Acupuncture is a holistic treatment with an ancient history. Dating back roughly 2,500 years, the art of pressing needles into unique pressure points throughout the body has built up quite a reputation.
Despite the benefits of acupuncture and its lengthy history, this treatment is still fairly misunderstood. Many people assume it’s painful or not likely to be effective — until they try it, that is.
If you’re considering giving this treatment a go, but find yourself wondering ”how long does it take for acupuncture to work?”, everything you need to know can be found in this blog.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
This is a treatment based on the practice of ancient Chinese medicine. Traditionally, it is used to treat a myriad of conditions by relieving certain pressure points throughout the body with very fine needles.
Contrary to what many people may think, acupuncture is considered a minimally invasive treatment that is not as painful as it seems, and carries very few side-effects.
The physiological purpose of acupuncture is to stimulate nerve-rich areas of the body that lie just beneath the skin’s surface. An acupuncture practitioner pierces the skin and stimulates these nerves. This then influences specific tissues, glands, and organs, which goes on to influence important functions of the body.
Essentially, each acupuncture point is an ”injury” site. However, you’ll most likely feel little to no discomfort due to the thinness of each needle. These injury sites signal to the body that it needs to respond.
The body’s response stimulates the immune system, which then increases blood circulation to each area. This promotes a host of positive outcomes, including pain and tension relief, wound healing, reduced inflammation, and more.
What Conditions Can Be Treated with Acupuncture?
Most commonly, acupuncture is used to treat muscle pain and tension, chronic headaches, and migraines. It’s also a great treatment for relaxation and stress relief.
Although the science isn’t necessarily 100% sound, many people claim that the treatment has helped them with the following conditions:
- The management and relief of allergies
- Anxiety and depression management
- Osteoarthritis pain relief and mobility
- Chronic pain relief
- Hypertension management
- Menstrual cramp relief
- Sprain healing and pain relief
- The management of morning sickness in pregnant women
It’s worth noting that acupuncture is not a once-off cure for all of the above ailments. But rather, it should be seen as a treatment plan, spread out over a number of sessions in order to see truly positive results. Generally, 1-2 sessions per week, over the course of 5-6 weeks is a normal course of treatment.
How Long Does it Take For Acupuncture to Work?
The results of acupuncture treatment vary from person to the next. This is because acupuncture efficacy depends on the condition being treated, the overall health of the person, and how long they’ve been suffering from this condition.
There is no one specific answer to how long it takes for acupuncture to work. However, there is a general set of conditions one should keep in mind when considering acupuncture:
1. Your Personal Symptoms
Whether you’re experiencing pain, headaches, migraines, or anxiety, all of your symptoms are unique to you. The same goes for the root cause of your condition. So when it comes to your expectations on acupuncture efficacy, keep this in mind:
- The severity of your condition on a scale of 1-10. The closer to 10, the more treatment you may need to feel results
- The general condition of your health — are you suffering from any other health conditions that could slow down your recovery?
- The root cause of your condition — what has led to your pain, tension, headaches, anxiety, depression, etc.?
Remember that your daily level of activity or inactivity could also exacerbate your condition.
2. The Duration of Your Condition
The longer you have been living with your specific condition, the longer it will take to feel any real results from acupuncture. Keep in mind that acupuncture is a natural treatment, based on a slower, gentler, and more holistic form of healing.
Try to manage your expectations and know that it may take a few sessions before you begin to reap the benefits of acupuncture. This treatment is based on the premise of helping the body establish new habits of healing. Acupuncture essentially encourages the body to heal itself.
This being said, it is likely that you will feel a deep sense of relief and relaxation after your first treatment. You may also experience sensitivity in the treated areas and muscle stiffness a day or two after your session.
If you are looking for relief from muscle tension and pain, you could also feel these tight areas start to loosen up, a day or two after each session.
How to Assess If Acupuncture Is Working For You
The results of acupuncture treatment may be quick and intense for some people, while they may feel far more subtle for others. Again, this is largely dependent on your own personal set of circumstances.
However, there are signs to look out for that indicate positive change, especially in your basic daily functioning:
- Look for a change in your sleep pattern, if your sleep has improved, this is a positive sign
- Observe your appetite and digestion — if your gut is happy, this is a good sign
- How are you, emotionally? If you feel better adept at handling your emotions, this also positive
- Observe your physical symptoms — has your pain reduced, do you have anxiety, etc.?
Yes, the physical symptoms and changes may be easier to notice after an acupuncture treatment. But it’s also important to tune into other functions of your body, such as physiological and emotional changes.
This takes some practice, but the more acupuncture treatment you receive, the better you’ll become at noticing these positive changes.
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So, how long does it take for acupuncture to work? The truth is, there is no definitive answer. But there are some obvious and more subtle cues that your body will give you so that you know the treatment is working. Tune into these cues and learn to understand your body better!
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