About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Names and identifying details have been changed on any person described in these posts to protect their identity.

How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will I Need?

You’re ready to give acupuncture a try and want to find out a little more about what’s involved.  One of the most frequent questions first-timers ask is how many treatments it will  take to get better.

This is a good question.  It’s a fair question, and you deserve an answer.  Unfortunately any practitioner who gives you a definitive answer in terms of an actual number of treatments is not being entirely truthful; they’re guessing.  For the truth is that there is no correct answer—everyone heals at their own pace.

In addition, a good practitioner should never tell you on the phone how many treatments they even think it will take for you to feel better.  I don’t have a problem with an acupuncturist estimating, or even recommending a number of sessions as a course of treatment, but they have no business doing so until they’ve at least seen you in their office.

The issue here is that there are a number of variables in the healing equation, including the following:

-How long you’ve had the condition.  If your elbow has been bothering you for twenty years, you most likely will take longer than the person who tweaked their elbow last week.

-The nature of your complaint or illness.   Many conditions are quickly resolved with Chinese medicine, including stress, anxiety, digestive issues, PMS, and many types of pain.  On the other hand, deep-seated chronic illnesses, such as autoimmune conditions may take much longer.

-Your general health.  I have seen many young and healthy patients seemingly heal right before my eyes in a single treatment.  However, older patients, those in really poor health, and those on numerous medications tend to need more treatments.

-Your commitment to getting better.  What you do at home in between treatments can make a huge difference in how quickly you heal.  If you implement your practitioner’s suggestions regarding dietary therapy, heating/cooling an injury, herbal formulas, and lifestyle changes, you can speed up your recovery dramatically.

So what do I tell prospective patients when they ask how many treatments they will need?  My best answer is that acupuncture is a therapy and while some people may heal very quickly—in a session or two, others will take longer.  I advise them to give acupuncture a fair try, say three or four treatments, to see how they’re improving.  At that point, I will have a better idea of how many treatments they will ultimately need to heal completely.

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