In order to answer the question of why acupuncture requires multiple visits, it is important to understand the philosophy of traditional Chinese Medicine. In the western world, people who are ill will typically visit a doctor for examination and some form of treatment, often a prescription for pills, to be cured of the condition. In other words, the approach to medical care in our society is to find the problem that is causing illness and to “fix” it with a quick treatment, like antibiotics, for example. By contrast, in traditional Chinese Medicine, the approach to medical care is more accurately thought of as the approach to maintaining good health.
The maintenance of good health is also thought of in Chinese Medicine as the maintenance of balance in the body. The practices of acupuncture, Cupping and Chinese Herbs are all considered ways of promoting a healing process that returns the body to its normal state of balance. In other words, when illness strikes an individual, that person is not “broken” but rather “out of balance.” The onset of symptoms indicate that the individual was living a lifestyle that was out of balance prior to the time the symptoms began.
The reason that many acupuncture visits are often required is that the return to balance takes time for the body to achieve. The amount of time required will vary from person to person, but in all cases, the body has to really work to recapture the sense of balance it had prior to the onset of illness. Over time, the acupuncture treatment will start to take effect and good health will eventually be restored.
The number of acupuncture treatments needed to reach a state of balance is different for every person, depending how long the individual has suffered from the health problem. For example, if a person has lived with a nagging back ache for several months, it is likely the corresponding treatment will take several acupuncture treatments before significant progress is made. If a neck ache was the result of an incident the prior week, the treatment would likely take far fewer visits. The longer the problem has existed, the longer it will take to heal. In addition, generally acupuncture treatment is most effective when the visits occur close together. Once the patient feels some relief, the visits can be spaced out more to twice and then once a week.