It depends on how you are applying distal acupuncture. I use distal acupuncture almost exclusively. One very important thing you need to remember is that when a patient comes to you with pain, their proprioceptive pathway is not firing strongly enough to get the body to release enkephalin (which is why their pain never goes away). Because this proprioceptive signal is not strong enough, they will often feel the pain in a much greater area than is actually the true problem. I find that with subsequent acupuncture visits, it is often important for you to be more diligent with how you are selecting your distal points to make sure you are in fact getting the area that was affected in the first place. A good example of this is hip pain. Very often people come in and there whole hip hurts (gluteus maximus, medius, minimus, piriformis, etc.). So you use a few points that affect the proprioceptive pathway and their pain diminishes. The next visit, pay very close attention, because the patient's pain will likely be a little more specific. Not a whole area but probably more localized. This means you need to more closely mirror that area with your distal points. It is also very important to make sure you are getting an immediate change in the pain. If you just put in the same points as the last time and don't assess the pain, you won't realize that you didn't actually affect the right area.
Also, be very diligent about which channel it is that you are treating. This is more important than thinking of kidney deficiency. Know which muscles are "serviced" by which channels. A great guide for this is Donald Kendall's book the Dao of Chinese Medicine. It includes which muscles belong to which channels. One common mistake made by people is that the deep muscles of the back and neck are actually part of the kidney channel, not the bladder channel. This is why Lingku and Da Bai work so well for lower back pain (LI treats Kid). Also, don't be afraid to add needles where appropriate and get some stimulation. I have very commonly used 3-4 needles in the Si3-4 area to take away a person's pain.