One of the questions patients ask most often is how often they should get acupuncture treatments. Think of acupuncture like eating healthy. Even the most nutritious, wholesome meal is wasted if you eat it only once. In other words, you must be ready to commit to months of returning acupuncture visits to get results. Frequency differs from one individual to the next but always progresses through three key phases. These phases include treatment objective, transition schedule, and wellness regimen.

Phase One: Treatment Objective

Why are you getting acupuncture in the first place? Have you had chronic back pain for years? Did you just injure your ankle few days ago? Are you pregnant and need relief from morning sickness? Are you interested in weight loss? Most of these concerns can be addressed with a similar schedule.  Generally, a good rule of thumb is to commit to ten acupuncture treatments. Patients who have chronic health concerns need two treatments per week for at least five weeks. In some cases, your practitioner may approve one session per week for ten weeks.

After your first ten sessions, your acupuncturist can help you assess your progress and determine if a longer course of treatment is appropriate for your condition. At this point you can either continue treatments at the same frequency until the desired result is achieved, or you can proceed to a transition schedule which is critical to successfully resuming a healthy lifestyle.

Phase Two: Transition Schedule

After you have experienced sufficient improvement from your regularly scheduled acupuncture sessions, it is important to consider that your body may need several sessions to maintain optimal function. Don’t sabotage your progress by discontinuing treatment too soon. Phase two is composed of ten sessions spread out over a longer period of time than phase one. The frequency of acupuncture treatments at this stage is half as often as before. For example, if you were receiving acupuncture once every week before you may graduate to one treatment every two weeks.

This transition schedule serves the purpose of continuing healing while returning slowly to previous activity levels. For instance, if you have had severe back pain for ten years and you experience substantial relief after five weeks you should continue treatment for several weeks to ensure you can handle demanding events like moving day or race day.

Phase Three: Wellness Regimen

Now that you have completed your recommended course of treatment and transitioned back into normal daily tasks, it’s time to consider your wellness regimen. This regimen is for those who are otherwise healthy and pain-free. I recommend everyone receive one acupuncture session per month at this point. Why you ask? This is the essence of preventive medicine—taking care of yourself before there is a chronic issue. Because deserve to be healthy and happy.

An example of a treatment plan for how often to receive acupuncture treatments:

Phase 1 (Healing) 10 Treatments 2 Treatments per Week
Phase 2 (Transition) 10 Treatments 1 Treatment per Week
Phase 3 (Preventive Care) Indefinite 1 Treatment per Month