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“As a general rule, the longer a patient has had a problem, the longer it will take to treat. Fortunately, this does not mean it takes exactly as long to treat as it took to develop the problem. I tell my patients that if a problem took years to develop, it may take months to treat, a problem that took months to develop will usually take weeks to treat, one that took weeks to develop may only take days to treat, and something that just popped-up may resolve in just one or two treatments.”


“As far as acupuncture and acupressure goes, treatments are usually begun at a more frequent pace, perhaps two or three treatments per week before the frequency is reduced to once a week or once every other week. In some acute conditions, it is often useful to do a few daily treatments to get the problem under control before spreading the treatments out. The frequency of the treatments is more dictated by cost than by therapeutic value. While the Chinese are now beginning to move away from fully socialized medicine, over the last few decades many medical services were provided at no cost. In such a system, acupuncture was often done daily, perhaps for 10 days in a row. This was called a “series” of treatments. Some patients would undergo several series of treatments. In the U.S., while there is some limited insurance coverage for acupuncture, many patients have to pay out of pocket for treatment. Due to these cost concerns many acupuncturists have learned how to squeeze the most benefit out of the least number of treatments by spacing them out as mentioned above. If a patient can afford it, it is better to do more frequent treatment as this can speed recovery.”


“I like to tell my patients that every treatment process will have a beginning, middle and an ending phase. The beginning phase is making anything positive happen for the patient, the middle is where you build on that progress and take the improvement as far as possible. The last phases is making the improvement last as long as possible. Although every person is different and can respond differently to treatment, those who get off to a faster start and show more improvement sooner in the first phase, will almost always end up needing fewer treatments overall than those who take longer before they first see any improvement. Because of this, I often tell my patients that I will be able to advise them how many treatments will end up being needed only after I see how well they respond in the first phase. In many complex cases, I recommend 5-8 treatments over 3-5 weeks as a good first phase. Most people should show some progress during this time and then, depending on the degree of progress, I will be able to tell my patients how many more treatments will likely be necessary in total. Some people will have significant improvement within the first one or two treatments and may only require a few more treatments after that, especially if their problem is a more recent one. Complex or chronic problems may only begin to respond after 5-6 treatments.”


“However many treatments it takes before symptoms begin to improve, once improvement begins and one moves into the second phase of treatment, this improvement should build over time. This may not happen with each and every treatment but progress should be steady overall. This phase is like watching a graph chart of the stock market. There may be a dip one day, but overall you want to see steady improvement. Eventually this improvement will plateau either with the elimination of all symptoms or with only partial improvement. If the improvement is only partial, it is possible that more treatment will once again move things beyond this plateau and provide further improvement. Knowing if the treatment has reached its maximum therapeutic value or is just at a temporary plateau, is one of the more difficult things to know in reaction medicine. Sometimes it is wise to take a sort break from treatment, perhaps 2 or 3 weeks, before starting another round of treatments, as this can help jump start the progress again.”


“Once the maximum therapeutic value of the treatment has been reached, the final phases of treatment consist of doing a few more treatments with longer periods of time between, perhaps 2 to 4 weeks. This is done to see if the improvement holds or if the symptoms start to return. If symptoms return then the last phase had not been reached and more treatment is needed. If there is no return of the symptoms then treatment can be suspended and the problem should not return. People often ask if the effects of acupuncture are temporary. They should not be unless some significant stress on the affected area that was treated occurs. For example, if someone has suffered low back pain for 10 years, goes through 3 months of treatment in which the pain completely resolves, the pain should not return two weeks, or even two months, after treatment is stopped. If, in this example, this patient should have a fall and land on their back, their pain might return but, otherwise, the problem should have been healed as reaction medicine helps the body to heal itself.”