18 Pros and Cons of Acupuncture

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As a form of alternative medicine, acupuncture is one of the most popular options that is used routinely today. It has the potential to relieve many different types of pain, reduce stress levels within the body, and numerous other well-being needs that someone may have. There is even the potential of relieving joint pain that is associated with arthritis. In return, there are some specific disadvantages that must be considered before receiving a treatment.

Is this practice right for you? Here are some of the key pros and cons of arthritis to consider before booking your first appointment.

What Are the Pros of Acupuncture?

1. It has the potential to provide people with higher levels of energy.
It may come from the pain relief or the stress management, but many people report feeling energized after an acupuncture session. Many people dedicate numerous energy resources to worries that fall outside of their control, so having those eliminated has the potential to reduce fatigue with regular treatments.

2. Acupuncture has very few side effects.
Most people experience very few side effects from their acupuncture session. Even though the practice uses needles that penetrate the skin, the deftness of the treatment provider can make this a painless experience. Many describe the experience as instantly relaxing when it is done properly.

3. It may help with other certain physical conditions as well.
Acupuncture is also known to help certain individuals with nausea complaints, ongoing vomiting, problems with the stomach, and even migraine headaches. Although many people may be hesitant to use acupuncture as a first-line treatment for such issues, this practice can often provide some, if not complete, relief when other traditional forms of medicine are found to be lacking.

4. In the United States, a national exam is required for licensing.
It generally requires 3-4 years of study in order to obtain the knowledge and practical skills that are required to become a practicing acupuncturist. Those who wish to practice this form of alternative medicine must also pass a national level exam in the United States in order to become a licensed acupuncturist. This means there is some level of consistency at every provider when seeking out a treatment.

5. It can be incorporated into a treatment plan with traditional medical techniques.
Unlike supplements, herbal therapies, and other forms of alternative medicine, acupuncture can often fit into a treatment plan with no trouble at all. People can continue taking their medication and following all the medical advice of their primary care physician while also receiving acupuncture care at the same time. Many people find that the combination of the two treatment types together brings about the largest amount of relief.

6. Some health insurance policies actually cover acupuncture.
You may find a pleasant surprise waiting for you down in your healthcare insurance policy. There are several plans that include acupuncture as a covered service. The number of paid sessions is typically limited over the course of a year, averaging 1 per month on many plans, but it can be helpful. Not every health insurance policy covers acupuncture, however, so make sure to read all coverages before scheduling an appointment.

7. New forms of acupuncture don’t even require needles.
In the last 2,000 years, acupuncture has only evolved new practices a few times. Thanks to modern technology, one of those innovative periods in this alternative medicine practice is today. Instead of using needles, some acupuncturists are using low intensity laser beams instead to replicate the nervous system responses that the needles would typically provide.

8. Acupressure may help to provide relief without the cost or risk of acupuncture.
For those who are thinking about acupuncture but aren’t sure that the risks outweigh the rewards, acupressure provides a viable alternative. In this practice, the pressure points where the needles would be placed are simply pressed to provide similar results. Because acupressure is non-invasive, many doctors are recommending this practice as a acupuncture alternative, especially when there is an aversion to needles.

9. It can be a reassuring practice.
Many people have experienced trauma that is only enhanced through a medical evaluation. “Does this hurt?” a doctor asks, pressing onto the sore spot. Acupuncture doesn’t have this. The focus is on local points that can provide relief based on a patient’s personal feedback to the acupuncturist. This means less pain, more comfort, and in a community setting, it also means there is a sense of camaraderie present.

What Are the Cons of Acupuncture?

1. It can quickly cause infections to occur.
The quality of the sanitation process on the acupuncture needles is essential to the success of this alternative medicine practice. Without proper sanitation, it is very easy to create an infection that can be extremely painful and even potentially life threatening in rare circumstances. Before having any acupuncture session, ask to see the sanitation process for the needles being used or how they come packaged if disposable sterile needles are being used.

2. The training of the acupuncturist can affect the quality of the treatment.
The only way to gain real experience is to provide acupuncture. The trouble with this is if you book an appointment with someone who is new to this skill, the resulting treatment can wind up being quite painful. Always talk to an acupuncturist about their experiences and ask for references to discuss treatment practices outside of the clinic before agreeing to any procedure.

3. There is no guarantee of success.
As with most medical procedures, there is no guarantee of success when it comes to acupuncture. It may not provide any benefits at all. In clinical research on the practice, many people have found no noticeable results after their acupuncture sessions was completed. This means that there is a good chance that even though you may be relaxed and enjoying the session, the chronic pain issues may still be present when done.

4. The symptoms that brought someone to an acupuncturist may get worse.
There are times when the chronic pain issues, nausea, or other health problems actually get worse after visiting a provider. Many people find that these health issues tend to get better over time, but that isn’t true for everyone. There are times when people feel permanently worse after visiting an acupuncturist and that is a risk that must be considered before scheduling an appointment.

5. It can disrupt lifestyle routines.
There are many different behavioral changes that may occur after just one visit to an acupuncturist. This may include changes in appetite or sleeping patterns. Some people report changes to when they need to go to the bathroom. These changes tend to be temporary, but if they last for more than 2-3 weeks, they can become new lifestyle habits that are difficult to overcome.

6. It often takes a lot of time to experience success.
It generally takes 2-3 months to begin experiencing relief from chronic conditions through acupuncture. This typically requires 1-2 visits to the local acupuncturist per week to achieve these results. The number of treatments that someone may need is generally determined in the office and since there is no guarantee that acupuncture is going to work, someone may wind up spending a lot of extra money on something that winds up doing them no good.

7. Needles inserted incorrectly can cause physical harm.
Needles that aren’t placed properly can cause rapid tissue swelling. They’ve even been known to cause organ damage if inserted too far or if swelling is rapid and severe enough. Improper sanitation techniques can lead to the spreading of bloodborne illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis. People who have a fever or an irregular heartbeat may have life threatening side effects occur.

8. Acupuncture is known to create high levels of fatigue.
Whether it is an endorphin overload, relief from pain, or the removal of anxiety, many people find themselves falling asleep during their acupuncture appointment. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that sometimes the feelings of fatigue can be prolonged and this can create dangerous driving circumstances. If you’re going to an acupuncture appointment for the first time, it may be a good idea to bring along a driver just in case.

9. Only community acupuncture may be available in your area.
A new form of acupuncture, called community acupuncture, has patients being treated simultaneously in the same room. This means more people can be treated, but it also means there is much less privacy available. The costs are typically lower for group sessions, though in return, only the head and limbs tend to be treated and that may not be the energy channel which requires adjustment.

Receive Some Unique Benefits

The pros and cons of acupuncture show that there is a chance for many people to receive some unique benefits. Although acupuncture doesn’t work for everyone, it may be worth a try if other forms of medicine have failed to relieve pain, stress, or other chronic conditions.