Patterns of Healing
Multiple Factors to Consider
Besides the nature of your chief complaint, many other factors can influence how you will respond to your acupuncture treatment including things like age, overall health, genetics, and compliance with taking herbs and making dietary changes. In truth, there are probably hundreds of other variables that influence our health on a daily basis. In general, however, the sooner you seek treatment, the more mild the condition, the better your overall health, and the more compliant you are with the treatment plan, the faster you will see improvement. The nature of your condition also plays a role in your progress. For example, symptoms that are more variable, that come and go, or that vary in severity are easier to treat than those that are constant and intense. It is also easier to treat conditions that are milder, flare up less frequently, are less susceptible to triggers, and recover faster when they do flare up.
Patterns of Progress
Healing rarely takes place in a linear fashion. Though steady, continuous improvement is the goal, this is not typical. Just as most conditions usually advance in steps or phases, most people improve in this way as well. Sometimes there is a smaller shift at first, followed by a more dramatic acceleration of the healing process. This is usually seen with the most chronic of conditions which, because of their persistent nature, can be a bit more stubborn and resistant to change at first. Sometimes, as we peel back the layers, change comes in steps, with periods of rapid shift alternating with plateaus of no change. In this pattern, typically the most recent symptoms will clear up first. In other cases, symptoms may get a little worse before they get better, though this is uncommon. Usually, this happens with chronic pain, as blockages release and open, or if we are working on a condition that requires an initial process of detoxification. Then there are things like genetic conditions or major injuries that have caused permanent tissue damage or irreversible changes in organ function. Fortunately, even though cure may not be possible in these cases, periodic treatments can help manage these types of conditions very well. In truth, authentic healing is an individualized, transformational process that can affect us in ways that go well beyond the resolution of symptoms.
Just like most other types of medical treatments, there is a wide range of ways in which people respond to acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In my experience, the vast majority of people gain notable relief from their symptoms with no negative side effects, whatever the condition. For acute symptoms that have only been present for days or weeks, just a couple of treatments can make a dramatic difference. If the condition is more chronic, present for months or years, a series of treatments is more appropriate. For these types of conditions, a deeper shift is usually required, with symptoms resolving over time as systems are balanced and organ function is normalized. A typical course of treatment for a chronic condition may begin with a few weekly sessions to jump-start the process, followed by a few more every other week. Most people who come for chronic conditions, even those that have been around for decades, average a total of five to ten treatments. For wellness and prevention, treatments every four to six weeks are good. For those who are seeking palliative care, like pain management, some keep things in check by coming at regular intervals while others come in only when symptoms flare up. Since the process of healing unfolds in such individualized ways, I strongly believe in re-evaluating together as we go, adjusting your treatment plan accordingly. In truth, the number of treatments you receive ultimately depends on how far you want to go with the process, whether it be the simple relief of acute symptoms or the complete resolution of a complex, chronic condition.