Traditional Chinese medicine uses the treatment of acupuncture to relieve pain. The acupuncturist inserts thin needles into the skin at specific body points known as pressure points to balance the chi flowing through the meridians of the body.
That may make you wonder why your doctor may have recommended it to you since it does not sound like something typical to American health. The Chinese method is ancient and simply uses different terms than modern medicine. The more scientific-sounding explanation says that the small needles stimulate connective tissue points, nerves, and muscles. This activity increases your body’s production of natural painkillers which can squelch pain without providing the adverse reactions of synthetic drugs.
Your doctor might suggest or prescribe acupuncture to provide you with a safer method of pain relief or to reduce nausea. Common situations for this include:
- Reduce nausea and vomiting after surgery and during receipt of chemotherapy
- Reduce pain from dental work or labor, neck or lower back pain,
- Alleviate headaches and menstrual cramps,
- Treat osteoarthritis,
- Treat respiratory disorders.
You should check with your doctor before undergoing acupuncture if you thought of trying it on your own. Three groups of people should avoid this type of treatment:
- Those with a bleeding disorder or who take blood thinners,
- Persons with a pacemaker since some acupuncture treatments send mild electrical messages to the inserted needles,
- Persons who are pregnant since some acupuncture can stimulate labor.
Choosing an Acupuncturist
Your insurance may cover acupuncture if it provides for alternative medical treatments. Phone your insurance agent to determine if your policy covers it. Ask for a list of acupuncturists that take your insurance.
Ask your doctor for a referral. Match the list of your physician’s referrals with those the insurance company provided. This gives you a shortlist from which to start researching who to use.
You should choose an experienced certified acupuncturist with good references. Check each potential practitioner’s references. Also, check their credentials and training. Some physicians also practice acupuncture. In most states, a non-physician acupuncturist must successfully complete the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine exam.
You also need to interview the practitioner. Get a feel for their personality, experience, and how they would approach your problem. Ask what treatment they recommend, what it entails, what it will cost.
Once you choose your Calgary acupuncture practitioner, set an evaluation appointment. This hour-long appointment also includes the first acupuncture treatment. Some items in evaluation, like your tongue color, might seem a little odd, but others, like taking your pulse should seem pretty workaday. At this appointment, the acupuncturist develops your treatment plan. A typical plan includes six to eight visits of a half-hour each.