How many acupuncture treatments are needed to see results?

By: Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

One of the first questions asked when considering acupuncture as a treatment option is ‘how many acupuncture treatments are needed for insomnia/sciatica/anxiety/etc.’

It is difficult to answer exactly how many acupuncture sessions are needed as it differs on a case by case basis. The full picture of one’s health and the nature of the issue must be taken in context to provide a personal treatment timeframe.

Number of acupuncture sessions needed

Results can be seen in as little as one treatment, though a few more sessions may be required for more durable effects. There are general guidelines for the number of acupuncture sessions needed, which are based on the experience of acupuncturists:

  • Acute cases: 3-6 treatments for a lasting resolution
  • Chronic cases: 6-10 treatments for positive changes, 10-20 sessions for consolidation of changes and more lasting changes
Does this reflect your experience?x

These estimates do reflect what I often observe in my Melbourne acupuncture clinic.

These infographics help to get an idea of the experience of acupuncturists in treating certain conditions

In a 2018 survey of over 180 acupuncturists, Katie Altneu asked how many treatments they found on average produces significant changes for their clients for a range of conditions. Her findings help to gain a loose expectation of average treatment timeframes.

Pain conditions

  • Acute back pain: 3-4 treatments
  • Acute injuries or pain: 3-4 treatments
  • Chronic back pain: 6-8 treatments
  • Chronic injuries or pain: 10-12 treatments
  • Headaches: 4-6 treatments
  • Migraines: 8-10 treatments

Internal Health Conditions

  • Insomnia: 8-10 treatments
  • Fatigue: 8-10 treatments
  • Digestive/Bloating/IBS Symptoms: 6-8 treatments
  • Allergies: 6-8 treatments
  • Anxiety/Depression: 8-10 treatments

Women’s Health

  • Menstrual Symptoms: 8-10 treatments
  • Menopausal Symptoms: 8-10 treatments
  • Subfertility: 4-5 months

These are loose guidelines. The data from this survey was informally gathered, but by no means is meant to be prescriptive.

How many acupuncture treatments you need is dependent on factors such as the length of time and severity of your health issues.

Also, the ability/willingness to make changes around aggravating factors play a part in this.

When considering the affordability of acupuncture, the cost must also be taken into consideration. This does not reflect the value, but your ability to find the best treatment option for you. This article discusses some of the factors and median costs regarding acupuncturists fees.

For more insight into your specific health issues and expectations for treatment timeframes, it is advisable to talk to a professional health practitioner.

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What else would you like to know?

Thanks for reading this far. Have I missed your question? Was something unclear? Let me know in the comments below, I read and respond to everyone!

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Dr Jason Chong (Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician)

Traditional East Asian Medicine Physician. Educator.

Jason is the owner and principal practitioner at Dantian Health, providing consultations for Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine and Japanese Acupuncture in Melbourne, Australia.

He is a qualified acupuncture physician, Classical Chinese herbal medicine clinician, shiatsu practitioner and tuina therapist, Oriental therapies educator and director at the Australian Shiatsu College.

Jason's qualifications include:

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