How Often Should You Get Acupuncture?

If you are considering acupuncture, you may wonder how long it will take to get you feeling better. It’s a fair question. My goal as an acupuncturist is to get you quickly on your way to health and back to living your life. There are many factors that go into the appropriate course of treatment just as there is with dosing any medication. And it’s all dependent on what you come in with, how long you’ve had it and other health related issues that might hinder your recovery.

As a general rule, we say that for every year you’ve experienced an issue, it will take a month of treatment to address it. So let’s say you’ve had back pain for three years. It will take about 3 months of consistent treatment to get your pain under control IF that’s all that is going on with you. If you also have diabetes, a horrible diet, and an autoimmune condition, you may see pain some pain relief, but you won’t heal as fast. And the number of visits in that 3 months will make a difference too.

The recommendation for acupuncture treatment frequency is 2-3 times a week for the first month and then reassess. How did we get to 2-3 times a week? Science (see the chart to the right). Essentially, your endorphin level (aka natural pain killer hormones) goes up with your first acupuncture treatment. Then if you have another treatment soon after (2-3 days), it goes up higher than the previous treatment, and another treatment will cause them to go up again. They aren’t going back down to the beginning level, and they tend to continue going up (offering more pain relief), and will stay higher longer. But if we only treat you 1 time per week in the beginning, they go up on visit 1, but then are back down to the starting point on visit 2, and they don’t go higher each time. So in essence, we are starting over with each weekly visit.

So to really give acupuncture a try, it’s best to commit to a consistent course of treatment (2-3 times weekly) for a specific length of time (typically 1 month), and then we’ll re-evaluate along the way. I’ll give you my best estimate of how long you’ll need treatment after we meet the first time and I have an opportunity to get a clear picture of your health and wellness goals. It’s important to remember we are trying to get at the root cause of your symptoms to provide lasting relief. Your health issues most likely didn’t come on overnight and getting you back to health won’t happen overnight either. It takes a committed effort from both of us. In addition to acupuncture treatments, I typically give some lifestyle or movement recommendations, and, when appropriate, a custom herbal prescription.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us or give us a call at the clinic.