One of the more important question patients ask is, “When should I come back?” Since everybody is different and your treatment plan is specific to your needs, it’s best to talk to your acu-punk about this, but here are some general guidelines on treatment frequency.
Every body's rate of healing is effected by their environment, habits, and lifestyle. In Chinese medicine we see the body as whole, and believe the best way to heal is to treat the root of the problem. Well if the root of the problem is your job, or school, or partner, or the hardware implanted in your ankle, then that slows your progress down. Unfortunately, acupuncture can't get rid of your crappy boss (unless you can get your boss to come get acupuncture, then just maybe, they won’t be so crappy). What acupuncture can do is regulate your stress response. Our patients find that the things that used to cause them to tighten up and get irritated don't cause such an extreme response. They are calmer, more adaptable and at ease with the ebbs and flow of life.
Here are a few general rules of thumb to consider when deciding a treatment plan:
1) The longer the problem has been around, the longer it will take to get rid of it. Imagine your healing path as an old dirt road that you’ve driven on for years. Over and over again you drive on that road until your tire tracks become deeply ingrained into the dry hard ground. Then one day you decide to turn off of that road, but find it’s too difficult to pull out of those tracks. Acupuncture is there to help level out the road, and bring you out of your old tracks so you can drive freely again.
2) How much are your symptoms affecting your day to day life?
The more intense your condition is, the more treatments you will need in a shorter amount of time. As you see the benefits of acupuncture become stronger and last longer (usually after 8-10 treatments), your treatment plan adjusts accordingly.
3) Healing, regardless of the modality, happens in 3 basic stages.
Of course, these aren’t hard rules, if you feel like your body could use a little more support, or if something happens you can always increase your treatment frequency, that will only help more. Cutting back too soon on the other hand can cause some set backs, or slow your progress momentum down. Some issues don’t follow these guidelines, such as fertility treatments - remember it's always best to talk to your acupuncturist to come up with a treatment plan that works for you.
Take this survey for a general guideline on how many treatments you may need. Big thanks to our friends at Berkeley Acupuncture Project for sharing this resource! For an individualized treatment plan please consult one of our awesome acu-punks at your next appointment.