Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
05. The Benefits of Acupuncture
From Our Blog
What problems can acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems. Frequently the acupuncture is combined with conventional medicine. Some of the problems supported by WHO that have shown clinical benefit with acupuncture include: digestive disorders, respiratory disorders, gynecologic and obstetric issues, musculoskeletal and neurologic problems including acute and chronic pain. Acupuncture has moderately strong clinical evidence supporting its use for problems related to tension, stress, and certain emotional conditions.
What’s a normal treatment like?
If done properly, most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Once in place the needles do not hurt. All the needles used in the United States are FDA approved, sterile and single-use disposable. The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. More chronic medical problems may require weekly treatments for a few months, whereas acute problems can sometimes be treated with 3 or 4 sessions. It is quite common with the first couple of treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation. We recommend taking it easy the day of your treatment as much as possible.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture?
No. Acupuncture has been used successfully in Veterinary Medicine for years. The animals do not understand what’s happening, yet have very positive responses to their acupuncture treatments. Of course a positive attitude and hope for one’s improved wellness can reinforce the treatment; a neutral attitude will not block the treatment. If someone has a particularly negative attitude towards their ability to heal, it may be best not to try acupuncture.
Is acupuncture safe?
There have been relatively few reported complications from the use of acupuncture needles over the past three decades. Especially with the millions of people treated each year and the billions of needles that have been used. The complications reported have been from improper sterilization and inadequate placement of the needle. When not delivered by a competent, well trained acupuncturist, serious adverse events can occur including infection and organ injury.
How do I find a qualified practitioner and is it covered by insurance?
More and more insurance companies are recognizing the value of providing coverage for acupuncture services. Each health policy must be reviewed to determine benefits. Hopefully with the positive research that is being produced with the support of the National Institute of Health, more insurance companies will get on board.
It is extremely important to visit a qualified acupuncturist. Most states, including Vermont have a licensing board. Medical acupuncturists are physicians who have completed a formal acupuncture training program and successfully completed the examination requirements of the medical boards of their respective states.
To find practitioners who have been certified and or licensed to practice acupuncture, please visit the following websites:
Vermont Acupuncture Association
American Association of Medical Acupuncture
Philip Trabulsy, MD, is an orthopedist at Fletcher Allen and an assistant professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.