Acupuncture can be very beneficial for a wide range of problems, but when first setting out to try acupuncture there are some very specific things to look for in an acupuncturist. I first tried acupuncture about 5 years ago when I was experiencing pain from ballet classes, and I can attest to its ability to help pain. After several times of seeing the acupuncturist I was definitely in less pain and the knots in my neck were certainly smaller. During the time I was seeing the acupuncturist he was even able to help me with a sinus infection! Acupuncture clearly helped me; yet, before you make your own acupuncture appointment please read about these important things to look for in an acupuncturist.
Similarly to the way doctors are licensed, acupuncturists are licensed by individual states. As part of your check list for things to look for in an acupuncturist, you always want to make sure that they have the designation L.A.C., which stands for licensed acupuncturist. This designation confirms that practitioners have met the requirements for licensing by the state board. For most states this means that the acupuncturist has completed a 3 to 5 year master’s program in oriental medicine from an accredited school and has passed the written and practical state board exam. To find a licensed practitioner in your state you can refer to nccaom.org.
2. Make Sure the Acupuncturist Uses Single Use Disposable Needles
Most, if not all, acupuncturists now use single use disposable needles; however, it is still important to ask your intended acupuncturist if he or she uses disposable needles. You want to be 100% sure that the acupuncturist you are planning to see uses sanitary health safety measures. If an acupuncturist does not dispose of the needles after one use, then you want to stay as far away as possible. The acupuncturists I have seen have not only used single use needles, they also disposed of them in a biohazard waste box that is used for medical needles. When I saw they used these boxes, I found it very reassuring to know that the acupuncture needles were being disposed of and used in a safe and proper manner.
3. Experience Treating Your Specific Problem
Acupuncture can be used for many different problems including, but not limited to, pain, arthritis, digestive disorders, and anxiety. I went to an acupuncturist for muscle pain, and he was very skilled at helping me with that problem. However, if I had a different problem I would want to make sure that the acupuncturist had experience treating whatever my issue was. Don’t be afraid to ask the acupuncturist if he or she has ever successfully treated the problem you are trying to fix. A good acupuncturist will have no problem answering your questions.
4. Find out What Treatment Style the Acupuncturist Uses
You might be surprised to learn that there are many different styles of acupuncture. In the U.S. people are most familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture, which uses specific diagnostic methods and inserts needles into specific points on the body. It is actually a very complex modality; however, there are other styles of acupuncture that are similarly complex but use slightly different methods. For example, Japanese acupuncture uses fewer and finer needles at shallower depths and Korean acupuncture mostly uses points on the hands. I recommend looking into the different styles of acupuncture and finding an acupuncturist who practices in the style you feel you might like best.
5. Personal Preferences
Seeing an acupuncturist is very similar to seeing a massage therapist. It can be quite personal, and you want to make sure you are comfortable. Ask yourself if you would feel more at ease with a male or a female. Would you prefer seeing someone who is older or younger? Do you feel more comfortable communicating with someone who is fluent in your language? These are important questions to ask yourself in order to ensure that you end up seeing an acupuncturist who you feel comfortable with and trust.
When you are first looking for an acupuncturist ask around and find out if any of your friends have seen someone they would recommend. The very first acupuncturist I saw came highly recommended from a good friend of mine who had been seeing him for several months. I think I felt much more at ease going to see the acupuncturist knowing that my friend recommended him. However, if none of your friends have seen an acupuncturist, you can always search for reviews online. Just make sure you are reading unbiased reviews and not testimonials on the practitioner’s website.
One thing to keep in mind when considering seeing an acupuncturist is that you will probably need to have more than one treatment. Acupuncture can be very effective, but rarely does it fix all of your problems is one treatment. Therefore, you want to make sure that you can afford the rates that are being charged. You should also find out if your insurance or flexible spending account covers acupuncture, and if it does find someone who is covered by your insurance. It is more common for insurance to cover acupuncture than it used to be, so don’t assume your coverage won’t include acupuncture. I was surprised when I find out my student insurance covered 50% of acupuncture treatments!
If you are experiencing pain or some other problem that you think acupuncture might help, I highly encourage you to try acupuncture. I personally found great benefit from it on several occasions. My only recommendation would be to find someone reputable using this list of things to look for in an acupuncturist. Have you ever had acupuncture? Did you find it helpful?