Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Will I have to get acupuncture throughout my life?

I'm interested in starting acupuncture for back pain. Is there generally a length of treatment suggested or should I make it a lifelong commitment?

36 Answers

It depends. Most of the time after you feel better, you don't have to keep doing acupuncture for the same complaint, but if you have a physical work or practice some sport, maybe you will come back for a treatment occasionally.
No. Acupuncture treatment has never led to a situation we know as addiction.
Most truthful answer to that is many times the treatments needed will last according to how long you had pain. So, if it is an issue you have had for 20yrs, then most likely yes, you would need to get treatment as a maintenance, something like taking a pain pill, it may not be needed every week once pain goes away, but it most likely will come back in a reduced state. If it is a fairly new pain, less treatment may get rid of it all together.
Depending on what your symptoms are acupuncturists can generally gauge how many sessions you will be needing.
We do suggest that you go in for a "tune-up" from time to time to make sure your body and systems stay balanced.
Just like your car needs an oil change to prevent it from breaking down and having more issues. Acupuncture can be compared to this analogy.
Acupuncture is great to not only treat back pain but for monthly or weekly maintenance as well. Usually there is a treatment plan to relieve current symptoms and then some type of maintenance to keep muscles balanced etc.
A licensed acupuncturist will be able to examine your case for a specific treatment plan and estimate the frequency and duration of resolution. Those who use acupuncture for maintenance at once a month will have better health because Chinese Medicine addresses all aspects of health.
Many factors will be used to determine the number of treatments you will need to address your back pain. How long that this has been a problem for you will certainly be one of them. Severity, duration and frequency of pain are additional factors. Then, how you respond to treatment is also very important. Usually a course of treatment will be five to seven sessions. In some cases, people who either don't respond well or who have had this problem for longer than a year or more will need several courses of treatment. Obviously, if no improvement is observed, then other factors will need to be considered or a second opinion needed, in case the diagnosis is wrong. As long as you notice improvement and the treatments keep you in good health, you are in good hands and may continue receiving care. What acupuncture does to the body is restore the dynamic of flow between the organs, harmonizing their activity. When the organs are in harmony, there is no room for disease to take root. Therefore, a lifelong commitment would likely serve you well into old age.
Not necessarily. It all depends on the underlying cause.
It depends on how your body responds to acupuncture. Some people only require a few treatments, while others require more. A personal consultation with a Licensed Acupuncturist can help you decide if acupuncture is right for you.
The number of visits needed to alleviate back pain (or any pain) is different for every person. It depends on how severe and how long you have had the pain, how often you get treated, and your life style. Generally speaking, the longer you have had the pain, the longer it will take to alleviate it. However, you don't need to make a lifelong commitment. If after a reasonable number of treatments (4-8 depending) you have not felt any difference in your pain, it may mean that the treatment is not working. In that case, you should talk to your acupuncturist about changing the treatment, referring you to someone else, or you should look for another acupuncturist.
It will be the best treatment you could have for your problem. Once you correct the cause of your problem, you do not need any further treatment. You should consult with your practitioner, what cause of your back problem and how could you help yourself to correct the cause of the problem along with the acupuncture treatment. It may involve some type of change in life style but it will insure you free from back problem rest of your life. Unless you may encounter unfortunate injury again by accident.
Just depends on the type of back pain. If it’s something that is muscular like an injury, that should take a certain amount of treatments to take care of it and then spot treatments if you injure it again. If it’s something like a herniated disc or something physically wrong with the vertebra, that is something you will have to get treatments for as symptoms arise. Depending on your injury and frequency of treatments, you could expect relief from pain for days or weeks at a time. Although it is possible to have your injury treated in one treatment depending on your body.
the length of time for treatments depends. If its acute it will usually take only a few treatments to have relief. If its chronic then the length of time is much longer. And its always a good thing to do for personal maintenance.
Acupuncture can certainly help with your back pain. It can help with any acute pain as well as help to maintain back health. The goal is to be able to spread out the treatments while at the same time keep you pain free. People often return for treatment as soon as they feel the slightest pain. This will ensure there is not another acute flare up
Acupuncture treatment is very good for everyone’s health . It could help your body in better condition . You could have regular acupuncture treatment all your life, but it depend on your time and other condition.
Everyone has a different recommendation for treatment plans. I typically see a patient once a week for 3 weeks and then make follow-up appointment recommendations based on what we are treating. Acupuncture is a form of preventative medicine so it is great to make it a part of your healthy life style. I think of it as a car getting an oil change...the better you keep up with the maintenance, the fewer problems you are likely to encounter.

