This is the placing of hair-thin needles through the skin at specific points in the body to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms.

This is the placing of hair-thin needles through the skin at specific points in the body to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of healing that is used to treat illness, pain and a variety of other symptoms.

  • During an acupuncture session, hair-thin needles are placed just through the skin in specific points on the body. These points are known as acupuncture points.
  • Much is still unknown about the way acupuncture works. One thought is that it stimulates the release of natural chemicals that stop pain messages from being sent to the brain.
  • Do not use acupuncture to postpone seeing a health care provider about a health problem.

If you are considering acupuncture, it is important you check coverage with your insurance provider before receiving therapy. Some benefit plans may provide coverage for acupuncture. Please review your coverage documents and/or call the number on the back of your ID card for more information. The estimates shown apply when the service is determined to be a covered service, eligible for in-network reimbursement.

During your treatment, the acupuncturist will insert a series of fine stainless steel needles into your skin. The needles are inserted along a series of lines or channels called “meridians.” Each meridian is thought to be connected to specific organ system.

  • The needles are left in place for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • After the session, you may be sore, numb or feel a “pins and needles” sensation.

To get the desired response, the practitioner may:

  • Twirl the needles
  • Apply a small amount of electric current to the needles

No special preparation is needed before you get acupuncture. Discuss your treatment goals and timeframe with your acupuncturist before starting treatment. There is also no special care after the treatment. However, watch for symptoms of infection, including:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Fever

As with most medical treatment, not everyone responds to acupuncture therapy.

  • Report any new symptoms or lack of improvement to your healthcare provider.
  • If you are not satisfied with your response after the expected treatment time, you may need to think about other treatment options.

Before your appointment with an acupuncturist:

  • Verify that your acupuncturist has undergone necessary training and is licensed in the state they practice.
  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations)
  • Bring a list of your medications (including over-the-counter)
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.

Here are some questions to ask your acupuncturist:

  • As a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatment, is acupuncture generally successful for my condition?
  • How soon should I notice improvement?
  • What are realistic treatment goals and how long will I need treatment?
  • What training do you have in acupuncture?
  • Does the state you practice in require licensure for acupuncturists? If so, are you licensed to perform acupuncture? If this state does not require licensure, what certification do you have as an acupuncturist?
  • What type of needles do you use?
  • What are my follow-up plans? What symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Make sure you understand your action plan, your treatment plan, any possible alternatives, and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).


Also known as:

Alternative Medicine
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