It’s an ancient medical practice that’s been around for more than 2,000 years. It’s been used in place of anesthesia during surgery, as a treatment for infertility and a rehabilitation tool for athletes. Despite the practice’s longevity and breadth of use, it still remains relatively unknown in the Western Hemisphere.
It’s acupuncture — the traditional Chinese medicine that uses needles placed along specific points of the body to promote healing and restore internal functions.
To the uninitiated, acupuncture can seem mysterious, frightening or even downright painful. But nothing can be further from the truth. We’ll look at common misconceptions that keep people from tapping into this viable medical option.
“I’m afraid of needles.”
The No. 1 reason people refuse to try acupuncture is a stated fear of needles. While some people have a genuine phobia of needles, there are others who are hesitant because the first thought that accompanies the idea of needles is “ouch!” Rest assured: It does not hurt.
The needles used in acupuncture are not anything like the needles you are used to seeing. They are extremely thin, solid and round at the tip. Not only does the placement of these needles not hurt, but patients report that the acupuncture treatment itself is relaxing.
After an intake and diagnosis, your practitioner will place the needles and leave you in a restful position for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the needles. This time allows the needles to open blood flow and neural pathways to restore health and well-being to your body.
“I don’t think it works.”
Though the concept of holistic healing methods is difficult for some to explain or comprehend, a growing body of evidence is documenting empirical results from the medical practice. Research has shown acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating sports injuries, pain management, insomnia, anxiety, depression, migraines, arthritis and infertility.
In fact, recent studies in Germany and Australia have discovered that acupuncture, when used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, can boost a woman’s odds of successfully conceiving and carrying a baby up by 50 percent than those who didn't use acupuncture.
“It’s more money than Western care.”
Acupuncture costs are comparable to, if not less than, a routine office visit. Depending on the provider, acupuncture sessions can last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes and cost between $40 to $80. Compare that to a routine doctor’s visit, which could last 20 to 30 minutes, but cost a patient without insurance anywhere from $90 to $200.
As more medical centers begin offering integrative medical services like acupuncture, such as Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Menomonie and La Crosse, greater pressure is being put on insurance companies to cover the treatment.
According to a recent survey by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research group focusing on complementary medicine, 42 percent of the 714 responding hospitals offered at least one such therapy in 2010, a significant jump from just five years earlier, when 27 percent of hospitals offered such treatments.
If you’re looking for a noninvasive, all-natural medical alternative, consider giving acupuncture a try. Treatment plans vary based on each patient’s individual pattern of symptoms. Acupuncture is provided on a cash basis with no referral required.
Don’t let an excuse get in the way of reaching your best state of being.