What can you expect at your first appointment?
Attending a first appointment with an osteopath or acupuncturist can be daunting, but there’s really no need to worry!
Actually, the most difficult bit is already done – recognising that you need help and making an appointment, or at least deciding to do so. As you’ll probably be paying for the appointment yourself, making the most out of it will be your priority, so here are a few tips to help you through the process.
- Most people self-refer to an osteopath or acupuncturist and pay fees themselves. If you have private health insurance you might be able to claim for treatment but talk to your insurance company first, in case you need to be referred by your GP or a specialist.
- Allow 30-45 minutes for an appointment.
- Remove all jewellery (apart from your wedding ring) and wristwatches.
- Wear comfortable clothing. I generally provide a gown for my osteopathic clients to change into if necessary. For acupuncture appointments, it’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to acupuncture points on arms and legs.
- You can take a friend or relative to be present throughout the appointment and children should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The appointment itself
Taking a case history: I will ask you to complete a form about your overall health and the condition that brought you to me. You’ll also be asked to fill in a GDPR form, to confirm in writing that you give your agreement for me to record and store this information in confidential case notes. As an acupuncturist, I may also probe more deeply into other areas such as your sleeping pattern, appetite and digestion, menstrual cycle, pregnancies and childbirth and emotional wellbeing.
The physical examination: During an acupuncture appointment, I will take your pulse, examine your tongue and locate any areas of pain or tension. As an osteopath I’ll will ask you to move and stretch so I can observe your general mobility and posture. I will also feel your joints and soft tissues (including muscles, ligaments, fascia and tendons) to assess their health.
The diagnosis: I will explain my findings and discuss treatment options with you and we’ll agree a treatment plan together. This will usually begin immediately unless I recommend that further tests, such as blood tests or scans, are done first. If I feel that you have an underlying condition that I cannot treat, I may advise you to visit your GP or a hospital.
Treatment: I may use a combination of osteopathy and acupuncture, depending on what the patient requires. For osteopathy this involves skilled manipulation of the spine and joints as well as soft tissue massage. I use a variety of techniques to suit each patient’s needs. These include articulation (gentle movement of the joints to improve mobility) and direct soft tissue techniques that often involve the use of electrotherapy, such as G5 massage (a form of vibratory massage) to relax muscles ligaments and other soft tissues. G5 is also very good for the circulation and lymphatic drainage. Additionally, I use various forms of electrical differential therapy, such as ultrasound, interferential or Endosan therapies. This involves applying an electric current to the affected area of the body to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness and promote healing.
If I’m treating someone using acupuncture, I’ll use fine single-use, pre-sterilised needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body that relate to your particular condition. After the needles are inserted, I may leave you alone for a while to allow the needles to do their work. You can use this period for peaceful reflection or listen to music, so remember to bring your phone!
While I am the primary therapist, my highly trained staff may also come in to the session to provide G5 or another form of massage therapy.
Aftercare and advice: After treatment I’ll advise you fully on self-care, including exercise, posture, diet and lifestyle, and discuss with you the need for any follow-up sessions.
My practice offers both osteopathy and acupuncture and if you feel that I can help with any aspect of your health using either or both therapies, please do get in touch.