Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that is also a form of complementary and alternative medicine (which is often abbreviated to CAM). Cam is defined as, “A group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered an integral part of conventional medicine.” There is a slight difference between complementary medicine and alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is used to work together with conventional Western medicine whereas alternative medicine is used “in place of” conventional Western medicine. It is important to note that complementary medicine goes by other names as well, such as allopathy, Western medicine, orthodox medicine, biomedicine and mainstream medicine.
When searching for an acupuncturist always seek to find one who is both licensed and qualified. Many national acupuncture organizations can be found in libraries or over the Internet and they can help you find a qualified professional to help you with whatever health problem you are suffering with. Whatever you do, always take the time to check out the credentials of a potential practitioner. A person who practices acupuncture who has both credentials and is licensed is more aptly qualified to treat you and is likely to provide a patient with much better care than a non-qualified practitioner. It is non-qualified practitioners who have the tendency to give many aspects of complementary and alternative medicine a bad name.
Not all states across the U.S. impose the same criteria under which a person can be granted a license to practice acupuncture. To date an estimated 40 states have established their own set of training standards to allow for certification in acupuncture. Be aware that proper credential do not necessarily guarantee the competency of the practitioner but they do show that the person has been able to met a set level of standards in order for them to be granted the right and responsibility of treating patients in this manner.
It is always wise to listen carefully to the suggestions of your medical doctor in regards to the diagnosis and treatment of a health problem before turning to an acupuncturist. Inquire of your doctor if he thinks acupuncture might benefit your health condition, as there are some health conditions that will benefit from this form of CAM whereas others will not. Never rely solely on a diagnosis from an acupuncturist who has little if any training in conventional training. Be aware that acupuncture used to stand on its own but today many medical professionals are taking the time to study acupuncture and learn the trade so that they can incorporate it into their medical practices and thus offer another option of helping their patients get better.
Acupuncture is generally cheaper than many types of conventional medical services but always find out how much treatments will cost before you agree to do them and also how many treatments you will need to benefit your particular health condition. Sometimes acupuncture treatments will all occur in the span of a couple of days while in other cases they will be spaced out over a number of weeks and sometimes longer. Physicians who have learned acupuncture and incorporated it into their practices are likely to charge more for their services than are acupunctures that are not physicians.