When Will I See Results?

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | August 16th, 2016

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThis is one of the first questions I get from new clients, right after “Do the needles hurt?”
As a consumer and patient myself, I get it.  You want results, you want them now, or at least have a ballpark answer as to when you might see improvements with your issue.
The answer is usually not so simple. Here is what I take into consideration when responding:
Is your issue chronic or acute?  How long have you been having hot flashes/not sleeping/an aching back/panic attacks? The sooner you seek treatment, the better.  Acute pain is easy to self-diagnose.  Don’t wait for your pain and inflammation to settle in before seeking help of some sort.  Chronic pain or a chronic issue is one that has been around for 3 to 6 months or longer.  Acute pain or conditions can turn chronic if not dealt with soon enough.
Once you tune in to what is going on with your health, you can better gauge when to seek treatment.  I have some patients who come see me before they get a migraine or herpes outbreak because they have learned the signals from their bodies and how to read them.
So, when will you see improvements?  Acute problems will see improvement more quickly, while chronic issues take longer, of course.
This is not the only consideration of course.


Other variables to consider:
Your overall health.  Athletes in prime physical condition will respond faster than those who are generally unhealthy, with a sliding scale in-between.  Children respond the fastest with non-chronic conditions.  If you have an autoimmune issue, it may take months to see long-term results, but you should see overall improvement in your symptoms within 6-12 weekly (or bi-weekly) treatments.
Your age.  Generally, people who are on the younger side see results more quickly. However, a very fit 62 year old will generally see results more quickly than an unhealthy 25 year old.
Number of conditions. People who have a laundry list of conditions across several systems (musculoskeletal, digestive, reproductive, immune) will not respond as quickly as a person that only has one issue, usually.
Frequency of Treatment.  Here’s where I come up against the American mentality—we want results, we want them now…but can we just do the minimal amount to see improvement?  It’s simple: frequency of treatment will have a definitive effect on your outcome.  In China, it is not uncommon to see a patient 5-10 days in a row for short treatments, then take a break for a few days, then resume acupuncture for 5-10 days again until the issue has been resolved.  In America, we have grown accustomed to the once-a-week treatment plans, even though they may be less effective.  I usually prescribe acupuncture and herbs twice a week for 6-12 weeks.  We can usually tell before 6 weeks whether or not there will be improvement, and whether or not it is enough improvement is up to the individual.  Most of the time, unfortunately, people do not have the funds or time to see me twice weekly. Does this mean they won’t see improvement?  They will, it will just typically take longer.  We can see results about 2/3 faster—that is, someone getting treatments twice weekly will see the same results typically within twelve weeks that a once-a-week person does in nine months or longer. And, of course, there will be improvement along the way during the course of treatment.
Of course, every case is different.
With fertility clients, I have seen treatments work at their peak if administered twice weekly during the time leading up to trying to conceive or the start of an IVF or IUI cycle.
With some plantar fasciitis cases, frequency of treatment may be closer to the Chinese standard—every other day for a week (but results will begin to be seen after the first few treatments). Pain patients will normally see greater improvement if seen more often (twice a week).
Stress and insomnia take a shorter time typically to see results –six weekly treatments are usually a great place to start. Once results are achieved, we switch to every other week for treatment, then once a month, and then once per season (or more if the problem returns years down the line).
Some people like to use acupuncture as a weekly (or bi-weekly) stress release, like getting a massage.  It can be part of your overall wellness plan.  True, keeping stress levels low will allow all of your systems to run more effectively and therefore more able to handle oncoming stressors or pathogens.
I always tell my clients that they need to determine what their own end result is.  Is it to fully get rid of the issue, or to be able to perform daily activities better?  As an acupuncturist it is my goal to help you get those results as efficiently as possible. I want to make you an advertisement for acupuncture, not an addict!
If your normal methods for treating your issue have not worked as quickly as they have in the past, it’s time to seek new methods.  If acupuncture has worked in the past, then make an appointment!

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