Top 8 Things You Need To Consider When Choosing An Acupuncturist

Arvada acupunture
As an acupuncturist, I am often asked if I can treat myself. Although the answer is technically yes, I could never be trusted to handle my own issues!  So when patients come to me to ask if I know of anyone in another city or state, here’s what I tell them to look f
1. Finding Someone: First, ask around and see if you know anyone who has had Acupuncture and loved their person. As a business owner, I personally don’t do any print marketing because if someone is going to trust a stranger to poke them with needles, they want to go to someone who their neighbor/sister/etc went to… and survived!  😉  Assuming you don’t find anyone who can give you a referral then you’ll be left with online searches. Google can tell you who’s in your area or you can go to www.NCCAOM.org to find a list of nationally certified practitioners organized by zip code.
2. Convenience: It’s true that some issues can be treated with just one visit but most other health issues will need more than one visit and then occasional “tune-ups” once the issue has been resolved. So make sure, your practitioner’s location and schedule are convenient to you.
3. Expertise: In acupuncture, like allopathic medicine, some conditions require more experience and training than others. Cancer support, fertility, hepatitis and dermatological conditions can be particularly complicated issues, and I believe they are best treated by a specialist. There are numerous ways that an acupuncturist might garner experience in a medical specialty, including training or certification courses, apprenticeships or a high patient load in that area. On the other hand, almost any good acupuncturist will be trained to treat general conditions, such as physical pain and sprains, stress, anxiety, allergies, migraines, digestive disorders and smoking cessation. For these conditions, you can try any recommended acupuncturist, and seek out a specialist if you are not seeing any results after a few sessions.
4. Price: The cost of an acupuncture treatment can run the gamut, and often depends on a practitioner’s education, location and years in practice. Before you start a program of acupuncture, consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend to maintain results. Most of the time you will pay a set fee for a treatment and it will not vary based on time like a massage. There is a newer model of Acupuncture Clinics that are becoming more popular often called Community Acupuncture. In this setting you will often be in an open room with other patients and often in a lazy boy (or something similar). This setting allows the practitioners to see more people and thus offer a lower cost and sometimes sliding scale.
5. Personal Connection: Just like anything else there are all types of Acupuncturists.  Some that are very formal and will wear a white coat, some that are a bit more (dare I say) woo-woo and some (like me) who will do their best to make you laugh and feel like you are in the company of a friend, not a doctor.  It’s important to consider what you are looking for so that you find someone you feel comfortable with and trust.
6. Facilities: Its human nature to judge a book by its cover and if you pulled up to your first Acupuncture visit, all ready a little nervous, and it was a total dump… would you really be able to relax and trust that this person could help you?  An office, like any professional office, should be clean and sanitary.  This is an important time to mention smells too… many acupuncturists use something called Moxa. If you ever smell anything a little “herb-y” or weird, its ok, you’ll get used to it.
7. Technique: There are many styles and theories about Acupuncture so it’s worth asking on the first phone call what kind of technique the practitioner uses. If they are traditional Chinese style Acupuncturists, their needling style will be a bit more aggressive and chances are good you will feel something during the treatment. If you have any fear about needles you may want to look for someone who practices more of a Japanese styles as this is usually gentle and without much sensation. No matter what style they use, always remember that as a patient, you are in the driver’s seat. If you feel pain or discomfort, tell them and any good acupuncturist will have ways to help you reach your health goals while still keeping your comfortable during your treatment.
8. Insurance: This is a tricky subject for many Acupuncturists still. Many do not accept insurance because of the cost and time it takes to bill insurance and many providers are just starting to cover Acupuncture. So your first call should be to your provider to see if it is covered in-network (and get a list of who is covered) or out-of-network (get the paperwork ready because you’ll be the one submitting to the insurance company to get reimbursed). This is improving all the time, so if you have to pay out of pocket for now, that may change in the near future.

There you go! The top 8 things you need to know when choosing an Acupuncturist. Let the poking begin!

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Jana Royer-Morian