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How Does My Acupuncturist Make a Diagnosis?

Posted on April 10, 2016 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (823)

When I first began working with my acupuncturist I assumed that she would just start sticking needles in and that would be that. I was pretty surprised that I had to go through a diagnosis process during the first visit. It was similar to any visit to a doctor, and at the same time very different. I know that I mentioned this earlier, but now I would like to explore a bit of the “why” involved in the process.


Ancient Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, is meant to work with the body’s own natural healing abilities to bring both the body and the spirit back in balance. Ancient Chinese Medicine believed and believes that both are necessary to achieve wellness (Wilkowski). This means that all of the diagnostic tools look at the body as a whole.


The initial visit usually includes some type of health questionnaire. A health questionnaire just makes sense for any health practitioner. After all, it’s important to know about pre-existing conditions, medications, and general health. I didn’t even question that one.


Then came the tongue examination. Why is it important and included in every visit? The tongue is one of the maps of your body’s Qi (often pronounced chee or kee). Qi is the vital life energy circulating through your body, and is a balance of both positive and negative.


By looking at the color, coating, and shape of your tongue, your acupuncturist can tell a lot about your Qi. The color of the tongue indicates heat. Your tongue has a coating (even if you brush or scrape your tongue). The thickness of the coating, as well as the color of the coating, can indicate imbalances in certain organs. The tongue tends to change shape and size according to the amount of fluid the body retains or loses. Other deficiencies can also change the shape and size of the tongue (Try Acupuncture).


After checking my tongue, my pulse was checked. My acupuncturist checks my pulse in both wrists. Sometimes she will check in my ankles, as I have bad arthritis in both feet and fibromyalgia that affects my ability to walk without a lot of pain. Your practitioner will check pulses according to your needs. It’s all part of the life flow and energy circulating throughout your body.


Next time, we’ll look at how the information from these tools are used to help your acupuncturist determine how to treat you.


Remember, if you have questions about your treatment plan – Ask! And if you have questions about what is included in my blog posts, please post a comment.



Try Acupuncture.org. The Importance of the Tongue in Traditional Chinese Medicine. http://tryacupuncture.org/the-importance-of-the-tongue-in-traditional-chinese-medicine/


Wilkowski, Rebecca A. Acupuncture: Ancient Medicine for a New Millennium. Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness, http://www.qi-journal.com/acupuncture.asp?Name=Ancient%20Medicine%20for%20a%20New%20Millennium&-token.D=Article



Posted on October 24, 2015 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (50)

Hi, I’m Laurie. Like many of us, I turned to acupuncture because I hadn’t found sufficient pain relief from traditional medicine without massive doses of narcotics. I was lucky, I had a friend who suggested acupuncture and referred me to a wonderful acupuncturist - Mandi. My friend was able to tell me what to expect, who would be good, and why it would help. For many, there isn’t anyone to do the referring.

Being a naturally curious sort, I’ve asked a lot of questions during my time here. I’ve also begun to do a lot of research. I hope that what I share will be of help to you, as it has been of help to me.

Today is Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing what I experienced on my first visit for acupuncture. Maybe this will answer some of the questions and concerns that are keeping you from booking your first appointment!

I was a little surprised that I had to fill out a health questionnaire before I even arrived for my first appointment. It was a lot like those I had filled out for every medical office I had ever been to. When I arrived, Mandi spent time reviewing the paperwork with me (observing me the whole time). She then asked me to stick out my tongue. After looking at it closely, she made some notes. Further conversation followed, and another look at my tongue. Then we moved to the treatment room, which was dimly lit and had low soothing music playing. I removed my shoes and socks and lay down on the table. Mandi checked my pulse, using 3 fingers on each wrist. She then moved to my feet and began inserting needles. I did feel a little tiny poke with the first needle because I was tensed up and expecting it, but it was so minute that I laughed. I really didn’t feel anything after that. I just relaxed for about 20 minutes and enjoyed a quiet time listening to the music.

Everyone has a different experience before, during and after their treatments, but acupuncturists like Mandi complete thousands of hours of training and their goal is to make you feel better – not to hurt you. Like any good health practitioner, they work with you to come up with a plan that works for you, and with all of the other pieces of your health care regime. This has certainly been my experience.

Stay tuned for more information on acupuncture and oriental medicine. Why does Mandi look at your tongue? What do the needles do? Where do the practices come from? Have a question? Let me know and I’ll try to find out. Like I said – I’m a naturally curious sort, and I like to research!

Happy Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day!



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