What you need know
after an acupuncture session

People having an acupuncture treatment probably understood what the treatment look is like. It is rather relaxing than hurtful as they thought! Here is some important information of what to expect after the acupuncture session and what to do next.

Immediate Reactions

Many patients expressed that they felt a very strong relaxation during and after the initial treatment. This relaxation is not only about a relaxed body while lying on the treatment table, but about feeling mentally peaceful and emotionally happy. Some people have told me they never felt this deeply relaxed in their entire life. This relaxation effect usually is the first reaction of acupuncture treatment. It means the patient has responded with the treatment very well. In Chinese medicine, this relaxation is a sign that balance and free energy flow has been restored.

Some may notice their body was floating, as if they were weightless, or on the contrary, they felt heavy, as if their body was sinking into the bed. According to my experience, the sign of floating means a patient's energy calms down from uptight or over functional; and the sign of heaviness meaning a patient's energy has been uplifted from tiredness and under function. The beauty of acupuncture is its ability of the restoring of equilibrium, no matter what the patient's condition is.

However, for some patients, the relaxation effect only comes after several sessions, because they were either less sensitive with the energy flow naturally, or mentally too nerves to let the energy flow start. Usually with a few sessions will get them tune with the free energy flow.

Meanwhile, some patients could feel the remaining sensation of acupuncture, like soreness or numbness at/around the site of acupuncture points after treatment. This sensation usually last for a few hours, rarely a day. Self massage at the point may subside this feeling or discomfort.

Occasionally there is a small bruise appears on the treatment site (acupuncture points, pain spot). It usually disappears in a 3 - 5 days for a person with good circulation, can be up to two weeks for poorer circulation. Apply heat pad locally helps speed up recovery. Excessive massage should be avoided.

After Session Reactions
(the first 24-48 hours)

The relaxation can last for hours or days depending upon who you are. While in the state of relaxation, your concentration and focus is down graded: you can't follow a conversation, can't focus in the meetings, or simply can't keep awake. Meanwhile, many also felt increasingly aware of their inner feelings. This is a typical reaction if the body shuts down from the external stimulations and starts to repair (recharge) itself. The best thing you can do in this situation is rest, take naps or go to bed early. Our body only can repair itself while we are sleeping at night.

Some patients would become more emotionally sensitive for a short period of time. One could cry for no reason; grief for something that happened long ago; can't tolerate other people. In Chinese medicine, it is a good sign that the person releases his/her emotions naturally. We all have an emotion container to hold our emotions of everyday stress and life experience. When the container is full, even a smallest issue can make it overflow; a disproportionate emotional reaction to slight stress is the result. For many, they put a heavy cover on the top of this emotion container, to hide their emotions from everyone. During the acupuncture session, this cover is melting away and emotions are streaming out. It is healthy to let the emotions set free from time to time. You might use this opportunity to start in-depth emotional conversation with family or friends, or find a quiet corner to absorb your emotions. After this period of emotional liberation, usually last only two or three days, patients feel more peaceful and contented.

For patients with acute pain or injury, acupuncture offers an impressive pain relief which lasts. For patients with chronic pain, the drastic reduction of pain during the session may not last permanently. Usually the pain comes back after a few hours or even a day. In Chinese medicine, we look at energy flow within the body as the water flow in the pipes of a building (when we know it is there, but we can't see it). When there is flood in the bathroom, we know there is blockage of in the drainage system. Similarly, when there is a pain, the Chinese doctor sees a blockage of energy flow. A chronic pain, to Chinese medicine, is a blocked drainage system, and pipes are rusted in the body. Acupuncture works like a plumper, apply pressure at certain point to flush out the blockage, so the flow is restored and the pain has gone. However, because the pain (blockage) has been there for a long time, the inner layer of the pipe is rusted and attached much rubbish on in. When the flow restores, the rubbish loosen and start to move and block the flow again in sometime later. By then, the pain reoccurs as a worse pain or even moves to a "new" location. So as the acupuncture sessions are persistent the flushing work will continue until all the rubbish and rust are cleaned in the meridians. When the pain reappears, do not panic or worry, but take some sensible steps to help calm the pain, like resting, apply red flower oil locally, or at its worst, take some pain killers. It is important for the patient to give the doctor the feedback of how long the pain relief was last and any changes in the pattern or site of the pain.

Some patients experience more urination after the acupuncture session. Some have told me that they can't stop going for pee, ten times in one afternoon, without drinking more water. As you would expect, their bloating and water retention would be relieved significantly. Meanwhile some may spot changes on their bowel movement: more frequent, increased volume, or stronger odour. Both signs of good eliminations indicate body elevates the level of metabolism, or in the Chinese term, a better energy flow in kidney and spleen meridians.

Long-term Reaction
(2 - 4 weeks)

Running nose, sore throat and some cold symptoms may appear during the second or third week of an acupuncture treatment. In Chinese medicine, an unresolved cold or flu was the underlying cause of many health problems, like poor circulation, stiff neck and back and migraine. Running nose, fever and body ache are the natural response of body fighting with a cold or flu attack, like casualties and bombarded border during the war that defense force fight the enemy from invasion. When the drug is used improperly, symptoms do suppressed but one's health goes down, like a cease fire at war by confiscation of weapons from the soldiers, and let the enemy loots the country. Once acupuncture treatment enhanced the immunity, as if the army is armed ready to fight the invader again, cold and flu symptoms reappear. These symptoms usually last for a week; some Chinese herbs might be used for a faster healing.

Meanwhile, some patients may notice reappearing of many other symptoms, which bothered them previously but have forgotten for sometimes. It means the increased body energy expelling many underlying ailment. For example, reoccur of appendicitis or hemorrhoids that happened years ago. While body is in a reversing process of healing, it often notices that the recurred symptoms are not causing as strong discomfort as a normal attack. Reassessment of patients condition and modify treatment plan would be required. It is important to let the practitioner to know the previous history of illness may just happen to be remembered again.


Exercise and lifestyle modification

While body is in healing and recharge phase, The Yin type of exercise are recommended. For the details, refer my article: "The Balance of Summer and Winter".