What to expect at your first visit

Why the big exam? Why do I have to wait for Acupuncture? Can I get a treatment today?

While many Pensacola residents are interested in Acupuncture and generally favor it, people often confuse “natural” and “healthy” to mean ineffective or slow to produce results. At Gulf Coast Wellness, it is our mission to change the way people use Acupuncture. What is unique about us is that we do a thorough evaluation, formulate an individualized treatment plan and execute that plan using the most advanced treatment techniques available in order to get the results you deserve.

This approach puts a great burden on us to only accept patients we believe we can truly help. In many other Pensacola Acupuncture offices, you will walk in, spend 10 minutes explaining your issue (usually while lying on the treatment table) and immediately receive an Acupuncture treatment. “Great!” you say, “I want to get going right away.”

Admittedly it sounds good at first. Of course, you went to an Acupuncturist to get Acupuncture, so you’d want to get some Acupuncture right away. However, the most important step has been left out of this transaction, and that is proper evaluation and diagnosis. What if you went to the optometrist, and upon hearing that you are having trouble seeing things that are far away he promptly diagnoses you as near-sighted and writes a prescription. In some offices, you’d have your glasses in an hour or less. Hooray! Now you’ve quickly handled the matter of needing glasses. The problem is, no one checked to see if the actual prescription is correct for you. There were no tests run, so only a vague diagnosis was reached and not an actual thorough understanding of your problem.

This kind of problem presents especially often in Holistic Medicne. Holistic Medicine is incredibly individual. Its treatment strategies depend upon determining the underlying cause of an issue. This means that two people with identical complaints, for example migraines, may in fact have exactly opposite underlying causes and therefore opposite treatment approaches. This means that any new patient requires a bit of investigation before getting started.

In our clinic, we first pre-screen every patient. That is, you come in for a consultation with an Acupuncture Physician to first determine if the methods we use at Gulf Coast Wellness are entirely appropriate for you. If they are not, we promptly refer you to another practitioner who can adequately evaluate your condition. For example, I once had a patient come in with the chief complaint of shortness of breath. She felt that it was difficult to breathe. On face value, this is typically a problem that Acupuncture and Chinese herbs treat very well. Based on that, I recommended a full evaluation of her history and physical condition.

When I got to the physical exam, I listened to her lungs. In the vast majority of shortness of breath patients, there will be absolutely nothing physically wrong with the lungs that can be detected by any test, much less listening to lung sounds with a stethoscope. However, with such a complaint it is prudent to investigate every avenue. Upon listening (auscultation as we call it in medicine) I found that she had no breath sounds at all in her lower lobes. This is rather serious and indicates that the lower lobes are not involved in breathing for one reason or another—such as collapse or being filled with fluid. Based on her history I ventured a guess that it was probably fluid and promptly referred her to a pulmonologist to have the appropriate tests run. In fact, it was fluid, and it turned out that this patient had a very serious problem with her lymphatic system (your second circulatory system) that was causing her lungs to fill up. This was a surgical issue and out of my scope of practice. It also could have become life threatening very quickly. Due to the thorough exam, this patient’s life was probably saved.

So back to your first visit, this visit involves only two things: taking the pulse and talking. As an Acupuncture Physician, taking the pulse is my inside view on what is happening in your body. It tells me about the circulation in various areas of your body. Problems like not enough blood flow (blood deficiency), blood stuck in an area and not moving out normally, similar to a bruise or contusion (blood stasis), inflammation (heat) or constriction (cold) can all be detected in the pulse. The pulse taking often reveals issues that the patient has not even thought to mention. Then comes talking. This first visit involves just a simple interview. We will get the most basic facts about the problem that brought you in. The purpose is simply to come to one of two conclusions:
a. we can probably help you, and we are the best choice to treat this problem or
b. you will be better served by another approach.

We take our commitment to proper evaluation very seriously. You can absolutely rely on an honest and thorough opinion on your health issues and a clear directive of how to follow up for treatment.



Acknowledgements: I adapted the optometrist analogy from Brian Tracy’s The Art of Closing the Sale—he was using a medical example of misdiagnosis to explain sales, but I found that it fits medicine even better. http://www.briantracy.com/

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