Acupuncture treatment frequency

Acupuncture treatment frequency

One of the more important question people often ask is, “When should I come back?”  Since everybody is different and your treatment plan is specific to your needs, it’s best to talk to your acupuncturist about this, but here is a bit of info on the subject of treatment frequency. Even though we spout out the answer in a matter of seconds, understanding how often one should get acupuncture is more of a concept.  It is more of a way of living, whether it’s natural medicine you use to prevent illness, or natural foods and practices.  It’s like drinking water.  We all know drinking water is good for us, and if we need to increase our intake it might take a few days before we begin to notice any benefits from drinking more water.  At first we just notice things like the habit of drinking often, and an increase in trips to the Jon.  Same goes for many supplements, herbs, and therapies.  You might notice drinking more water feels good initially, just like you might notice some instant benefits from acupuncture.  But the real magic happens after a few weeks of consistent treatments.  Acupuncture works by triggering the bodies own ability to heal itself.

Every bodies rate of healing is different, and is affected by their environment, habits, and lifestyle. In Chinese medicine we see the body as a whole, and believe the best way to heal the body is to treat the root of the problem.  Well if the root of the problem is your job, or school, or partner, or the hardware implanted in your ankle, then that slows your progress down; it’s not like acupuncture can get rid of your crappy boss (unless you can get your boss to come get acupuncture, then they won’t be so crappy….).  The number of treatments also depends on the intensity of the issue, and the nature of the issue, some problems are more complicated than others.  Things you can do to help your body heal such as, eating a clean diet, drinking plenty of water, keeping moving, getting plenty of down time, and other alternative therapies (PT, Chiro, NP, massage) will all help your acupuncture work better. And acupuncture will help those things work better for you too.

A couple general rules of thumb to consider when deciding a treatment plan, and these are in the ideal situations;  the longer the problem has been around, the longer it will take to get rid of it.  Imagine your healing path as an old dirt road that you’ve driven on for years.  The same tracks divited into the dry hard ground, over and over again (like health issues that just keep popping up).  Then one day you decide to turn off of that road, but find it’s too difficult to pull out of those tracks.  Acupuncture is there to help level out the road, and bring you out of those divits so you can drive freely.

Next put your problem on an intensity scale of 1-10, 10 being debilitating.  If it’s 1-4 on the scale you’ll get results from 1 treatment weekly. Then the mid range of 4-7 on the scale being 2 times per week, and the higher end of the scale 7-10 being 3 or more times per week. Initially, or if its been a while since you last got acupuncture, you might start out with more the first week, drop it down the second or third week, and then play it by ear.  Healing, regardless of the modality, happens in 3 basic stages.  Stage 1, the acute stage, we focus on reducing symptoms, this tends to be the around 3 treatments weekly until we see some changes (usually the shortest stage). Stage 2, healing the root stage, now we are focusing on the cause of the imbalance, and you receive acupuncture about 2 times per week (this stage can be a bit longer).  Stage 3, maintenance stage, around 1 treatment a week to keep up with all that hard work you just did.  If all is going well some people use acupuncture 1 time per week to 1 time a month (this is where you put acupuncture in your toolbox for life, and use it as you need it anytime, forever).  These aren’t hard rules, if you feel like your body could use a little more support, or if something happens you can always increase your treatment frequency, that will only help more.  Cutting back too soon on the other hand can cause some set backs, or slow your progress momentum down.  Some issues don’t follow this treatment plan, such as fertility where those details need to be discussed with the acupuncturist.

Rarely, after a patient has had 10-12 acupuncture treatments, following the treatment plan, been compliant, and is not seeing any changes in their issue we will add in another modality such as herbs, and work with those for a while in addition to the acupuncture treatments. At that point the acupuncturist and patient can discuss whether this issue is something they will be able to heal from naturally. If not, they’re are many referral options, and acupuncture can still be used in conjunction with other treatments if necessary.


~Your BAC team