While some people end up benefitting/enjoying acupuncture & Oriental medicine, thus so receiving it throughout their life, it is NOT required to continue forever. It's about finding balance in the body & feeling better. That could be a one time treatment or a series of sessions. It's difficult to say how long it could take with out meeting you in person & seeing your
health history. However, if acupuncture works for you, you just might find yourself coming back for more. Please remember, we're not all the same. Ask about credentials and other training & experience. Look for the one that is right for you.

Be well,

Alan Schroepfer, LAc
If you want to do acupuncture for back pain, generally, a few sessions can stop the pain. You don't need to do it throughout your whole life. Of course, some clients get other benefits when they relieve the pain. So they would like to do more acupuncture for relaxation, weight loss, allergy, etc.
You can start acupuncture at anytime and also can stop at anytime. Don't worry about side effects and rebound.

Hope this can help you,

Hong Ma
It depends upon the nature of the pain and your response to acupuncture. For "weekend warrior" back pain, you can expect it to resolve typically within three or four treatments. Sciatic pain is trickier, sometimes resolves quickly, sometimes longer. For something like degenerative disc disease, you would be looking at longterm maintenance, as acupuncture can't restore the discs, but can alleviate the pain with succesively longer periods of relief, but not complete resolution.
This question also is very common in clinics. The pain according to Oriental medicine is disharmony and blockage of the energy‘s circulation. The acupuncturist tries to bring back the harmony and unblock the Qi. If I want to give you an example, think of the body as a wheel which has problems rotating by itself, and it needs some PUSH, but this push has to be strong and for several times in the beginning until it can rotate by itself.
Depending on the time which the condition exists and the severity of pain and discomfort, your acupuncturist will ask you to come 1-3 times per week. It depends on your body’s response, she or he will adjust the frequency of treatment, it means if in the first week you get relief for a day, in the fourth week the relief will last for a week or so. Until they reach the results they want, they will reduce the treatment until the patient does not need that push and it stays in harmony by itself.
So, to answer the question, when you start acupuncture, it does not mean you will need it for the rest of your life.

Dr. Maryam Mansouri, Lac. OMD.
It all depends on the cause of the back pain as to how many treatments will be needed.
When I see patients for pain, I typically start with weekly treatments and slowly decrease the frequency as the pain resolves. Once it is resolved, there is no immediate reason to continue treatment outside of prevention and/or minor flare ups. As for how long it takes to resolve, that is dependent upon the condition and the patient's compliance with treatments and homework. If a patient wishes to continue treatment (be it for prophylactic reasons or other conditions) there is always a way I can support them.

First, let me commend you for researching complementary medicine for you back pain. It can be extremely effective for many causes of back pain.

To answer your question, there is no set length of time needed for treatment, but the rule of thumb is that the longer you've had a condition, the longer it will take to fix it. The reason for this is that acupuncture is not a bandaid or a placebo. We are balancing the body's energies so it can actually heal itself. This usually takes time - and consistency. I see people twice a week until their pain levels go down and stay down between treatments, and then we start spreading the appointments further apart. This varies widely from patient to patient.

As far as being a lifelong commitment, the goal is for the problem to be resolved so you don't need to continue coming in. Sometimes people will come back for tune-ups to keep things stable, others will return only if the pain starts to return. Many never have to come back at all.

Having said that, acupuncture works at a whole body/emotion level, so I have many patients who continue coming in just because they feel so much better in other ways, when they do. It's a nice "side effect."

