Patient receiving an acupuncture treatment.

Exploring the Benefits of Acupuncture – How Long Does It Take To See Results?

Acupuncture is an ancient alternative medicine that’s been around for thousands of years, treating conditions without medication.

Whether you’re seeking relief from chronic pain, trying to reduce anxiety and stress, or simply aiming to enhance your overall well-being, understanding the timeline of acupuncture’s effects can help set realistic expectations and guide you on your healing journey. So acupuncture: how long does it take to work? Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents:

  1. Exploring the Benefits of Acupuncture – How Long Does It Take To See Results?
  2. Defining Acupuncture
    1. Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling
    2. Side Effects
  3. How Long Before You Notice a Difference?
    1. Acupuncture Treatments
    2. Treating Infertility
    3. Nausea Relief Without Medication
    4. What to Expect in Your First Session
    5. Studies Evaluating Effectiveness
    6. Improve Your Well-Being Today

Defining Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that uses acupuncture needles to stimulate pressure points on the body (also referred to as acupuncture points). It’s a traditional Chinese medicine where thin needles are inserted at acupuncture points throughout the body where energy is blocked by illness or injury. By inserting acupuncture needles at these specific points, acupuncture practitioners can unblock this energy flow and restore balance to your body.

These points throughout the body are connected through energy pathways called meridians. That energy is called Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling

Dry needling is a modern, Western medicine technique that focuses on musculoskeletal conditions. It primarily targets trigger points and tight muscles to improve function, release tension, and provide pain relief. Thin needles are inserted into the tightened muscle area to release tension with the goal of stimulating a local twitching in that muscle. Acupuncture typically addresses overall health and qi imbalances, whereas dry needling is more localized to target specific problem areas. Dry needling can be done by any trained practitioner (such as a physical therapist or chiropractor), but acupuncture must be done by a certified acupuncturist or licensed chiropractor.

While dry needling targets many acupuncture points throughout the body, it is distinct from acupuncture. But there is still some overlap in the conditions that both dry needling and acupuncture can treat, so talk with a qualified practitioner to determine which practice to try or if a combination of both is needed.

Side Effects

Before your acupuncture session, share any health conditions with your acupuncturist for accurate treatment. While not common, you may see some side effects after your acupuncture treatment. It is possible for the injection site to become red or sore. This side effect is mild and goes away on its own. It is also a normal response to feel tired afterward because the treatment moves and affects the body’s energy (qi). This fatigue fades shortly after the appointment.

How Long Before You Notice a Difference?

As with any medical treatment, the time it takes to notice the effects of acupuncture can vary depending on the condition and its severity. Some people may experience immediate relief, while others may need regular acupuncture appointments for a few weeks.

For example, acute lower back pain could be alleviated with one treatment. Chronic health issues (including anxiety) may take a routine of weekly sessions, at which time the acupuncturist will talk with you about a treatment plan.

Acupuncture Treatments

There are countless ways acupuncture is used to improve wellness, including the treatment of both long- and short-term health conditions. Some health issues that can be addressed by acupuncture include:

    • Migraines
    • Menstrual cramps
    • Neck pain
    • Back pain
    • Depression
    • Allergies
    • High blood pressure

Treating Infertility

Studies are ongoing to see if acupuncture plays a role in infertility. It’s used as a complementary course of treatment for many types of health issues, including those related to pregnancy. Struggling to become pregnant can cause the body a great deal of stress. Acupuncture treatment can help relieve stress and improve relaxation, aiding those trying to conceive.

Nausea Relief Without Medication

Did you know that acupuncture treatment can actually relieve nausea brought on by pregnancy or chemotherapy? Both pregnant people and cancer patients are limited in their available treatment, leaving very few options to alleviate nausea. Acupuncture is safe during both pregnancy and cancer treatment, finally relieving chronic nausea for these patients.

It’s strongly recommended to contact your primary healthcare provider if you’re inquiring about acupuncture as a complementary treatment to your ongoing treatment plan, no matter the health issue.

What to Expect in Your First Session

As with any medical appointment, your acupuncturist will ask questions for their records (and course of treatment) at your first acupuncture session about your medical history. This is to properly identify the acupuncture points that need to be stimulated.

First, expect to talk about your medical history and any current symptoms you have, along with any related goals you have. A physical exam may be performed, including a quick vitals check.

Then, the session moves into a personalized acupuncture treatment plan. While you lay down on a treatment table, thin acupuncture needles are inserted for a specific amount of time. While not common, you may experience mild soreness, bruising, fatigue, or dizziness. Talk with your acupuncturist about how you’re feeling during the appointment and immediately following the treatment.

Studies Evaluating Effectiveness

There have been many studies over the years regarding acupuncture and its effectiveness. For example, in the Journal of Pain, an evidence-based study concluded that acupuncture effectively provided pain relief in patients who received 6 to 15 acupuncture sessions throughout the year. Data from more than 20,000 patients were collected for the study.

Another study published in the National Library of Medicine proved that the endorphins released by acupuncture stimulation inhibit pain perception naturally and without medicine. This release of his hormone is what helps reduce pain and ease anxiety.

Improve Your Well-Being Today

So how long does it take acupuncture to work? It depends on your health issue and its severity, but you can expect to feel some relief immediately following your first acupuncture session. Try this type of alternative medicine at either our Meridian Road Campus or the Poland office. For other FAQs about the benefits of acupuncture and defining a course of treatment for you, contact Meridian HealthCare today.