Patients receiving acupuncture want to know how to get the most out of their treatment. Two factors to consider are length of treatment time and frequency of treatments.
One of the most common questions asked by an acupuncture patient is, “What is the optimal length of time for an acupuncture to get the best results?”
The optimal length of an acupuncture session can vary greatly depending on the individual and the condition being treated. When left to rest without being disturbed, most patients are ready to finish their treatment at about 40-60 minutes.
With over eight years of clinical experience, I have observed that it is most effective to determine the optimal length for a treatment based on each individual rather than using a predetermined treatment time. There are some patients who cannot sit still for longer than 20 minutes and some that are more than happy to take a 2 hour nap. These are both extreme examples, but most feel well “done’ somewhere in the 40-60 minute range.
One of the best ways to determine the optimal treatment time for a patient is to instruct them to listen to their body’s signals. Most people will enter a relaxed state during their acupuncture treatment. At some point in the treatment, the patient will become more alert or wake up if they have fallen asleep. This is usually a good indicator that they have gotten the rest they need.
Sometimes a patient may feel more alert throughout the entire session. In this case, using the 30 minute minimum guideline is a good rule of thumb.
The second factor to consider is the frequency of treatment. Patients will often ask, “How soon can I come back?” or “Is it to soon to come back tomorrow or the next day?”
Just like determining the length of treatment for an individual, the frequency of treatment is going to be dependent on how the individual responds to treatment and the nature of their condition.
A patient will generally experience relief from an acupuncture treatment for anywhere from several hours to complete resolution. In the case where the symptoms are completely eliminated there is no need for further treatments. When a patient experiences relief for a limited amount of time, then ideally they should return for a followup treatment before their symptoms return to the original level.
Patients with acute conditions with a high level of pain will generally benefit from more frequent treatment. Those with chronic conditions and more manageable levels of pain can spread out their treatments further apart based on the guidelines presented above.
In China, it is not unusual for a course of 10 treatments to be administered daily or every other day. The closer together the treatments are performed the more effective they will generally be.
These general guidelines produce the most effective results meeting the unique needs of each individual receiving acupuncture treatments.