Hope this helps!
Acupuncture helps with easing the pain level. If your pain is chronic and also knowing the underlying condition, I would recommend getting treatments once or twice the month. Also you would need to consult with your doctor. Temporary muscular inflammation due to injury or trauma can be treated with 3 or 4 sessions using combination of acupuncture, cupping, Tuina and manual manipulation. Thanks
Due to the paradigm of western medicine, we expect results for pain, so this is my initial objective. This period to gain relief varies as well as the degree of relief, as all situations are different. However, since the "mechanism" of acupuncture is to shift the body's healing inertia to become active again, there is a deep feeling of "something good happening," or "feeling right." This is why many patients return on occasion to get a tune up and just feel better. 

James F. Jones
It really depends on whether the back pain is acute or chronic. Acute back pain usually improves with 4-6 treatments. Chronic back pain depends on what caused it (sciatica, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, referred pain, etc.). Some chronic back pain may get good results after 12-16 treatments. Some (scoliosis, spinal stenosis) need much longer time.
Length of treatment depends of severity and chronicity of the back pain. Typically, when I treat patients for a recent onset back pain, I only need to see them for about 2 to 4 visits. If the back pain has been going on for a long time or if there are complicating factors, such as bulged discs, treatment often takes longer...

Recovery is dependent on the state of your conditions or issues. It should not take more than two sessions for you to know whether it is helping or not. If you don't feel better or any improvement after two sessions, maybe it is not for you. However, if you feel that it is helping you, you may want to continue for a few more sessions because it takes time for your body to heal. Once you feel better, just come in whenever you are in need.

Good luck,

Danny Khounh, LOM
Typically, depending on the nature and cause of your back pain, it can be resolved with a few courses of treatment and then follow up visits as needed.

Melanie L. Kaplan, L.Ac.
Thank you for your inquiry about acupuncture for your back pain. Typically, what I have noticed in my practice is that for chronic back pain, one can expect to see results in reduction of pain and increased mobility between 1-6 treatments. For an acute condition, that number may reduce to between 1-3 treatments. An initial exam and diagnosis of your condition is very important to give an estimate of treatments and each person responds differently. Many people that have back pain get better quite quickly and then like to come in for monthly maintenance treatments.

Have a great day!

Acupuncture and Wellness of the Palm Beaches
Usually, a few treatments can get big improvement, but all kinds of back pain are different.
In general, treatment is determined by a few factors. What is the constitution of the patient? What is the problem, what caused it, what is the severity, and how long has it been occurring? This will help determine the prognosis for recovery. As to back pain, is it a structural problem or is it muscular? Depending on the severity of the problem, a maintenance program may be necessary after relieving the severity of the condition. However, the issue may be resolved and long-term treatment is not needed. I have patients I see weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or when they feel the need. Regular, long-term treatment should not be required to correct the issue, again, dependent upon the severity and duration of the problem.

Dr. Orsborn, A.P., D.O.M.
Acupuncture can work on 3 different levels.
1. To Heal disease- which for that you go until you feel better.
2. To maintain health, which means that you are better now, and you are going periodically to balance your energy to maintain your health. this can be for as long as you want to maintain your health and well being. The treatments can be once a month.
3. The highest level is helping the patient reach their highest potential. Fulfill their life purpose.
To summarize, you can get few sessions to resolve a condition or you can continue with your treatments to fulfill your life purpose and maintain your health.
Finally, not all acupuncturists can treat people on the spirit level and help them with the life purpose. Five Element acupuncture is the type of acupuncture that specializes in that aspect.
Acute issues resolve quickly. Chronic issues may take longer, but many people get results quickly. If a flare-up occurs, then return for a visit. "Lifelong commitment' does not mean you have to be treated forever, but for wellness and stability sometimes a seasonal or annual check up is worthwhile.
I am pleased to know that you are considering starting Acupuncture for your back pain. in answer to your question Acupuncture generally works well for any type of pain and will most likely help your pain as well. You do not have to continue Acupuncture for the rest of your life, however it would not be a bad idea to continue using Acupuncture as a means to maintain your body's balance and keep the back pain at bay as needed. Usually after you have achieved wellness your Acupuncture Physician will put you on a maintenance program as a means of prevention and to maintain your body's balance.
Yours in Health!