Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin sterile needles, for the purpose of treating pain, stress, and fertility among other health challenges.
Today, there are several types of practitioners that “practice” acupuncture. They are: medical doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. The amount of training in acupuncture varies greatly among these professionals.
Medical doctors (M.D.) and Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.) do not have to complete any acupuncture training to practice as a “Medical Acupuncturist” in the state of Colorado. They can elect to complete a 220 hour training to become a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.1
Physical Therapists can begin practicing dry needling after completing a 46 hour training.1< Dry needling is insertion of a needle into trigger points, needles are not usually retained in the body.
Chiropractors must complete 100 hours of acupuncture training and must pass an exam administered by the Chiropractic board.1
Acupuncturists must earn a master’s degree in acupuncture and spend a minimum of 650 hours practicing acupuncture and 705 hours learning acupuncture and oriental medicine theory in addition to biomedical training.1
In the United States, acupuncturists are governed by the state and almost all states require a license. In Colorado, after earning a Master’s degree and passing a series of exams administered by NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) a candidate may become licensed. Colorado acupuncture licensees are identified by L.Ac after their name. DAc, DACM, or DAOM all indicate the acupuncturist is a Doctor of Acupuncture (and Chinese Medicine or Oriental Medicine).
The best way to find an acupuncturist is to check with your friends and ask if they have an acupuncturist they like. If none of your friends knows of someone, check google listings for an acupuncturist in your area searching for the condition with which you are seeking help. For instance, if you have back pain search for acupuncture back pain. If the search turns up several acupuncturists, check their websites to see if they specialize in the condition in which you are seeking treatment. Next, check to see if they are updating their skills by completing extra training such as continuing education classes. If they have Google reviews read the reviews.
If you are using insurance to pay for acupuncture, check your insurance company’s listings. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to verify they will pay for acupuncture. Most insurance companies do have plans that pay for acupuncture but not everyone has that type of plan. If your insurance doesn’t pay for acupuncture, most flexible spending plans or health savings accounts do provide reimbursement for acupuncture treatments.
“Acupuncturist Education, Training & Credentialing.” Acupuncture Association of Colorado – Our Training.