Acupuncture Treatment Prognosis Guidelines

A common question among patients of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is "How many treatments will I need?". The answer depends greatly on the condition being treated, the relative skill level of practitioner and the overall health of the patient.

In general, a precise prognosis is only possible after a practitioner has seen the patient at least 2-3 times and has followed the response from initial treatments closely. In general, most conditions should respond at least with symptomatic improvement within 3-10 treatments.

Listed below are some general guidelines related to forming a prognosis. To discuss any of this information, please utilize our Chinese Acupuncture Theory forum. For additional theory related resources, see our acupuncture theory resources section.

Organ vs. Meridian Pathology
In general meridian imbalances take less time to treat than deeper organ imbalances.

Interior vs. Exterior Patterns
In general exterior patterns take less time to treat than interior ones. For example, the common cold (external wind-cold) takes less time to treat than the heat in the lung variation of sinusitis.

Qi vs. Blood
It is generally easier to build and/or move Qi than it is to build and/or move Blood. For example, Qi Stagnation will resolve faster than Blood Stagnation.

Deficiency vs. Excess
It is generally easier to drain an excess pathology than to build up a deficiency. Additionally, there are variations within these broad categorizations. For example, a Yang Deficiency may take longer to build than Qi Deficiency. On the deficiency side, Yin Deficiency may take longer to build than Blood Deficiency.

Dampness and Phlegm
Dampness is generally considered easier to treat than Phlegm. They are both, however, slow to move and resolve by their nature and will generally complicate other imbalances.

Lifestyle/Psycho-Emotional Factors
Conditions that have fostered certain states of imbalance (living in a damp environment for example), left unresolved will generally hinder the treatments. On a psycho-emotional level, the continued repression, over expression or over experience of certain emotional states will also make imbalances more difficult to resolve.

Factors related to the Four Stages
The prognosis is worsened depending on the stage of disease ranging from the Wei level, to the Qi level, to the Ying, to the Blood.

Factors related to the Six Stages
The prognosis is worsened depending on the stage of disease ranging from Tai Yang, to Yang Ming, to Shao Yang, to Tai Yin, to Shao Yin, to Jue Yin.