For example, if it is an acute neck & upper back muscular tightness that is causing the pain then it may only take one treatment to get rid of the pain completely until the next time the next gets strained again. Or if it is back pain do to spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal which pinches the spinal cord) then the pain relief may only last a few hours to a day or two before it returns, this is because in this case it will take time to correct the narrowing if at all. These are just examples. The general rule of thumb is if the correct diagnosis is made and the appropriate corresponding acupuncture treatment prescription is utilized usually I see at least a 50% reduction in pain symptoms if it is not completely gone with the first treatment. I then ask the patient to see how long the pain relief lasts. Based on their response it is a good idea to schedule the next acupuncture treatment as soon as the pain symptoms start to return. That way you aren't riding the pain rollercoaster. For example, let's say that you come in with neck pain and it is at a 10 out-of-10 on the pain scale. I treat you with acupuncture and your pain subsides. If the pain starts to come back and we waited then it could get back to being a 10 but, if we don't wait and you come in as soon as it starts to hurt again then you can decrease the intensity and increase the length of time that the pain relief lasts longer so that you can eventually get out of pain & discomfort altogether. Unless there is something underlying that is physically inhibiting the healing process for example a bone spur, etc.
Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
Shuko Ward DAOM, LAc., Dipl.OM, FABORM
Everyone is experiencing the pain relief duration by Acupuncture differently. It depends on the status of your illnesses. One may feel free of pain for months to years, and other might need a regular treatment for tune such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and more..
Larissa Stewart, L.Ac
That being said, acupuncture has a cumulative effect. So as you continue with regular treatments, the relief will last longer and longer.
Discuss your body's reaction to the treatments with your practitioner so they can modify and/or record how the work progresses and they can help you in real time.
1. How severe is the pain?
2. Is the pain chronic or acute? In other words, how long has the patient been experiencing the pain?
3. Are there lifestyle adjustments which may impact the pain?
4. Is there a definite cause for the pain?
5. How good is the acupuncturist at treating pain?
Generally speaking, acupuncture is not a "one and done" type of treatment. Most studies show pain relieving effects kick in, on average, at around 8 treatments. Some people will respond more quickly, some more slowly.
Studies also show that once a patient hits the loading dose 8 treatment number, pain relief can persist for an average of 12 months with little fall off in effect.
I specialize in pain management and my "sweet spot" for most pain conditions is around 4 treatments. After that, we start spacing the treatments out so we can find a maintenance interval that works for a given individual. Every case is different; some will have a 4-6 week maintenance interval and some will have a 4-6 month maintenance interval. Sometimes the stars align, we hit the nail on the head, and the pain resolves.