This is a tough one to answer, because the answer depends on a variety of factors. Generally, acupuncture is a process. In other words, unlike treatments that numb or mask the body’s illness, acupuncture reintegrates and resolves; this can take time.
It’s also not always immediately comfortable. For example, if a patient comes for knee pain, she may notice that her knee has improved after one treatment, but that her ankle now hurts. This happens sometimes, and it’s typically good news. It means that the obstruction or pathology that’s blocking the channel and causing the pain has been moved, and is traveling down the channel to its exit point. Subsequent treatments generally encourage the process and resolve the issue.
Sometimes people come in with something that’s been plaguing them – typically pain of some sort– and it is gone by the end of the treatment or the next day, never to return. These are great fun, and I enjoy them… but they’re not the norm. Usually the body needs time to figure itself out and get a new, healthier pattern working.
The length of time you’ll need to start feeling better also depends upon the focus of the treatment. If we’re working on shoulder pain that you’ve had since you broke your collarbone 39 years ago, it may take a little longer than treating a week’s worth of constipation.
Typically I expect some sort of change during or after the first couple of treatments, but not a full recovery. Most people’s situations improve incrementally, and by the third treatment they are more fully aware of their progress.
Generally people come 4-6 times for their initially troubling issue, and then come regularly for other things. But that’s just a ballpark figure in an attempt to answer the question; within that estimate is always the element of unknown potential. Sometimes the body responds with such swiftness and grace that it almost seems magical.