When people first come to me for acupuncture, more often than not, it is because something is wrong and either they have tried "everything else" and nothing is else is working, or they are tired of taking prescription meds for the condition, either because the pills are, or have become, ineffective, or the clients just don't want to be on long-term meds because of the side effects or potential damage down the road.
I find myself explaining that acupuncture is not a magic pill. One treatment is not going to fix you. Especially not if you have been living with the condition for an extended period of time, or it's a chronic or degenerative condition, or if you are older, or have poor lifestyle habits, or "bad genes." But it can help.
I treated an obese man in his fifties who had endured multiple neck, back, and knee surgeries beginning in his twenties. After three acupuncture appointments in two weeks, he gave up because his surgeon told him he still needed a procedure that was already scheduled. The man admitted that he had hoped acupuncture would cure him in that short time so that he would not need the surgery. The best I could offer at that point was acupuncture to support his pre-op preparedness and post-op healing.
Acupuncture is a lifestyle, like eating right and getting adequate exercise and rest. It can help you get healthy and keep you there, but it takes a commitment from you.
I always tell people about my internship experience in China: People would get acupuncture every single day until their condition was resolved, or improved enough for them to get treatments less frequently. I also tell them I realize that is not very realistic to expect daily appointments from people here in the US where we have different priorities, demanding schedules, and limited finances, but the more frequently you go, the more quickly you will see results, and the more significant those results will be. Please consider that you can spend the money now and maintain your health, or you can spend it later when you become ill.
It may take awhile for your body to respond to treatment, not unlike any other method, be it traditional, holistic, pharmaceutical, or surgical. You may have a condition or "pattern" (as it's referred to in TCM) that responds to one needle protocol but not another, even though the point functions are all similar. Maybe you need a different combination, more stimulation, or less. This all reveals itself with continuing sessions.
I know a 57 year old woman who began her acupuncture journey two years ago to resolve hot flashes associated with menopause. She now regularly takes herbs and I give her acupuncture treatments every month. She does not suffer from hot flashes, and she hasn't contracted so much as a cold since I've known her.
I also know a 41 year old man who lives a physically demanding lifestyle. When I first met him nearly three years ago, he had chronic shoulder pain from decades of throwing a ball, swinging a bat, and working blue collar jobs. With regular care, and listening to his body, I can't remember the last time he complained of shoulder pain, and he is still working and playing ball.
Neither of these people saw immediate results after the first session, but with continued care they have improved and maintained their health, and continue to do so. Personally, I receive acupuncture every other week, and an average of three massages per month. In addition to eating right, getting regular exercise, and adequate rest, that's what I need to feel healthy. Acupuncture is a key part of my preventative self-care.
You'll see results with acupuncture, but you have to do your part as well.
California Licensed Acupuncturist, mother of two, zoo member.