How many acupuncture treatments do you need?

Acupuncturist placing an acupuncture needle in a patient's foot

A common question I get asked at the first treatment is how many acupuncture treatments do you need?

The vague, but very real answer, is I don’t know.

But once I hear details about your situation, I can make a very educated guess based on these criteria…

Not a “One and Done”

Acupuncture is a therapy method.

Many people unfamiliar with acupuncture think of it as a one-time procedure.

In the case of pain, they are often deciding between cortisone injections or surgery which are one-time procedures. So it’s not surprising they might think of acupuncture as a one-time session.

It’s really more like how physical therapy, chiropractic, and massage are done. All of these are modalities that work to restore balance and function in the body which takes time.

Just like you are provided dosages for your prescription medications, the “dosing” of acupuncture is important.

Acute vs. Chronic

Acute conditions typically can have a shorter treatment plan.

For example, I had a patient recently wanting help for shin splints that happened as she was training for a race. She had no underlying concerns and it was an acute symptom.  She followed my suggestions and was back to training after 2 treatments.

Chronic conditions take longer.

I have been working with a patient in her early 50s going through severe hot flashes and night sweats. She has had them pretty intensely for 3 years now and they were getting worse. We have now been working together for 3 months and they are down by over 50% and rarely happening during the day at work.

Spacing Matters

Typically the closer the appointments, the faster it goes.

The farther apart the appointments, the slower it goes.

Acupuncture coaxes the body into healing itself, and if you let too much time go in between, it is common for old habits to slip back in before the new good changes had time to get established.

For example, I saw a patient with neuropathy in his toes for over 10 years who came in for only two sessions that were a month apart and it was not surprising that little to no progress was made.

Are You Doing Your Homework?

I almost always give some sort of homework assignment. So many of our chronic conditions are affected by all the little things we do day in and day out.

It matters.

Are you doing your stretches?
Are you drinking your water?
Are you looking into ways to de-stress?
Are you following up on additional care you might need?

I don’t force anyone into anything. It doesn’t feel very fun for you or for me.

But if you want your improvements to go faster, making little supportive changes in your day to day will matter very much.

So what’s the short answer?

When you are first starting acupuncture, plan on 4 to 6 visits.

If you are in severe pain, have urgent symptoms, or want to move things along more quickly, plan on 2 visits a week.

For moderate situations, plan on once a week.

These initial visits give acupuncture time to start working. It gives me the ability to tailor your protocol based on how you’re doing. And it gives you time to see progress.

At my clinic, I never require any long-term commitments.

You ALWAYS get to choose what is right for you.

In another post, I will share how we check in after the fourth visit and what to expect after that.

To schedule an appointment, click here to book online, or call us at 815-942-2580.

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