Can Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Provide Long-Lasting Effects?

A question I have been asked frequently is, “Can acupuncture REALLY cure my condition?” People want to know if the effects that they receive through treatment will be permanent or are they only temporary for the time they are undergoing treatment. I can say with a great amount of certainty that most conditions can be managed and / or alleviated through treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicines. Please do not interpret this statement to mean that this is a miracle cure for any and all conditions. The success of treatment through Traditional Oriental Medicine (TCM) is contingent on certain variable factors. Chief amongst these factors are: the patient’s compliance with the directions of the practitioner; the experience of the practitioner in treating that specific condition; and the length of time the patient has been suffering from this condition.

Compliance is probably the most telling factor in treatment with TCM. The results of treatment may not be readily apparent in the short term. In order to receive significant and lasting results from treatments, the patient may need to undergo a longer course of care for certain conditions. This is not to say that there are not the “miracle cure” cases where a patient gets a marked and immediate improvement from a single treatment. However, the bulk of patients require more than a few treatments to reach this point. Also, the patient must comply with the practitioner’s instructions. If the patient is told they need to receive two treatments a week for the initial two weeks and / or must take an herbal prescription, and they choose not to follow this prescribed course, their improvement will most likely be delayed

A practitioner’s experience in treating a specific condition can play a part in the rate and amount of improvement a patient will see over a course of treatment. By experience I am referring to not only the length of time they have been in practice but also the repertoire of acupuncture styles and techniques they have available to them. An acupuncturist may have been in practice for well over 10-15 years but have been using only the one or two styles they originally learned in their schooling. A younger practitioner, only having practiced for 3-5 years, may have learned a wider variety of diagnostic and treatment techniques. The amount and type of continuing education a practitioner elects to study will also determine their arsenal of methods to place at your disposal.

People come to practitioners of TCM all the time and say, “This was my last resort. I have tried everything else and nothing has worked.” While any true and dedicated practitioner will welcome the challenge of being able to provide you with relief, the earlier in the course of your condition you seek treatment, the faster your results will become apparent. The longer your body has been suffering from a condition, the more your systems will come to view it as “normal” for you to be that way. Once your body accepts your condition as normal, it becomes very hard to coax it away from that norm. The body wants to be stable, even if that stable point is not an optimal health condition. I like to use the example of a rusty bolt. The longer you let it sit rusted, the more elbow grease it is going to take to loosen the nut off of that bolt.

The main thing to remember about TCM and the results that you are hoping to see is that when you go to see an acupuncturist you have chosen to correct your body’s imbalance rather than mask your symptoms. Re-achieving this balance may not be a rapid process, but it is possible. Your results will become more and more permanent as you continue to undergo treatment and your body once again recognizes being healthy as it’s normal state. Nothing good comes easy and nothing permanent comes quick. Obviously, identical conditions in different individuals will have different success rates and different conditions in a single patient will show varied results. Not every practitioner is adept at treating every type of condition, but please, for your own health’s sake, do not give up just because you did not leap out of the office dancing and singing the very first time you went in for treatment. Give it some time and your body will thank you.

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