As an acupuncturist, I try to talk to my new patients on the day after their first treatment.
Generally, they’re new to acupuncture and are unsure as to what effects they should be feeling. I also like to check in because in many cases, new patients assume that they will be symptom-free after that first treatment.
Occasionally that does happen.
However, the reality is that acupuncture is a therapy and it can take a series of treatments to be truly effective.
So, how many acupuncture treatments should it take for you to feel better?
Acupuncture Treatments & Your Health
This is a fair question. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
It’s a little like asking your Western doctor how many pills of your prescription medication will you need, or how many days after a surgery will you be back on your feet.
The reality is that when it comes to recovery, whether it’s Western medicine or acupuncture, there is no correct answer—everyone heals at their own pace.
The issue here is that there are a number of variables in the healing equation.
Sometimes, given the variables, I can predict how long it will take for a patient to feel better. However, there have also been many instances when I’ve been surprised.
Occasionally, I’ll have a patient with what I believe to be a difficult or complicated condition who responds after only a treatment or two. Conversely, once in a while I treat someone who I believe should feel better quickly who doesn’t respond at all.
Some of the variables that may affect how quickly you heal and how many acupuncture treatments you may need including the following:
How long you’ve had the condition.
In general, the longer you have had a condition, the more treatments it will take to treat it.
For example, If your elbow has been bothering you for twenty years, you most likely will take longer than the person who tweaked their elbow last week.
The nature of your complaint or illness.
Many conditions are quickly resolved with Chinese medicine, including stress, anxiety, digestive issues, PMS, and many types of pain.
On the other hand, deep-seated chronic illnesses, such as autoimmune conditions may take much longer.
Your overall general health.
I have seen many young and healthy patients seemingly heal right before my eyes in a single treatment.
However, older patients, those in really poor health, and those on numerous medications heal slowly and tend to need more treatments.
Your commitment to getting better.
What you do at home in between treatments can make a huge difference in how quickly you heal.
If you implement your practitioner’s suggestions regarding dietary therapy, heating/cooling an injury, herbal formulas, and lifestyle changes, you can speed up your recovery dramatically.
So what do I tell prospective patients when they ask how many treatments they will need?
My best answer is that acupuncture is a therapy and while some people may heal very quickly — in a session or two, others will take longer. I advise them to give acupuncture a fair try, say three or four treatments, to see how they’re improving.
At that point, we will both have a better idea of how many treatments will be ultimately needed to heal completely.