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Considering Acupuncture? What to Know About Measuring Improvement

How to know if your acupuncture treatments are helping?
Gauging acupuncture progress

Acupuncture has been used for almost 3,000 years in
China and was introduced to Western Medicine in the 1600s. A reported 3 million plus American adults have already incorporated acupuncture into their wellness regimen, but if you are new to the treatment you’re likely unsure what to expect, or how quickly you should expect to see results. While some effects are immediate and profound, the general effect is often more gradual and subtle, making it hard for new patients to gauge its impact, particularly if a condition has existed for a prolonged period or is severe.  

Acupuncture can be used to treat conditions with significant symptoms as well as functional disorders that are undetectable through traditional testing, but which you are aware of through fatigue and a sense of being out of sorts.  In restoring Qi to a state of balance it can also help to support and strengthen the immune system, effectively preventing future illness. To fully assess the effect of your treatment, keep in mind that your experience will be dependent upon what you are being treated for, and be mindful of the pertinent benchmarks.  

Gauging Acupuncture’s Impact on Pain

One of the top reasons that people turn to acupuncture is for relief from chronic and acute pain. While Western medicine’s answer is often to dull pain thru medication, acupuncture approaches the issue as a problem with the circulation of the blood and the Qi as a result of stagnation, internal cold or heat, and dampness or wind. Its goal is to free flow, and each session builds foundationally and steadily to relief. While we want complete relief immediately, acupuncture lends itself to patience and persistence.  

Patients seeking pain relief can gauge their progress by more nuanced measures, including: 

  • Whether they find themselves taking a lower dose of their pain medication or taking their medication less frequently. 
  • Whether the painful area seems smaller or less intense, or painful episodes occurring less frequently. 
  • Whether they are able to do things without pain that they previously couldn’t do, or continue an activity longer. 

 Patients seeking pain relief often report disappointment in having their pain return after a period of relief. This is common, especially for pain that has been building over a period of time. Pain patients generally benefit from more frequent appointments when they first begin, then scaling back the frequency once stability has been achieved. 

Gauging Acupuncture’s Impact on Chronic Conditions 

Acupuncture has proven helpful for the treatment of chronic conditions including headaches and migraines, premenstrual syndrome, hot flashes and digestive disorders. These specific conditions (and many others) present intermittently as outbreaks or flares, or in the case of reproductive conditions, in response to the body’s monthly cycle. Your symptoms or condition will not disappear overnight, but you can expect them to improve over time. Assessing your progress will depend upon the specific condition you are being treated for, but can be gauged by tracking the following elements and instances of your symptoms. 

  • How often your symptoms or flares occur. As you receive more treatments the time between episodes should expand and the number of episodes should decrease. 
  • How much discomfort your symptoms cause. With more treatments your pain and the intensity of your symptoms should diminish. 
  • How long each occurrence lasts. Improvement can be confirmed by duration of flares or relapses growing shorter. 
  • How quickly you recover from an occurrence. Many patients turn to acupuncture because their disease leaves them so drained and unable to experience a sense of good health or normalcy. Acupuncture treatment effectiveness can be measured by whether you are able to return to feeling good in a shorter period of time than was previously true. 

Assessing Acupuncture’s Impact on Wellbeing 

Beyond its ability to mitigate physical conditions and illness, acupuncture has a well-deserved and scientifically supported reputation for providing relief from stress and anxiety. When your world feels like a roller coaster for your emotions it can be difficult to tell when things are getting better, but there are distinct signs that you can look to for affirmation that your treatment is working. 

  • You should start to sleep better. If you were previously having a hard time falling asleep or found yourself waking up in the middle of the night, repeated acupuncture treatments should provide you with a better night of quality sleep, consistently. 
  • Your world may feel a bit more enjoyable and bright. Many people report that stress and anxiety seem to deaden or dull their senses, and the return of a healthy Qi flow will revitalize your senses. 
  • You will feel more energetic. Acupuncture stimulates the body’s flow to all of its meridians, and this can reanimate the mind and body. 

Treating Complex Conditions at Empirical Point Acupuncture 

Traditional Chinese Medicine has proven to be remarkably effective in the treatment of complex conditions and multiple chronic conditions. Sharon Sherman has been licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental Medicine since 2001 and holds the highest credential available from both the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Her knowledge and understanding of complex conditions in conjunction with the medicine’s effectiveness assures patients of the highest level of care and professionalism 

Empirical Point Acupuncture

40 W. Evergreen Ave, Suite 112
Philadelphia, PA, 19118

Proudly serving the Philadelphia Community since 2001.
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