Acupuncture has played a vital role in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and it is now becoming more common throughout North America. Although there are a number of conditions that acupuncture appears to be capable of managing, it is best known for its ability to relieve pain. But is acupuncture a good pain relief treatment for you to explore? That depends. Weigh these pros and cons, and decide for yourself.
Pro: Acupuncture is natural and safe
Many patients are worried about the safety and long-term side effects associated with taking prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers. And while not everyone who takes these medications develops problems, this concern is valid since some do develop ulcers, kidney disorders, and high blood pressure. Acupuncture, by comparison, is a much safer pain relief option. You don't want to swallow any substances. While there is some risk of infection, this risk is very, very low as long as you work with a practitioner who uses sanitized needles.
Con: Acupuncture is not typically covered by insurance
Acupuncture is largely considered an alternative therapy, and many health insurance companies do not cover alternative therapies. There are some exceptions, so it's worth calling your insurer and asking if acupuncture can be covered — but chances are, the answer will be "no." Many practitioners charge $100 or so per appointment, so the costs can add up over time if you have to pay out-of-pocket.
Pro: Acupuncture relieves stress, too
Stress and pain often go hand-in-hand. Pain makes you feel stressed out, and the stress makes the pain more obvious. Acupuncture is one of the only pain management strategies that address both stress and pain, which makes it uniquely powerful. As you walk out of your appointment feeling like stress has been lifted off your shoulders, you can look forward to more lasting pain relief and relaxation.
Con: Acupuncture does require a substantial time commitment
An acupuncture appointment takes about an hour, and you may need treatment as often as once a week — especially at first — to keep your pain at bay. This is a pretty substantial time commitment, and it might be hard to work in if you already have a busy schedule.
If you can afford it both in terms of time and money, acupuncture is a safe and effective way to manage chronic pain. Reach out to an acupuncture practitioner near you for prices and to learn more.