Acupuncture therapy is one of the oldest, most accepted and recognized valid medical therapy worldwide and it is more in demand now.
Since 1997, The National Institute of Health (NIH acupuncture) has approved acupuncture as an effective complementary treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as a valid medical remedy for specific conditions.
To fill the gaps in mainstream practice, rigorously trained and licensed acupuncture practitioners place thin needles into skin at certain points in the body to influence energy flow. Needles are typically extremely fine and smooth so an individual may not feel them. Since the acupuncture therapy is not painful, recommended for a range of medical conditions and nearly in every state in the U.S. one should consider including it in their wellness practice.
Some acupuncturists use new methods such as heat, pressure or electroacupuncture with needles. By increasing local blood supple, our body can release pleasant harmony elements, triggers tight muscles’ relaxation to stimulate its healing abilities and balance energy levels.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories of Yin and yang, Meridians, pulse diagnosis, Qi (pronounced as Chi) began to make more senses to world health system. It also has gradually been accepted into practices of integrative health sciences. These non-drug therapies, particularly acupuncture, in tackling conditions of non-cancer chronic pains, headache, neck pain, tennis elbow, etc. proved its effectiveness.
The energy in our body – Qi, flows through and around the body along pathways – meridians. Acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when there is too much or too little balances of chi in our body.
History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture therapy is unique to China. It is one of the earliest healing methods in Chinese medicine as well. Predate herbal medicine could go back over 8,000 years. Archaeologist found polished and sharpened bian stones (stone needle) from the New Stone Age (10,000 to 4,000 years ago) in Asian. Furthermore, in China, people retrieved ancient bamboo and bone needles.
One of the earliest mentions of stone needles is in the Shanhai Jing (Classics of Mountains and Seas) from around 475-221 B.C.E. But, it was the HuangdiNeijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) from around 305-204 B.C.E that defined acupuncture’s theory and methods and is the first written text on Chinese Medicine. It describes meridians, the functions of acupuncture points, and Qi among other acupuncture techniques.
Confucius’ the Zuo Zhuan (Spring-Autumn Chronological History) also mentions acupuncture in his ancient medical text book. In addition, stone carvings from the Han Dynasty show a half-man, half-bird figure pricking a patient with a needle. Metal needles replaced stone needles after the development of metallurgy.
The physician, Huang Fu Mi, codified China’s rich historical acupuncture text in the Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (Classics of Acupuncture and Moxibustion). From that point, acupuncture grew into a disciplined medical treatment. In the mid-twentieth century, acupuncture is a discipline of TCM was officially united with Western Medicine ensuring its continued role in the Chinese medical system.
A publication by American Academy of Actuaries illustrates a roadmap on how insurance companies in the United States make insurance coverage and reimbursement decisions. NIH Data shows that more health insurance plans choose a method to cover acupuncture and massage, cupping to treat chronic pain if they are a necessary treatment. The NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Healthy study further demonstrates an interesting finding: Americans are willing to pay for acupuncture therapy, chiropractic or massage out of pocket if their health insurance plans don’t cover them.
Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy
There are numerous studies fMRI on the potential health and wellness benefits of acupuncture. The use of MRI imaging to show the effects on the brain is an example. One study using functional MRI imaging (measures brain activity) showed that acupuncture alters the limbic network.
The University of California at San Diego for Integrative Medicine lists varies conditions that in clinical studies showed acupuncture as an effective treatment.
With in-depth study and many years of practical experience, a licensed acupuncturist offers knowledge, assessment , nd treatment to people who have chronic back, neck or knee pain. When acupuncturist uses all healing science to facilitate the body’s innate healing response, the effectiveness happens because the care is personalized to best address an individual’s unique conditions, needs, and circumstances. Further, acupuncture can help relieve Pain and improve sleep, digestion and emotional well-being according to University of California San Diego Center for integrative medicine.
As some health insurers increase coverage, resulting from regulations at the state and national levels, many see it as showing the growing acceptance of the therapies. One may find a list of seasoned acupuncturist
Health Insurance Coverage
On average, people spend more than $200 out-of-pocket over the course of their full treatment of acupuncture, massage or chiropractic care. Almost one in four spending $500 or more, according to consumer reports
Blue Cross Blue Shield says it covers acupuncture when it is medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor. A doctor may utilize acupuncture to treat chronic pain that has lasted at least six months. Neither did it respond to more conservative forms of treatment, like drugs or physical therapy, the insurer says.
Aetna limits coverage of acupuncture to “when it is used in lieu of other anesthesia for a surgical or dental procedure covered under the health plan.” In addition, the health care provider administering must be a legally qualified physician providing administering it is a legally qualified physician practicing within the scope of his/her license, Aetna says.
Aetna considers needle acupuncture medically necessary for any of the following indications, such as chronic neck pain or chronic headache, or low back pain.
However, maintenance treatment, when the member’s symptoms are neither getting better or improving, is considered not medically necessary, according to Aetna.
Insurance Review process
The Cigna HealthCare Medical Technology Assessment Council regularly reviews new treatments and technologies, such as acupuncture, to help ensure that its members have access to effective treatments, the insurer says. Requests for coverage of alternative therapy are reviewed on a case by case basis by the local Cigna healthcare physician-medical director to determine “if the treatment has been proven scientifically to be effective and whether it is covered under the member’s benefit plan,” according to the insurer.
“If there is proven effectiveness, and if the local medical director has additional questions, he/she may consult with an independent medical expert who provides a complete objective assessment based on medical evidence.”
Some other insurers give access to networks to acupuncturists or practitioners, and national network.
Although Medicare, Part A and Part B does not cover acupuncture or other forms of alternative medicine, some Medicare Advantage plans medicarecoverage may be able to provide additional benefits include but are not limited to acupuncture, knowledgeable observers say.
Acupuncture therapy caveats
Risks to acupuncture are considered relatively low when with a certified practitioner. Side effects can include infection, bleeding, punctured organs and injury to the central nervous system.
Before seeking acupuncture therapy, an individual should always check with his/her primary care doctor, especially if an individual has a pacemaker, are pregnant, and have bleeding disorder or take blood thinners. Acupuncture should only be used to complement the doctor’s care, not replace it.
Acupuncture Therapy Future
Acupuncture evolved as it continues to do today. Throughout history, Acupuncture therapy is a systemized practice that treats current health conditions while also tackling root causes. Now you equip yourself with some knowledge of acupuncture, it is time to talk with your primary care physician and book for an appointment for it.
- Suvow, Scott, L.Ac. History of Acupuncture. Retrieved from Columbia College
- Hui, Kathleen, et al. Monitoring Acupuncture Effects on Human Brain by fMRI. Retrieved from fMRI
- How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain and Improve Sleep, Digestion and Emotional Well-being. Retrieved from About-Acupuncture.aspx
- Aetna. Acupuncture. Retrieved from: Aetna
- eHealth Medicare: Does Medicare Supplement Plan F Over Acupuncture? Retrieved from: eMedicare
- Cigna. Acupuncture. Retrieved from: Cigna
- BlueCross BlueShield. Acupuncture. What does health insurance cover? Retrieved from: BlueCross
- Cigna. Member Rights & Responsibilities. Retrieved from: benefits-cigna