A major question that every patient tends to ask is ‘how many treatments do I need?’. It is a good question and one that needs some explanation which will be the central focus of this article.
First and foremost, everyone is different. As such, how long it takes one patient to heal, recover or balance is based on several factors including life style, current state of health and even genetics.
The classic rule of thumb has always been “one month of treatment for every year of illness” but this does not actually cover the frequency of visits. The medical system in China sees an integrated approach with Chinese Medicine working side by side with biomedicine. The cost of an acupuncture session is subsidised (in China) and as such patients are recommended to receive treatment almost daily (depending on disorder).
This recommendation is highly effective in terms of therapeutic outcome however it is not financially viable for most people in the western world. So how often should you get treatment?
Generally speaking, when you first come to receive acupuncture – it is advisable to get it done twice a week until your disorder has settled. This is because much like a course of medication from a general practitioner, the body requires several doses (or treatments) to build up a therapeutic effect. Once you achieve this healing state then it is fine to drop down to once a week until the issue is resolved.
Getting acupuncture done once a week initially is not enough to bring you to a healing base line. As you can see in the diagram below, acupuncture once a week will make you feel better for a short time however you will drop back to where you started without a follow-up within the week (the numbers indicate treatments).
The diagram below shows how subsequent treatments, at two a week, allow you to build upon each session to get you to the balance or healing line.
If you are unable to attend a second session within the week then ask your practitioner about trying herbal medicine. It is suitable for most patients and can assist in maintaining the healing between weekly sessions.
You generally notice some improvement after the first session of treatment however it can take up to five sessions to consolidate the desired outcome; some practitioners will recommend a course of treatment which is ten sessions to fully monitor, assist and maintain the situation. Once you have reached your healing goals, it is best to get maintenance once a month or every six weeks as prevention is better than cure.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your adherence to health recommendations plays a large role in recovery as well. If you are receiving conflicting medical advice than always seek to clarify with the correct professional. When speaking of health recommendations, if for example, your practitioner has suggested a stricter weight management routine to take the stress off your joints and you choose to ignore them – it can lead to more required treatment sessions to reach the balance line or only a short-term relief.
A final note – remember good health and recovery is about team work. You must know your goals and share them with the practitioner in order for a proper treatment plan to be created for you. It should be more than ‘I want to be free from pain’ as this is too generic. Consider what pain is stopping you from doing such as going on outings with your loved ones and use that as a visual goal to move towards.