Many people often turn to alternative medicine when traditional treatments don’t work as expected or become too costly to use. Alternative approaches like acupuncture and massage therapy have proven to help to relieve symptoms.
In a 2007 survey, 3.1 million adults reported using acupuncture in the previous 12 months, up from 2.1 million in a 2002 survey, according to the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.
Proponents say that acupuncture, in addition to helping treat existing conditions, can also help prevent problems from occurring in the first place. Some devotees of acupuncture even say they believe treatments keep them healthy and out of the doctor’s office, potentially saving them money.
Acupuncture is therapeutic method of treating ailments and illnesses by stimulating the body’s own ability to heal itself. It’s a natural, holistic approach to wellness that is often used in conjunction with other therapies and treatments.
Acupuncture is one of the most popular alternative medications for different conditions. You can find relief from pain-related problems on the back, shoulder, knees, and other body parts. Even cancer survivors see the acupuncturist. They look for treatment to relieve their pain and control their nausea after bouts of chemotherapy.
Acupuncture offers many benefits and treats far too many conditions to list. Some of the most common applications include:
- Reducing chronic and acute pain and inflammation
- Managing all manner of inflammatory conditions
- Relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and anxiety and mood disorders
- Stopping insomnia and promoting restorative sleep
- Addressing chronic and acute headaches (including migraines), neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain
- Lessening asthma and allergic conditions
- Easing digestive discomfort and disorders
- Reducing symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle, menopause, and hormone imbalances
- Remedying the effects of musculoskeletal problems
- Boosting immune function and accelerating healing after injury or surgery
- Increasing the efficacy and limiting the side effects of other treatments
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that function as natural painkillers and provide other regulatory effects throughout the body. It also increases blood circulation and oxygenation, relaxes the body’s inflammatory response, helps regulate the immune system’s white blood cells, and has a stabilizing influence on blood pressure and glucose levels. Still, we’ve just scratched the surface of understanding all that goes on in the body during and after acupuncture therapy.
An acupuncture session in a clinic like Audubon, PA starts with a topical antimicrobial agent applied to your skin and sterile, disposable needles are inserted into acupoints around your body. The needles are thinner than those used for injections, typically between 0.006 and 0.018 inches in diameter. Needles of varying length are used in different locations; the depth of insertion, how long needles are left in place, and how they are manipulated vary.
Should You Try Acupuncture?
Although its basic techniques are straightforward, acupuncture is a highly personalized therapy. Your practitioner will discuss your symptoms and lifestyle, how you feel over the course of the day, how you respond to stressors, and other areas that help her arrive at diagnoses and develop treatment plans. The course of therapy is different for each person. Many people experience improvement with a single session. Many people swear by this treatment. Most people detect only a brief, minor prick upon insertion.
For most people, money is a consideration. Sessions with an acupuncturist run about $65 to $120, depending on where you live (and some leading acupuncturists charge as much as $300). Most ailments require at least three treatments, while some chronic issues like arthritis might require biweekly or monthly sessions, depending on the situation.
If you want to try acupuncture, but are concerned about the cost, here are some suggestions:
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE: Call your insurer and ask whether your policy covers acupuncture. If it does, press for details.
Find out how many sessions a year it allows and whether a doctor’s prescription is needed. Check whether it allows coverage for only certain conditions. Some policies, for instance, might cover acupuncture only for chronic pain.
TRY A SCHOOL: If you must pay yourself, consider discount treatment by an acupuncturist-in-training. Most acupuncture schools have clinics where you can be treated by supervised students at discounted rates of $40 or so for one to two hours. To find a school, go to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Web site.
Research this alternative treatment and discuss it with your doctor to make sure you’re safe to undergo the procedure. You may also go for an initial consultation in an acupuncture clinic to ask questions about the process. This way, you can explore different options for your condition, and decide if you’d like to continue.