This question has a complicated answer due to the several levels of response to acupuncture. The easy answer is that we want you to leave after the first treatment realizing that acupuncture can help your body heal. The complexity starts when trying to answer the question of how many treatments you will need to obtain long lasting results and if there will be a need for maintenance therapy.
The simplistic response is, the longer the condition has affected you, the more time it will take to treat it. Then again, since we want to treat the root of the problem, as well as the symptoms, this adds another layer of complexity. As an example, perhaps you recently developed generalized joint pain. Therefore, since it recently started it will be easy to treat? May be! Only if the source of, let’s call it inflammation, has recently started then yes. Unfortunately the root of the problem sometimes has been there for a much longer time. Take the example of diabetes. According to this article by the American diabetes association, the onset of non-insulin dependent diabetes occurs on average 4 to 7 years before the actual diagnosis is made.
But, to be practical, we want to see progressive changes in the first 5 sessions. If there are no changes during this time, then this mode of therapy is unlikely to yield long term results with continuous treatment by us.