Acupuncture is not a modern treatment even though it has only become widely accepted in the Western world in recent decades. There were American studios on the fringes offering acupuncture treatment decades ago; back when the idea of having someone stick pins into a person’s body was shocking.

These days, people would hardly blink: they’ve heard it all before. Acupuncture isn’t quackery. This ancient Chinese practice has gained acceptance in North America because millions of people believe it has helped them, particularly in coping with chronic or severe pain.

Purpose of Acupuncture

While this is not the only reason to sign up for acupuncture treatments, pain management is the primary motivation. Acupuncture has been a proven drug-free answer to arthritis pain, osteoarthritis, headaches (tension and migraines), and injury-related inflammation.

Women who suffer from ongoing, intense discomfort due to menstruation might book a standing arrangement with a trusted acupuncturist to help them cope with their monthly suffering without taking analgesics or to complement drugs that are not fully effective on their own.

This goes for other individuals suffering from ongoing pain that interferes with their daily lives. Customers have often credited acupuncturists with enabling them to avoid painkillers altogether and even with supporting intense drug rehabilitation, particularly if painkillers are the problem.

What is Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese medicine is concerned with whole-body balance and wellness. This balance of energy is known as a person’s “chi.” Other practices dedicated to promoting balance include homeopathy, naturopathy, massage, and yoga, all of which are considered “alternative medicine.”

An acupuncturist inserts very slender needles into pressure points along a person’s body, apparently without causing pain. In Asian tradition, they restore proper chi but the opinion of many Westerners is that they stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Both perspectives share this in common: that a body responds naturally with resources it already has.

The Government, Insurance, and Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture is a regulated practice in more than half the United States. In these states, practitioners are expected to hold suitable licensing and train with an approved school.

If you are unsure whether your acupuncturist is safe or qualified, check out which states regulate this type of Chinese medicine. If you live in a state which does not regulate acupuncturists, it is still possible to enhance your safety by talking to people who have been to one, visiting review pages, reading about a practice and practitioner, and conducting research. Interview a potential service provider or go to one who has been recommended by your chiropractor or massage therapist.

Don’t assume your insurance provider is unwilling to cover acupuncture treatments. Each agency in every state takes an individual view. You might qualify to have all or some of your treatments covered by insurance if you haven’t exceeded your limit with visits to a massage therapist or naturopath.

Complementary Treatments

You will often find an acupuncturist situated in a complex which also houses a chiropractor’s office, massage therapy, a yoga studio, and other natural health practices or services. The businesses within this complex promote each other and the idea that holistic well-being is achieved by addressing health from various angles, ideally without the use of invasive treatment or drugs.

There is no guarantee that every practitioner within this business complex is equally skilled or legitimate, but there is a good chance the other companies would not risk their good reputations promoting a charlatan. They will distance themselves if another firm’s reputation becomes justly tarnished.

Note, too, that professionals in this industry behave like any other practitioner. Ongoing education is an important part of their job. Successful and skillful individuals seek further education and join organizations which promote accountability and safety.

Are there Risks?

Generally speaking, acupuncture is a low-risk approach to pain management if the person undertaking the task is licensed, skilled, and professional. He will use clean, fresh needles for every client, will not push them too deeply, and will have a clear picture of his client’s health profile before starting a session. This is to ensure he does not trigger a problem like bleeding. Some people are not suitable candidates for acupuncture and should be told so before they start.

A needle pushed too far could puncture an organ and unclean needles could cause infection. There is also the chance that a first-time customer will react badly and that’s no one’s fault: their skin was hypersensitive or a dormant condition suddenly surfaced during treatment. First-aid is applied right away and medical attention is sought. Otherwise, acupuncture is considered one of the safest forms of non-medical, non-invasive, drug-free treatment you can try.