How many sessions is enough?

I am often asked how many sessions one might need.

As a general rule, I would say 4 treatments for every year you have had the condition. But this is often difficult to assess because sometimes we are often not aware something is wrong until we feel pain or something isn’t right. For instance, atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries), heart disease, or even diabetes, aren’t apparent until something is drastically wrong. Equally, Transient Ischemic Attacks (a.k.a. TIA, or mini-stroke) can quite often occur in one’s sleep, so we might not realize the extent of the damage until there is a major stroke! But the clues are always there, perhaps years before the fateful day! For example, shortness of breath on exertion, lethargy, palpitations, disturbed sleep, frequent urination, can all be signs of something unpleasant building up over many years.

Nothing happens in isolation

In Chinese Medicine we look for signs and symptoms of disease before it becomes as serious as a heart attack or a stroke. That’s why I ask questions about your bowel movements and sleep patterns. I need to find out where your energies may be stagnating or depleted and put together an appropriate treatment: What channels do I work on? What muscle groups or joints are affected? What organs are under strain and in need of nourishment?

Sticking with atherosclerosis as an example, as the arteries harden, we don’t hear them crystallizing and straining, or even feel it, but you may be feeling lethargic or breathless on exertion – these are the signs and symptoms of things to come…perhaps… but they are years in the making. That pain in the back, for instance, could have taken years to develop, so it’s probably not going to go away over night. Or someone who has been depressed for 20 years may need some time to feel on an even keel again.

So how many sessions might one need?

A good place to start is to commit to 10 sessions. You might not need this many, but it enables us to assess how you are doing and if you are improving. Of course, you might feel better after just a few sessions, but it depends on the individual.

How often should treatments be?

More often than not sessions are weekly, but sometimes more frequent treatment is needed. For example, if after a session you are pain free for a few days before the pain returns, this could be an indicator that treatment should be every few days to start with.

Unfortunately, as humans we have remarkably short memories when it comes to pain! It is very easy for work and life in general to once again take precedence over our health – and ironically it is something within this puzzle of life that is causing the imbalance/pain/illness. This might be related to posture, our emotions (anger/frustration/resentment), diet, and increasingly these days, endurance sports. Or simply too much work and not enough rest. Many times I have treated a client for lower back pain who then informs me they are going to the gym straight after the session!

Chinese Medicine can sometimes have dramatic affects in just one session, but more often than not, it is quite subtle and can take a little time and patience. The acupuncturist Jane Lyttleton offers a great analogy, of how a round table falls ill and develops sharp corners. The table sees a specialist in sharp corners, who says, ‘No problem, we’ll have you round again!’. The operation was performed the next day, and the surgeon cut the corners off with a saw. It was a painful procedure but was over and done with rapidly and efficiently. Unfortunately, he cut a little too close on the fourth corner and the table lost part of one of its legs. The table, however, no longer had sharp corners. But what if the table had gone to see the Chinese doctor instead? After enquiring how this might have come about and thoroughly feeling the table’s corners, top and legs, he would pull out a small file, apply it to one corner and begin to file. He would file and file. And even though it might be tedious and require a lot of patience on the part of both the table and the doctor, and it might take up to one year before the table would be truly its old round self again, eventually it would be beautifully smooth and strong and perfectly round again.

If you would like to know if Acupuncture or Tui Na could help you, please do get in touch.


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