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Acupuncture might seem like an exotic, or even impossible method for treating chronic pain, but this ancient practice has now been accepted as a useful supplementary treatment for issues such as lower back pain, neck pain and even osteoarthritis conditions.
Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is one of the oldest healing practices in the world today. However, it was not recognized by the Western world or regulated in the US until 1971, when journalist James Reston wrote an article in the New York Times describing his experience with it after returning from China. Since then, an increasing number of Americans – and their doctors – have been realizing that acupuncture can be a very useful tool in treating issues such as neck and back pain, headaches, knee pain and osteoarthritis. And, it has shown promise as a complementary therapy used to control symptoms when undergoing treatment for cancer, with many doctors using it as a treatment for pain, nausea, and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.
What is Acupuncture?
So, what exactly is acupuncture? It’s a branch of traditional Chinese medicine that’s over three thousand years older than traditional Western medicine. It works by applying needles, pressure and heat to certain points on the body. Invigorating these points releases or redirects chi – the natural energy of the body – because pain and illness come from imbalances or blockages of this vital life force.
Does Acupuncture Work?
According to the National Institute of Health, there are numerous studies suggesting that acupuncture works particularly well on some types of chronic pain, such as back and neck pain, knee pain, osteoarthritis and headaches, including migraines. It has been known to reduce the incidence and severity of tension headaches, and is concluded to be a reasonable option for people suffering with these types of chronic pain to consider. Another review found that pain relief from acupuncture comes from inactivating the source of pain, which is done by modulating levels of endorphins.
Often, patients will visit the acupuncturist on a regular basis in order to uphold and maintain a feeling of general wellbeing. Acupuncture for pain is often considered to be non-invasive and gentle, despite the fact that it is performed by inserting thin needles into various parts of the body.
How to Find a Good Acupuncturist:
Licensing requirements for acupuncturists tend to vary between states, with some states being more stringent than others. Three trade associations were founded in 1981 in order to set standards of practice for acupuncturists; these include The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). Most states require acupuncturists to be certified by the NCCAOM, and their website has a helpful search tool for finding licensed, accredited acupuncturists in your area, such as this clinic offering acupuncture Beverly Hills – The Clinic for Pain and Anxiety. Here you can get in touch with expert practitioners who will create an individualized treatment plan for you. They are known for providing a high standard of care.
Neither Medicaid or Medicare cover acupuncture, but there are some insurance companies which do. The best step is to call your insurance company and ask about it. If they do cover acupuncture, then be sure to ask some questions, including how many treatments you can get covered, how much the insurance company will pay out, and what the usual co-pay would be for acupuncture. You should also find out whether or not you would need a referral from an MD in order to see an acupuncturist with insurance cover, which conditions are covered, and what percentage you would pay to see an out-of-network practitioner.
How does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncturists insert thin needles into the skin at specific points around your body. However, it’s virtually painless when done by an experienced practitioner. If you’re experiencing new pain, then bear in mind that acupuncture should not be your first stop; experts recommend that before trying this treatment, you have a clear diagnosis on what is causing your pain in order to rule out any serious medical conditions that will need to be treated immediately.
How often will the treatment be needed?
As a general rule of thumb, you should plan for weekly treatments until you start to see results, then gradually increase the amount of time until your next visit.
What is the cost?
Generally, acupuncture treatments will range in cost from around $65 to $125 per session.
Who administers it?
Ideally, you should get acupuncture treatment from a certified, trusted practitioner.
Recent surveys have found that millions of Americans are now turning to acupuncture, and the treatment is becoming more and more widely accepted amongst the medical community. Acupuncture has come a long way since it was first accepted in the Western world in 1971, and its main goal is to activate the body’s own self-healing mechanisms. Many doctors today recommend it as part of a comprehensive approach to solve chronic pain problems.
Are you considering getting acupuncture? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
This article is just a rough guide, and nothing should be taken as medical advice. Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start on any new treatment or protocol.
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