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Treatment Frequency - The 'What'

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

In the United States, this is one of the most important topics concerning Acupuncture Medicine. And the reason it’s so important is that it can make or break a treatment outcome. In this article, we’ll be talking about the ‘what’ or the situation as it is.

A brief definition of “Acupuncture Medicine”: This is also Tool Medicine. That which involves, needles, moxabustion, cupping, scraping (gua sha), and various other tools that are used for therapeutic means. This is one of the four pillars of East Asian Medicine. The other three being: manual therapy, Herbs and Diet, and Qi Gong ( Chee Gung or mind, breath, and muscle movements).

In most Asian countries that practice this medicine on a normal basis (China and Taiwan especially, but also Japan, Korea, and Vietnam) treatment frequency is every day, twice a day, or every other day, with a course running for 5-10 days, a short break, then it resumes. This can be done a number of times depending on the severity of the health issue. For westerners who have a chance to observe this in action, “miracles” happen on a regular basis. Funny enough, there are no “ancient Chinese secrets” happening here and one does not have to go to China to become competent in the Medicine. Especially being in New York, where we have some of the most experienced and powerful practitioners on Earth, as well as great schools.

There are two major issues for us. One is old patterns, the other is accessibility. Once a week is the norm for many other practitioners such as massage and psychotherapy. So this pattern influenced acupuncture, especially because many of these practitioners became acupuncturists. Accessibility is an issue because of time and money.

So how do we reconcile these issues?

The big one here is ‘accessibility’ and usually financial. The ‘time’ factor will vary from one person’s schedule to another. Financially, insurance plans can range in benefits, going from unlimited to 12 visits per year. Out-of-pocket costs can get pricey. How many people can

afford $85 to $150 dollars per session at a rate of two, three, or more times per week? To be fair, not every practitioner gives the same treatment. What you get for $150 could be different than what you get for $85, as far as time spent in the room and hands on but that’s a whole other discussion. And it should be added that once a week treatment can be worthwhile *if* you are doing other things for your health to move the dial in the right direction. If you have shoulder pain and you get treatment once a week but do therapeutic movement (PT or Qi Gong), make lifestyle changes, and take herbs or supplements, you’re going to increase your chance of getting a satisfactory outcome.

Either way, more frequency, even with less time in the room will be greatly beneficial. If you were practicing a musical instrument, would it be better to practice everyday for 10 minutes or once a week for 70? Everyday, of course and I know this is not a perfect analogy but neurological patterning is happening in both cases and I get into that in “The Why” article.

The way forward is going to be a shift in business model. Many practitioners offer package deals. This can be helpful. Others may offer subscription plans or something similar. If you’re interested in treatment or already involved, talk to your practitioner about possible ways to incorporate more frequency. Currently, at this practice, we are always looking for ways to increase accessibility so send us a message if you’re interested and we’ll let you know what we currently have.

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