"How many sessions will I need?"
This is one of the most common questions when patients come in for a first appointment. The short (and sometimes frustrating!) answer is – it varies greatly, depending on the individual, the symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing your symptoms. If it’s something you’ve been experiencing for months or years, two or three sessions isn’t likely to resolve your symptoms. I thought it would be useful to explain this more….
As with other forms of medicine, Acupuncture is not a one-shot deal. It works cumulatively, meaning one treatment builds on the next. There are instances of acupuncture producing immediate results, however this is the exception to the rule. If you want lasting results from acupuncture, especially for a chronic condition, you need to commit to the process. This approach to healing can be unfamiliar to the western culture of instant gratification.
How long you’ve had your symptoms matters greatly, because we are creatures of habit – and so are our neural pathways. When you experience pain or trauma, your nerves create a specific pathway and connect to your brain. When you experience pain or trauma over and over, the same pathway becomes more deeply ingrained and your brain establishes a strong memory of that experience so that each time it happens that ‘pain file’ becomes quickly accessible.
By activating specific points with acupuncture, we’re helping your nervous system use new ways of problem-solving, stimulating different nerve pathways to approach a set of symptoms. We’re helping your body establish new habits of healing. This is a process, which (usually) takes time to have lasting impact.
Ultimately, the number and frequency of acupuncture sessions varies based on the individual, the symptoms and how long you have had the symptoms. A typical series of sessions consists of 6 to 12 visits, once or twice a week, becoming more spaced out as treatment progresses. Acute conditions, such as sprains, generally require less time and frequency, whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require several sessions. Sometimes the effects of acupuncture treatment can be quick and intense, sometimes initial effects can be subtle. In our busy lives, it can be hard to tune into the subtle shifts, as your body adapts and responds. Pain can be less intense or less frequent, sleep can improve, digestion more settled – all these subtle shifts are early signs that the body is responding and treatment is starting to take effect.
My aim is always to resolve your symptoms as quickly as possible and get you back to feeling ‘you’ again – I will never recommend more treatment than you need.