What Should I Do After My Acupuncture Treatment?

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What to expect after acupuncture

If you’ve ever had an acupuncture treatment, you know the calm feeling that comes as you float out of the clinic and into the rest of your day. Waking up from what we like to call your “acu-nap” (a 20-30 minutes of rest after needles are inserted) often feels like you’ve been resting for hours. You will most likely leave your treatment feeling quite relaxed, and often, after about 15-30 minutes, you will feel both grounded and energized. 

The benefits of an acupuncture treatment begin when needles are inserted into the body and continue to occur after you leave the clinic. Acupuncture helps the body move into the parasympathetic nervous system, the system of “rest and digest” as well as the state at which the body can process and heal most effectively

As you leave your acupuncture treatment, the blockages that were stimulated during your treatment will continue to break up and heal. Because of this, you must take good care of yourself after treatment to achieve the best results. 

Acupuncture and Chronic Pain: What to Expect After Your Treatment

Treating chronic pain

At Solis, we specialize in treating chronic pain with acupuncture. Regardless of the chronic pain you are experiencing, there are some things you may expect after your treatments.

You may experience instant relief from your pain after your first few treatments. This could last anywhere from an hour to a week.  The immediate results often depend on three things:

  1. How long you have had the pain
  2. What types of tissues are involved
  3. The severity of the pain

We see many of our chronic pain patients experience full relief, 100% pain-free, for a window of time. You may also experience a reduction in pain. If you were to measure the pain on a scale of 1-10, you might go from an 8 to a 4.  

It is also possible that you will be sorer after treatment for the rest of the day or even the following day. Typically, this is a healing response, not a side effect. Often, once the soreness wears off, you will notice that the pain is less than it was prior to treatment.  If you have any concerns after treatment, be sure to call the office and check-in with your practitioner

Relieving Pain with Acupuncture

Relief after acupuncture

When you get a window of either relief or reduction in pain level, this is a great start!  As you get more acupuncture treatments, these windows tend to get longer.  Ideally, you want to get back in for treatment before the pain is back to the level of severity that it was prior to treatment.  So if your pain level is a 9 and your first acupuncture treatment brings it down to a 4, it may start to creep back up over the course of hours or days.  If you can get in before the pain is back to a 9, then there is a greater chance your second acupuncture treatment will be more successful.  

This pattern is why we often recommend that chronic pain patients get treated once, twice, or even three times a week for the first few weeks of treatment.  That allows you to experience the benefit quickly and allows your practitioner to really get familiar with your case and what treatment protocols work best for your unique system.  This approach sets the course for sustainable benefit.  

Once you are getting sustained results, lasting 1-2 weeks, then you can come in for acupuncture twice a month and eventually cut back to once a month.  Many patients really like this monthly “tune-up” even if their pain doesn’t recur, as it is good preventative medicine.  Monthly “tune-ups” can help maintain a pain-free life with the benefits of reduced inflammation, increased microcirculation, relaxed muscles, and improved joint function and stability. 

So, we’ve talked about what acupuncture does and what you may experience after a treatment. But, what should you do after your appointment? And, maybe more importantly, what shouldn’t you do?

It is important to take care of yourself and your body after an acupuncture treatment and help the body to stay in the parasympathetic state for as long as possible. Here are some tips from our practitioners at Solis:

What to Do After an Acupuncture Treatment:

Yoga workout after acupuncture treatment

If you are going to work out, take it slow.

A workout after treatment shouldn’t be your hardest workout of the day. Don’t do the extra reps or sprints.  Instead, go to a slow yoga class or take a long walk. Help the body to continue to regulate and heal. 

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Drink plenty of water after your treatment. Acupuncture is extremely detoxifying as it works with all of the detoxification organs (skin, liver, kidneys, etc.). So, to help the body continue to detox, drink lots of water. 

Nourish yourself!

If you can, eat a warm soup or meal that can continue to relax the body and create an environment for ease and healing.

Chronic pain patients – some movement is a good thing.

Walking or gentle stretching can help keep circulation going and decrease pain symptoms. 

Track your symptoms and pay attention to what you are feeling.

Possible experiences may be: change in energy, pain levels, sleep patterns, or appetite. This will help your practitioner determine what works best for you and steer your course of treatment effectively. 

What Not to Do After an Acupuncture Treatment:

Avoid hiit workout after acupuncture
  • Avoid consuming or doing anything stimulating (drinking alcohol, coffee, HIIT workouts, etc.). We want to keep the body at a slow and steady pace, and prioritizing this will help you achieve maximum results. 
  • Avoid big temperature changes (hot tubs, cold showers, ice baths, hot yoga, etc.). Big changes in temperature can stimulate the body and constrict/open up the meridians in a way that can impinge on treatment results. 
  • Avoid any stress or strain on the body for the rest of the day if possible. 

The Importance of Follow-up Appointments for Continued Care

When pursuing acupuncture treatment, your best chance of getting optimal results depends on your willingness to be frequent and consistent with your appointments.  If, for instance, you have low back pain due to a slipped disc and have been suffering for over a year, it will take some time to get moderate, sustained relief.  For this kind of issue, we suggest that you commit to treatment twice a week for six weeks, then re-evaluate at that time.  

If you have a severe, acute issue that needs addressing- say, for instance, you have nerve damage in your neck that is causing your fingers to go numb, we suggest three times a week, for 2-3 weeks, for best results.  

Once your symptoms are manageable or fully gone, we suggest you continue treatment. Often, patients will get to a point where they come in once every three weeks to tend to mild pain from sitting at an office desk all week, or they move into prevention mode where, for instance, they come in once a month to prevent their low back from going into spasm.

The good news is that people typically enjoy their time at the treatment table with acupuncture and manual therapies.  All you need to do is make the appointment and show up for your nap!

What to Expect During Follow-up Appointments

For follow-up treatments, your provider will do a brief check-in.  They will want to understand the results of the first treatment and get a sense of what has changed.  Typically, these check-ins only take 5-10 minutes.  Generally, for follow-up visits, your provider will do the same treatment protocol for 5 more treatments.  Then, on your sixth visit, they will do a re-evaluation.  For the re-evaluation, the provider will do a more comprehensive intake, running through a range of motion and muscle testing and palpating to see how tissues are healing.  They may also do a tongue and pulse analysis for internal medical cases at this visit. Follow-up visits are pretty quick, and you will be in and out of the office within 60 minutes.  


If you are looking for a natural way to improve your health, acupuncture may be the right choice for you. To schedule a free consultation and find out more about how acupuncture can help you, please call us at (831) 464-1605 or contact us online. We would be happy to answer any of your questions and help you get started on the path to better health.

Published: May 16, 2022

Updated: May 1, 2023

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Lishanna Emmert, DAOM, L.Ac

Lishanna Emmert, DAOM, L.Ac

Dr. Emmert has been treating chronic pain for 15 years. After obtaining her Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, she went on to do a Doctoral Program through the Henan University In China, then a second Doctoral program in San Jose, CA. Lishanna has done certification programs in functional nutrition, whole food supplements for pain and sports injury, orthopedic acupuncture, and functional herbal medicine.