pain and tightness, several techniques are used. The most common one is what it looks like “pecking” into the painful or tight areas. This technique releases the tension.
Speaking of the techniques, I use the technique called “superficial rotation” for sensitive patients or sensitive areas. With this technique, needles do not penetrate the skin, but they are rotated fast on the surface of the skin. I find this technique very useful for treating palms, fingers, soles and other sensitive areas. Sensitive and highly reactive patients enjoy the subtlety of this technique. I sometimes use this technique for the whole treatment on some patients.
It is interesting to note that most painful or tight area are on the back of the body (e.g., neck, low back, shoulders). For this reason, about 80 % of the patients lie on the stomach for the second phase of the session. They also rest for 15 to 20 minutes lying on the stomach and nap.
I always end the session with massage and stretch. Typically, 3 weekly sessions are recommended to make the treatments stick. After the initial hardship is relieved, most of my clients come in for maintenance as needed. That could be monthly, quarterly, or literally as needed.