Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How long do the effects of acupuncture last?

I'm 50 years old, and I have arthritis in my hands. I want to try acupuncture because I know that it's worked well for my friends. How long do the effects usually last?

13 Answers

The effects are very individualized. It may take a few weeks of treatments once a week, but after than it will get less often. I treat a few with RA in the hands, most come in for maintenance every 3-5 weeks. It keeps them going in their day to day living.
Every individual responds differently when receiving acupuncture treatments. It can last a day, more than a day, up to a week. It also depends on how severe the arthritis is.
The effect of acupuncture usually last for depend on severity of of the symptoms and the time taken to heal depend on how long the patient has had the symptoms for.
The results of lasting treatment depend on the individual being treated.
Based on one research by Taxes medical school in the late 90', it lasts from 2 hours to 5 days. I bet many more studies have been done before and after they did the research. It matches my clinical experiences.
For a condition like arthritis which is chronic, effects of acupuncture will be very variable depending on the specific patient's health and underlying constitution. Some may find relief for hours, others up to a week, and treatments need to be continued to keep relief going. Acupuncture tends to be a cumulative process, meaning one treatment may last 5 days but a subsequent treatment may last 7 and so on. Committing to a treatment plan of at least 6 weekly treatments and then re-assessing how things are going after those 6 weeks is a good course of action so that you can see how progress has been made (or not). With chronic conditions, and conditions like repetitive stress injury - where we are always using that part of our body (like the hands), getting 100% relief is unlikely without subsequent and diligent treatment, but with acupuncture being just as effective and without the side effects of pain mediations, for many it's a really great option.
Unfortunately, there is no "usual" answer to this question any more than it would for any other medical modality. I have had pain patients who got treatment and it lasted years, and I have had patients who felt good only until they got home and then there's everything in between. I do know that the more one gets treatment, the more the healthy aspect seems to last, so if you have gotten a treatment and it lasted 3 days, the next time it may last a good week or more, etc. The problem is that life still takes over and activity can exacerbate issues - which is really unrelated to the treatments. Also, other aspects come into view like our emotional states, our stresses happening in different moments of life, etc.

So, the true answer is that I cannot know the future, but I do know that it will be helpful for you most likely and that it will keep getting better longer or, if you are one of those "miracle patients," it may stay well for a good long time.

Good luck.
Treating arthritis isn't a one-shot deal. It takes a series of treatments, usually a couple times a week for several weeks. Once the pain goes down and stays down between treatments, then I spread them out to once a week, then once every two weeks, etc., until the pain stays down or gone. Then you're good to go. If something starts to hurt again, I recommend that patients come back right away for a treatment or two to take care of it.

Hope that answers your question.
Each person is different, and their response to treatments will vary. Some people begin to feel results after 2-3 sessions, but other patients may not begin to feel shifts until 10 or so. It is very dependent on the patient, severity of the symptoms, and how often they are able to come for treatment.
Overall, the length of time where symptoms are alleviated varies depending on many different factors. In my experience, the best results come from regular treatments. I usually start with seeing patients on a weekly basis. Once relief lasts the full week, we decrease the frequency to once every 2 weeks. Then once relief lasts for 2 weeks, we decrease to treatments once every 3 weeks, etc. Eventually, patient's will come in on their own "maintenance" schedule and some no longer require my services.
If you got good treatment, it will last a long time, even never relapse again.
It's hard to say how long it will last, as everyone responds to treatment differently. I would say to go once every month. If you feel the pain coming back before your next visit, then make it every 3 weeks or every two weeks. The goal is to get you out of pain and have you come in for maintenance treatment BEFORE your pain flares up again.
Good question. In studies acupuncture has been shown to have a dose dependent effect. What this means is, to a point, more treatments will give superior/longer lasting results.

With pain patients, a lot depends on how long you've been experiencing the pain and how severe the pain currently is. A typical course of therapy might be 5-7 treatments spaced 1 week apart followed by increasing the time between treatments until some maintenance interval is found which gives you sufficient pain relief.

The maintenance interval is mostly an individual thing. I've had patients whose interval was monthly and patients who came to see me twice a year after we got their issue under control.

When you start seeing an acupuncturist, expect a little up and down in your pain levels as you progress. Typically my patients experience a sharp reduction in pain after the first or second treatment. This initial reduction will last a day or two and then the pain returns. Each subsequent treatment reduces the pain a little more and/or extends the time for which the pain is either relieved or reduced. When the patient can go 5-7 days with either no or minimal pain, then we start to space the treatments out.