How do I know if my acupuncture treatment is working?

So, how will you know if or when your acupuncture treatments are actually working? Good question; glad you asked. This is a question we hear in the treatment room quite often: “What should I expect to notice or pay attention to?”

For many people, acupuncture is a new experience, and as with most new experiences, it can be hard to know what to expect. The most important thing to know while receiving acupuncture treatments is that progress can be slow; but rest assured progress is happening.

Here is a list of just some of the things to expect while receiving acupuncture, whether intended or not.

1. Your pain will change

The key word here is change: change in location, severity, or intensity. That change is what we are looking to accomplish every time you come in for treatment. This gives your acupuncturist and you a way to record your progress and see when and if the treatments are accomplishing their goal. It isn’t uncommon for pain to be relieved for a few hours after your treatment, only to return. Continued treatments will make that pain-free window longer and longer. It also isn’t impossible to experience a “healing crisis” during acupuncture treatments, which is to say your pain got better progressively over time and now has either plateaued or gotten worse in the short term. Although it may not seem like it, these are all good signs! Any change in your symptoms at all are indications things are on the way to improvement.

2. Your sleep could improve (or change)

For most people, the night after your first acupuncture treatment could be the best night’s sleep you’ve had in a long time, and for others it could mean you didn’t get to sleep in as long as you wanted. Your body is on a biological clock and regulates itself based on a lot of different factors (artificial vs natural light, seasons, etc.). Sleeping better is one of the best “side effects” of acupuncture, but it’s not a guarantee for everyone.

3. Your mood will improve

Really? Yes, acupuncture and Chinese Medicine consider the mind and body to be one whole unit. It is very common to store emotional stress in muscles (think office worker with tight shoulders and a bad boss); relaxing the muscles allows our body to effectively process that stuck energy and eliminate it. People who get acupuncture for the first time often experience an “acu buzz” after their first treatment. Biologically, this is the brain releasing dopamine and serotonin.

4. You’ll be more aware of your body

Acupuncture is a whole-body tune up. Do you take your car in to get the oil changed every 3,000 miles? Well, you should treat your body the same. When you first start doing acupuncture you’ll notice bodily sensations more acutely, that is to say, you will be more aware of the little things you didn’t notice before and more clued in to how your body is functioning overall. Your senses will be keener and more awakened.

5. You’ll have more energy

Finally, but definitely not last, after beginning acupuncture treatment you can start to notice having more energy. Did you forget your morning coffee, but realize you didn’t really need it today? That is thanks in part to acupuncture’s ability to rev up the adrenal system, and overall help the bodily functions perform at their best. Just by poking a tiny needle into the top layer of the skin, acupuncture is able to jump-start the body’s energy to repair a little faster, go a little longer.

The human body is an amazing thing, and when given the proper tools (diet, exercise, etc.), it is able to function at its best. Acupuncture doesn’t change the way your body performs, it just helps to enhance the body’s many control systems that allow the body to heal itself naturally.