What are acupuncture and acupressure?
Acupuncture is one kind of treatment from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It uses very thin needles to stimulate points on the body to improve well-being. Acupressure uses pressure, tapping or massage over these points. Other ways to stimulate these points include moxibustion (heat), cupping (suction), electricity, magnets, and cold laser. There are different kinds of acupuncture: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and even French acupuncture.
Does it work?
Acupuncture has been used successfully for thousands of years. Modern scientific studies have shown that acupuncture and acupressure can be especially helpful for patients suffering from:
- Arthritis in the knee
- Back pain, especially low back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Menstrual discomfort
- Nausea or motion sickness
- Tennis elbow
How does it work?
There are traditional explanations from ancient China, and modern scientific explanations. Traditional practice is based on a theory of energy flowing through the body in channels called meridians. Traditionally, it is believed that blockages in this energy flow are associated with illness or pain. Restoring optimal energy flow and balance helps to improve well-being. Another central theory is promoting the delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Modern science has explored acupuncture's effects on nerve fibers, the spinal cord and different parts of the brain. Research continues to reveal new ways acupuncture benefits health.
I'm afraid of needles. Does that mean acupuncture is not for me?
You are not alone. Almost everyone is afraid of needles. However, even fearful people can benefit from acupuncture. There are non-needle techniques for those who are very fearful.
Acupuncture needles are very thin; even children usually find them much more comfortable than they'd expected.
Acupuncturists are used to working with people who are afraid. Most acupuncturists are gentle, patient and good-humored. They will work with you to help you feel better; they will not force you to undergo treatments that are unpleasant for you.
Are there serious side effects?
Rarely. Acupuncture is extremely safe when performed by an experienced acupuncturist. Side effects can include minor bleeding or bruising, a dull or full feeling where the needle is inserted, and mild sleepiness. More serious side effects such as infection, broken needles or lung puncture are extremely rare.
Can acupuncture be used in children?
Yes! Dr. Kemper's research at Boston Children's Hospital (Harvard Medical School) showed that children could benefit from acupuncture. UCLA, Boston Children's and Seattle Children's Hospitals have pediatric acupuncture programs.
Are there acupuncturists in our community?
Yes! In 2009, we surveyed 90 acupuncturists in our region. Three met the criteria we developed at Harvard Medical School:
- licensed in the state of NC
- in practice for at least one year
- willing to accept referrals from our physicians
- willing to be observed by doctors in training
- willing to participate in research; and
- recommended by 2 or more other licensed acupuncturists in our community
Boyd Bailey, Lic Ac. (Winston-Salem, NC) 336.777.0037
Piedmont Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
Keoni Teta, Lic Ac. (Winston-Salem, NC) 336.724.4452
The Naturopathic Health Clinic of North Carolina
SiWei Wang, Lic Ac. (Clemmons and Winston-Salem, NC) 336.659.8120
Chinese Healing Arts Center for Acupuncture & Herbology
These three met our criteria for local acupuncturists in the 2009 survey. Others located in the Triad that are licensed in the state of NC include:
Andres Vergara, Lic Ac. (Winston-Salem, NC) 336.508.1121
Heather McIver, Lic Ac. (Greensboro, NC) 336.510.2029
By making this list available, neither the Program for Integrative Medicine nor Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center makes any recommendations, promises, or guarantees about the effectiveness of acupuncture or specific acupuncturists. For any serious medical complaint or condition, please see your physician before trying any new therapy. If you decide to try acupuncture, please inform your physician so all practitioners can work together to provide coordinated, comprehensive care. As with any intervention, there are potential risks and side effects which you should discuss with a licensed practitioner prior to treatment.
How much does it cost?
Costs vary by the condition being treated. Typically an initial visit costs between $75 and $140. Follow-up visits usually cost between $50 and $75.
Will my insurance pay for acupuncture services?
MedCost covers acupuncture services, including services by licensed acupuncturists (not just MDs) with a doctor's order. The High plan, after the deductible, covers up 90% of costs up to $1000 per calendar year of services by a MedCost provider. The Low (Value) plan, after the deductible, covers 70% of costs, up to $1000 per calendar year of services by a MedCost in-network provider.
Other insurance carriers that cover acupuncture (depending upon your plan) include Aetna, United Health Care, and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Not BCBS of NC). We suggest you call your insurance company to ask about coverage.
Flexible medical spending accounts sometimes reimburse for treatments with a letter from your physician. Check with your insurance and talk with your acupuncturist about typical rates, sliding scales and payment schedules.
Where can I learn more about acupuncture?