It depends. Some patients may feel improvement after one session however most patients feel an effect from acupuncture within 2-3 treatments. The pace of improvements is specific to their condition and can also include a reduction in pain, an increase in energy, better quality of sleep or an improvement in digestion. If the condition is acute, it will usually resolve in fewer treatments (~4-8 treatments) while chronic conditions may take longer.
Since every individual and their circumstance are unique, predicting the exact number of sessions needed is often impossible. How your condition responds depends on how long you have had it and whether you may be contributing to it through certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, lack of sleep, or eating unhealthy foods that promote inflammation. A general rule of thumb is that it takes about a month of treatment for every year that one has had the condition.
In our experience, most patients need 8-10 acupuncture sessions before we can properly evaluate how their condition is responding to treatment. Sometimes a patient will find relief after one treatment. Most times patients notice an effect that will last for a few days and then slowly return. Other times they notice an increase in discomfort followed by a significant decrease in symptoms.
With continued treatment and herbal therapies, effects can become long lasting. Many patients choose to continue care even after their condition is addressed, because they experience benefits in other areas such as improved sleep, better digestion, or increased energy. Acupuncture is also a wonderful tool for relaxation and stress reduction.