A common question I hear from patients at their first appointment is: How often do I need to come in for treatments?
Well, of course there's no one-size-fits all answer to anything when it comes to health - and each patient gets a treatment plant for their exact needs - but I can give you a general overview of what I've seen work best for my patients.
There are three common levels of care in acupuncture - each with their own treatment frequency. Your acupuncturist will first figure out where you are on this spectrum, and then come up with a treatment plan customized specifically for you.
Wondering how often you need acupuncture? First, find out what stage of care you're in.
Acute care focuses on the here and now - mainly dealing with more recent conditions or shorter term care. Here's a few examples where you would need acute care treatment:
- You've suffered a recent injury or are dealing with a short term ailment. Maybe you sprained your ankle in the last few days, came down with travelers diarrhea, or recently got pregnant and are dealing with morning sickness.
- You're having an acute flare-up of a chronic condition or a condition that was previously in remission.
- You've been dealing with your symptoms for a long time, but you're new to acupuncture.
In the acute care phase your treatment plan will be a little more aggressive. You can expect to come in for acupuncture at least once or twice weekly for the first two weeks. (This is exactly why we offer acute care packages in our clinic.)
Your course of treatment will depend on how your symptoms react to the acupuncture. Someone with an acute injury will need more frequent treatments for a shorter period of time. Whereas someone working on a chronic condition might have their treatments spaced further apart, but can expect to commit to a longer process.
Don't forget, it's usually taken years for our symptoms to manifest in the way they do now. We can't expect them to disappear in one or two treatments.
Something people don't know about acupuncture, is that the effects are cumulative. It's better to build the positive effects of each treatment on top of each other instead of playing a constant game of catch-up between further and further spaced out appointments.
The acute care phase lasts until your symptoms are relieved or your health goals are met. Then we move on to the transitional care phase.
So at this point your symptoms have improved to the point that you've met your health goals.
Now what? You can't just quit cold turkey, right? Right.
In the transitional care phase, we start to spread the appointments further out - but not so far that the symptoms start to come back! If that happens, it means that your body can't go that long between treatments right now.
We'll keep pushing your appointments out further and further until we find your sweet spot. Then you've move on to the third level - maintenance care.
Maintenance care is continued care within your specific sweet spot. What's your sweet spot? It's the time that you can go between appointments before your body gets out of balance and trouble arises.
Everyone's sweet spot is going to be different. A lot of my patients' do best when they come in for monthly treatments, others can go 6-8 weeks between treatments, and for a few folks only need to come in once every 3 months in order to feel great!
I use this analogy a lot in clinic: Most of us take better care of our cars and bikes than we do ourselves. We're conditioned to remember to get oil changes every 3,000 miles on our cars and tune-ups on our bikes at the change of every season.
But when do we get our own tune-ups?
Acupuncture is a great tool to treat so many various conditions. But where it really excels is in keeping you healthy! Using acupuncture as preventative medicine and self care can save you lots of time, money, energy, and pain in the long run.
Using acupuncture as preventative medicine can save you lots of time, money, energy, and pain in the long run.
More of a visual learner? Here's a video where I explain the cumulative effects of acupuncture:
Ready to try acupuncture for yourself?
Book an appointment today and see how acupuncture can benefit your health!
*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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