ACUPUNCTURE from a Doctor’s Perspective

The variation in acupuncture practice is often disturbing to the scientific mind, which demands certainty and evidence-based medicine, but “acupuncture is a forgiving and extremely flexible science.” (Deadman, et. Al. A Manual of Acupuncture. Jo of Chinese Med Pub., England, 2007).

Acupuncture was adapted and successfully used by millions of practitioners, is practiced throughout the world, and it has survived >2000 years.  Perhaps people today seek “alternative medicine” because Western or modern approaches lack the emotional/spiritual component that was and is always part of the healing process.  Even the therapeutic power of simple human touch and physical diagnosis is sometimes lost to modern technology and the pressures of time, money, etc.

I believe acupuncture works because it embraces deeper concepts of healing: treating the body as a whole, the idea of the body’s energy in “balance,” and the amazing potential of something as small as a hair-thin needle being able to tap into the body’s own rich resources – stimulating the body to heal itself. 

            From a physician’s perspective, the best thing about acupuncture is that it is safe and has virtually no risk of serious side effects – which is more than can be said about many medications, procedures, and surgeries that are used on a frequent basis to treat patients.  It is also cost-effective in the longterm, especially if it can help people overcome their pain naturally and eliminate the need to use unnecessary diagnostic tests, expensive medications, and invasive procedures.

            I am not a licensed acupuncturist, but I am certified to do medical acupuncture.  I use it in a very limited fashion and strictly to treat pain, especially back pain and other common musculoskeletal complaints.  I was trained in the Kiiko or “Japanese” style of acupuncture, which uses not only specific points, but also the concept of reflection zones and release points to ease pain.  A session is 45-60 minutes long, and the patient is treated in both supine and prone positions in the office.

            Unfortunately, most insurances will still not cover acupuncture, even when practiced by M.D.s; however, we are trying to change this as patients do well and the medical community accepts acupuncture more and more as a valid treatment for pain (see NIH consensus statement).

Medical Acupuncture

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