The World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as effective for pain anywhere in the body, although it is most often used for musculoskeletal issues. This is because pain is the only category of care that is recognized by insurance companies as treatable with acupuncture and the only area they will pay for. Patients with pain in the knees, shoulders, elbows and low back will often be referred after the medications have failed to stop the pain.
Most insurance companies now have plans that include a number of treatments. Kaiser is supportive of this alternative care and will often refer the patient to an acupuncturist. The number of treatments allowed is 5 and then a form for medical necessity must be filed to secure more treatment. Anthem, Aetna, United Health Care all have acupuncture included in some of their plans.
Even with the knowledge that acupuncture is effective for pain, initial treatment of choice continues to be a laundry list of prescription pain killers that some patients can’t tolerate or don’t want to take indefinitely. As a result, acupuncture is often the last recommendation after physical therapy and medication have failed.
It is up to the patient nowadays to be proactive and ask the doctor for a referral if one is necessary and bypass the pharmaceutical route, using it only as a last resort instead of a first approach.
Pain can be very stressful on the body, the emotions, and the life of the patient in general. Acupuncture reduces that stress, reduces pain, and can result in a reduction of medication.
If your pain is a result of respiratory problems, eye disorders, mouth disorders, gastrointestinal and genitourinary disorders, or neurological disorders, all can be treated effectively with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Often the acupuncturist will ask you to have diagnostics such as a blood test, cat scan or ultrasound when it is deemed necessary. As in China, this allows western and eastern medicine to work in concert to provide the most comprehensive care and minimize the use of chemicals and unnecessary surgeries.