Find an Acupuncturist

How to Find an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture can treat a wide variety of conditions from pain, all the way to depression, anxiety and much more.  Acupuncture is a minimal risk procedure, is painless and comes with a host of benefits for the mind and body. As a whole, it has proven itself as a worthy treatment modality within the world of medicine here in the United States. Before choosing an acupuncture provider, be sure to consider these important tips and recommendations.

Your Condition & Acupuncture

            Before even calling around for an acupuncturist, it is important that you determine what it is that you will be going in for, why, and your goals for the treatment. Conveying this information to your acupuncturist will not only help to determine a treatment plan, but it will help determine an individualized treatment plan suited for your unique needs via traditional Chinese medicine practices (TCM).

Find a Licensed Acupuncturist Near You

            Next, it is important to ask or seek out your potential acupuncturist credentials as far as their training, experience, and specific expertise in treating your condition.  It is essential that you find a licensed acupuncturist per your state guidelines.

Currently the only states without licensing requirements are:

  • Alabama

  • Kansas

  • North Dakota

  • Oklahoma

  • South Dakota

  • Wyoming

If you happen to reside in one of these states and would like to seek acupuncture for treatment of your condition, you will want to find an acupuncturist that is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (Dipl. O.M.) or Diplomate of Acupuncture (Dipl Ac.).

Common designations of an acupuncturist include the following:

  • L.Ac – most common designation

  • AP – used in Florida, standing for Acupuncture Physician

  • D.Ac – used in Hawaii, standing for Doctor of Acupuncture

  • D.Acu – used in Rhode Island, standing for Doctor of Acupuncture

  • R.Ac or Reg. Ac. – used by Pennsylvania and Colorado, standing for Registered Acupuncturist

Certification with NCCAOM is based upon the acupuncturist completing an approved educational program which is certified by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) as the accredited acupuncture schools and programs and are accepted by the United States Department of Education.

Additionally, certification through NCCAOM is contingent upon completion of the Clean Needle Technique course, and taking & passing certification exams. To take the exam with NCCAOM it is required to have completed three to four years of master’s-level education from an accredited program. You can find a full list of requirements for your state here.

In addition to all of these requirements, many states also require that if your acupuncturist offers herbal remedies that they have a certification in Chinese Herbology and Oriental Medicine in order to prescribe herbs.

Acupuncture Insurance

It would also be beneficial to know if your insurance carrier covers the treatment. While there are some policies that do indeed cover acupuncture, there are many that do not. Finding this out prior to calling around will allow you to be able to know exactly what you are talking about when you pick up the phone.

If your insurance does cover treatment you are then able to tell your acupuncture office this, and if not, then you will know to ask about fees per session right out of the gate. Fees for acupuncture treatment can vary depending on if it is community style or an individual provider.  Expect to pay anywhere from $60-$175 per session.  Depending on where you live or the specialty type of the acupuncturist, this cost may be higher.

Your First Acupuncture Visit – What to Expect

            Now that we know what types of credentials to look for in a potential acupuncturist, next we can look at what your acupuncture session may entail. While acupuncture is the main modality in most acupuncture offices, there are also wide varieties of treatment options within an acupuncture practice. 

The following are things that could potentially be used and/or offered for treatment of your condition in an acupuncture office:

  • Electroacupuncture – similar to acupuncture, but in this form, instead of one hair-thin needle, there are two used. A mild electric current is passed between the needles allowing for more stimulation to the acupuncture points used for your condition.

  • Moxibustion – a form of heat therapy where dried plants called “moxa” are burned on or near the meridians and acupuncture points. Essentially, another means of stimulating the acupuncture points.

  • Acupressure – basically, this is acupuncture without the needles. Instead of needles, this involves applying manual pressure on the acupuncture points.

  • Cupping – involves placing clear cups on the skin creating a suction allowing for healing by generating better blood flow. It can relieve muscle tension which can also aid blood flow and promote cell repair.

  • Gua sha – scraping the skin with a smooth-edged tool usually made of jade to improve circulation. This is very helpful in the treatment of chronic pain. It is intended to address stagnant qi (energy) in the body responsible for inflammation.

  • Exercise/nutrition counseling – guidance on good eating and exercise habits to improve your condition.

  • Chinese herbal formulas/supplements – these are usually groups of both common and traditional Chinese herbs formed together by your acupuncturist (properly certified in Chinese Herbology, of course) in groups of 5 or more to create an individualized all natural “prescription” for you. Your acupuncturist may also recommend a Chinese herbal supplement which is also made up of many herbs. This aspect of treatment within an acupuncture office is so helpful because, like in western medicine, it gives you a way to continue treatment of your condition at home. Instead of taking prescription drugs, Chinese herbs are all-natural and all-beneficial.

Always be sure to make your acupuncturist aware of any current medications you may be taking.

Licensed Acupuncture Providers vs. Other Medical Professionals

            Finding an acupuncturist who is properly licensed, and equipped with plenty of the knowledge necessary for acupuncture treatment is ultimately what needs to be found in your search. Choosing an acupuncturist is similar to looking for any other healthcare provider.

You wouldn’t want to go to a general practitioner who doesn’t have a considerable amount of training/experience right?

Picking your acupuncturist should be no different.  When all is said and done, make sure your acupuncturist is licensed with the state and/or the NCCAOM, and visit an acupuncturist who has experience treating your condition.

Find an Acupuncturist
Find an Acupuncturist

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