Ask the Acupuncturist
Acupuncture in St Joseph, MO
Licensed acupuncturist and Chinese medicine provider Jeff Rippey, L.Ac in St Joseph, Missouri answers your questions about acupuncture for pain management.
Why are you one of the top acupuncture providers in St Joseph, MO?
I’m the only board certified, state licensed acupuncturist in St Joseph. Aside from that, my road to becoming a practitioner of Chinese medicine was a little different from most.
I was an apprentice for 12 years, studied for 2 years in China, completed a 3 year US based master’s program and am currently finishing my doctorate in acupuncture. In terms of hours of study and experience, I’m well beyond the average provider.
On top of this, I have extensive experience with the conventional medical system. I was a pharmacy technician for 10 years, worked for 8 years designing, developing, testing and installing hospital software systems and worked for 8 years at UnitedHealth group.
My entire working life has been in the healthcare industry in some form or fashion and I understand it from multiple different perspectives.
How long have you been practicing acupuncture in St Joseph, MO?
I’ve been practicing in St Joe for just under a year. My professional practice of Chinese medicine started in CO where I practiced just over a year. Then I relocated to the Kansas City area and have practiced there for a year and a half. I added St Joe as an office location in December 2018.
What is acupuncture exactly?
Acupuncture is the insertion, manipulation and removal of very fine, solid needles at particular points on the body in order to address a health concern.
People who are licensed acupuncturists usually have a variety of methods at their disposal, though.
Treatment can consist of cupping, guasha (scraping), tuina (massage) and moxibustion (burning of an herb via a variety of methods) along with the more traditional use of needles.
I practice a more integrative form of medicine and like to use conventional labs and imaging to support my diagnoses and track patient progress.
How does acupuncture work?
This is a very complicated question. To fully answer it, we’d need to discuss: holograms, fractals, physics, anatomy & physiology, cell biology, embryology, the structure & function of connective tissues and biological information theory. Since we don’t really have space here for all that, the how, from a biochemical perspective, often depends on what we’re treating.
Does acupuncture work?
Yes, acupuncture has excellent evidence of effectiveness in a wide variety of conditions. Too many to list here. Some of the best evidence is currently around issues like pain (any type of pain, anywhere on the body, for any reason), infertility, gastrointestinal issues, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure and allergies.
Is acupuncture safe for pain management?
In the hands of a board certified, licensed acupuncturist, yes, very safe. Acupuncture has a very low risk and adverse event profile, particularly when compared to the drugs typically utilized in a pain management setting.
What kind of benefits would I get from acupuncture treatments for pain?
Acupuncture in pain management has several advantages over conventional treatments. Compared to drug therapy, acupuncture has zero risk of addiction. Also compared to drug therapy, acupuncture has a very low side-effect/adverse event profile.
Acupuncture treatments are cumulative and, at a certain point, usually don’t require frequent appointments. A typical patient might come in weekly for 4-6 weeks and then might not require treatment for several months making acupuncture much more cost effective, even on a cash basis.
Pain, particularly chronic pain, is often associated with other issues like depression or anxiety. In a conventional setting, these ‘secondary’ issues are often managed with other drugs (which have their own set of risks) and sometimes require another provider or specialist.
Acupuncture can address these issues as well, again without the need for pharmaceuticals. This lowers costs, saves patient travel time and reduces patient exposure to the side-effects/adverse events associated with pharmaceutical use.
How many acupuncture treatments do I need to get results for pain?
The number of treatments necessary depends on how long the person has been experiencing pain. For acute conditions (3 months or less), typically somewhere between 3 and 5. For chronic pain (more than 3 months), folks are usually looking at 5-7 treatments. My personal sweet spot for most pain conditions tends to be around 4 treatments spaced one week apart.
What do I need to know when choosing an acupuncture provider in St Joseph, MO?
First off, there’s only one board certified and state licensed acupuncturist in St Joe – and that’s me. There are some chiropractic offices in town that offer the service. Chiropractors can sometimes be excellent providers, the problem is: they don’t carry the same board certification, don’t have the same training and don’t have the same continuing education requirements. There are also a few physical therapists in town that offer dry needling. These folks usually have even less education in the modality than chiropractors.
For the safest, quickest results patients need to make sure that whoever they see is an NCCAOM board certified acupuncturist. These are typically people who have graduated from a school of Chinese medicine with at least a master’s level education, carry a clean needle technique (CNT) certification, sat for and passed at least 3 nationally accredited board examinations and maintain these credentials through continuing education.
Will my insurance cover acupuncture in St Joseph, MO?
Unlikely. My experience with health insurance policies in MO and KS is that they’re about 10 years behind policies in other areas of the country. Most plans do not offer coverage. Missouri and Kansas Medicaid do not offer acupuncture coverage. Medicare does not offer acupuncture coverage. That being said, even at cash rates, acupuncture is often more cost effective over the long run than the alternatives.
What is the cost of acupuncture in St Joseph, MO?
I have two models I’m using in town: private appointment and community style. Private appointments are broken into two pieces: initial intake and follow-up. An initial intake is 90 minutes, includes 30 minutes of treatment time and costs $120. A follow-up visit is 60 minutes, includes 30-40 minutes of treatment time and costs $80. One day a week, though, I’m offering community style acupuncture. These are walk-in only and a 15-20 minute session costs $20.
What do I need to know before I come in for my acupuncture appointment at Jeff Rippey Acupuncture?
A few things. Chinese medicine is a whole-istic system – we’re much more interested in relationships between the various body systems than focusing on just one thing. As a result, we often ask questions which, to us, are related to whatever may be your chief complaint but, to you, may seem completely unrelated.
I practice a style of acupuncture that is usually referred to as ‘distal’. What this means is I’m very unlikely to put needles precisely where you’re experiencing an issue.
The vast majority of the time I place needles between the elbows and hands/knees and feet – which means I need to be able to access these areas; loose clothing is a good choice for appointments as I prefer not to have patients disrobe.
And, compared to other acupuncturists, I do not utilize a lot of needles – most treatments are 4-7; it’s very unusual for me to use more than 10.
Lastly, acupuncture can sometimes result in fatigue or light-headedness. This can be made worse if a patient hasn’t eaten in while. It’s a good idea to have a small meal or light snack either just before or just after treatment.
Jeff Rippey Acupuncture also serves the following nearby cities:
Drive east on highway 36 to St Joseph
Drive east on highway 36 to St Joseph
Drive east on highway 36 to St Joseph
Drive south on highway 59 to St Joseph
Avenue City, MO
Drive south on highway 169 to St Joseph
Drive west on highway 36 to St Joseph