Ballpark Estimate: $50 and $120 per visit
Perhaps you’re seeking relief from chronic pain or other health problems and modern medicine doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Then you might want to consider trying acupuncture. This is an ancient Chinese practice that uses thin needles to active pressure points in your body. While the thought of being stuck with needles could make you feel uneasy, though, the good news is that this form of treatment is considered a safe and effective method to address a number of conditions and keep your body functioning at its very best.
A Popular Technique
Acupuncture has been in existence for over 5,000 years and is currently one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine used today. The technique is based on the idea that energy runs through the body in different pathways to feed your tissues and organs. However, sometimes a blockage can form, which can result in illness or pain. That’s where acupuncture can make a difference. The insertion of the needles is said to activate the nervous system, which in turn releases chemicals that can help balance different body functions. This also helps to stimulate a person’s ability to heal from different injuries and illnesses, and works preventatively to head off the onset of other mental and physical health conditions.
Endorsed by the Experts
Many experts consider acupuncture to be a safe and also highly effective treatment method. For instance, the World Health Organization endorses this as an acceptable approach to address numerous emotional and physical ailments. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that it works well in conjunction with more traditional medical approaches to treat headaches, back pain, asthma, menstrual cramps and fibromyalgia, among other thing. NIH also recommends it to counteract nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and dental procedures. In addition, other research efforts suggest using to counteract infertility, overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, kick addictions to nicotine, alcohol and other drugs, and even to help you lose weight effectively.
What to Expect
While you may be intrigued by the idea of all of the benefits you can get from this technique, when you visit an acupuncturist for the first time, you may also be worried about exactly what to expect.
Generally, the first visit will be longer, lasting up to about two hours, while follow up appointments are generally an hour or less. Initially, you can assume the practitioner will ask you lots of questions about what brings you there and what you hope to get from the sessions. This information will be essential in helping the acupuncturist to gear your visits to your specific needs and situation.
It may also interest you to know that some people say you don’t even have to believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture in order for it to have positive results. In fact, this method even works on animals who don’t understand the process and on people who are skeptical about whether the method will work. You also don’t have to wait until you have some type of illness in order to try acupuncture. You can also use it preventatively.
During the acupuncture treatment itself, some patients report feeling a brief numbness or slightly tingling sensation, but it usually isn’t painful. Sometimes the needles are also heated to intensify the experience. (Keep in mind that the needles used are either sterilized or disposable, so there should be no risk of infection from the procedure.)
Most people don’t have any side effects from acupuncture. That being said, though, some people do find that their symptoms temporarily worsen or they experience changes in their body functioning (such as increased appetite or deep sense of relaxation).
Finally, it’s important to know that in addition to using the acupuncture treatment, some practitioners may also recommend that you take vitamin supplements, herbal remedies or eat a special diet in order to get the best results. Always check with your medical doctor to make sure this is a safe and appropriate choice for your current health status.
How to Find a Provider
You can find providers of acupuncture treatment in most cities and town across the United States today. You can ask your doctor if he or she can recommend someone, or you can do a search online to find a practice in your area. In addition, many medical doctors are broadening out their services to offer this technique themselves in addition to their more mainstream treatments. You can also look for a list of acupuncturist clinics in Acupuncture Today magazine or use an online directory available through Acufinder. Other well-respected resources to try include the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture and the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance.
Just remember that it’s important to make sure that anyone you use has proper credentials to perform these services. To this end, you should know that many, but not all, states require practitioners to be licensed in this technique. To find out the laws in your state, you can refer to the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance’s website.
What It Costs
If you wonder how much you can expect to spend on acupuncture, a lot depends on what you need and how often you’ll plan to go for treatments. Generally, the first visit costs the most, and can be in the range of $100 to $125, although some practitioners may charge a little more or a little less. Follow up appointments range from $50 to $100 per visit, again with higher and lower cost options available.
You should also keep in mind that services provided through wellness clinics are generally more affordable, while medical doctors who perform such services will likely be on the higher end of the cost spectrum.
And while the amount of visits you need can vary from person to person, depending on your specific situation and your goals, it may help you to know that the course of treatment for many conditions using acupuncture will average between four and six to begin with. (However, if this isn’t enough for the results you seek, you may need to continue beyond this initial period.)
Some acupuncturists will also offer a package deal if you pre-pay for multiple treatments, or a discounted rate for a certain number of visits. This is often the case for smoking cessation and weight loss treatments.
When weighing the cost of acupuncture, remember that while it does require an investment, in return you may feel much better and also may find your other medical costs reduced quite a bit.
Finally, you can check with your health insurance provider to see if acupuncture is a covered benefit under your plan. Many insurance plans do now include this.
An Important Tip
It’s also worth noting that some acupuncturists practice in a spa setting. In such a case, they often expect to be tipped. This means that you should expect to add a gratuity of between 15 and 20 percent on top of the session cost. However, practitioners in a more traditional or medical setting generally do not accept tips.