Inside Acupuncture, Part II

4. Expectations:  Treatment is generally very relaxing, and it is not uncommon for patients to fall asleep.  At the end of your treatment, your practitioner will return to painlessly remove the needles.  At your first treatment, which is typically 1.5 hours (subsequent treatments about one hour), expect a lengthy exam (DOMs are known for their detailed diagnostics) in a private room, between yourself and your practitioner, including a series of questions about your specific issues as well as all your other bodily processes.

Tip:  Be sure to mention every symptom that you have, even if it seems unrelated.  Knowing all your symptoms is crucial in making a correct diagnosis.

5. Diagnosis/Prescription:  Your practitioner will take your pulses (yes, we take 9, not 1) to assess the state of all your organ systems, and look at your tongue (the most exterior representation of your internal self).  He/she may palpate certain points/areas on your body (especially if you have pain) and will be observing other aspects of your body/demeanor.  All these things lead the practitioner to a working diagnosis upon which they will base your treatment plan.  After the initial lengthy diagnosis procedure, following treatments are fairly simple - you give updates on your symptoms and any changes since your last treatment, talk about any new info that might be important, and do a quick tongue and pulse check....then needles.

Tip:   Be aware that you are entitled to at least a basic explanation of your diagnosis and treatment plan and ask what lifestyle changes would be helpful.   Also, don’t be afraid to ask your practitioner anything that might help you better understand either your specific diagnosis or the medicine in general.   Most are happy to empower patients with information that will give them a deeper understanding and ability to help themselves.

6. What is the cost?  Most insurance plans reimburse for acupuncture these days, and many practitioners will either bill for you (in which case, you will only pay a co-pay if your deductible is met) or provide you with paperwork that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.  If you pay cash, a typical acupuncture treatment will cost anywhere from $55-75 (with the first consultation costing a bit more).  There is frequently a cash discount and or discount for paying ahead for multiple treatments; some offices even offer payment plans and sliding scale fees.

Tip:  Tipping is optional.  If you enjoy your experience and find benefit from it, please spread the word.  DOMs work on referrals and are thrilled when their patients are happy with their treatment and tell their friends!

Have more questions or need more information?
Dr. Jaymie Hettler can be reached at  Thanks, Jaymie!