How to Effectively Use Acupuncture

When new patients come into my office the common question is: “How many treatments will it take?”
The answer depends on a few factors some of which we will tackle in this article.

Acupuncture in China is often daily treatment for a course of 10 treatments with about a 2 week break. After this break another course will usually begin if needed. Most of the Chinese research showing the efficacy of acupuncture is based on this daily treatment model. On the other extreme, in this country,  treatments tend to be weekly or bi-weekly and in many cases this is not enough to quickly reduce symptoms.

We have limitations of time, energy, and money so there has to be another way, right?

There is and the word is MOMENTUM.

Riding the Wave
I often give the analogy of pushing a car. In the beginning when it is at rest it is hard to move, but as you build momentum it becomes easier to keep in motion. The big takeaway is acupuncture is a process in which there is a beginning, middle, and end to treatment.

In the beginning by using an optimal frequency of 2-3 treatments a week, the goal is to reduce the intensity of symptoms as well as make sure this improvement holds until the next treatment. The middle is when we build on that progress to the point that the treatment frequency can be reduced to 1-2 treatments per week. The end of treatment is when there is little or no symptoms and we are reducing the frequency of treatment to a maintenance level once every 2-4 weeks. At this stage we are making sure the progress that has been made is stable.

Rough guide for treatment frequency:

  • For pain and discomfort that is greater than 5 out 10* = multiple treatments per week
  • For pain and discomfort that is less than 5 out 10* = one treatment per week

* 0 = No pain, 10 = Worst possible pain

Example: This may consist of 3 treatments the first week, 2 treatments the second week, then 1 treatment a week for two weeks, and finally 1 treatment every two to three weeks.

Regular Ongoing Acupuncture
Today’s stressful lifestyle and environment can bog us down and make us tired and sick. It has been estimated that 75-90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. Regular ongoing acupuncture can be beneficial for relieving these consequences of stress such as headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders, menstrual problems, depressed immune function, weight gain, as well as emotional disorders.

The aim of acupuncture treatment is to tap into the body’s innate ability to heal on its own. Some people respond quicker than others and may require fewer treatments, while some people with conditions of a chronic nature may not respond as quickly and may require more treatments.