An acupuncturist is a healthcare worker who treats patients using acupuncture and other holistic therapies. Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, although the name comes from the Latin words Acus (needle) and Pungere (to prick). The medical practice of acupuncture goes back thousands of years. The acupuncture practitioners of today are fully licensed complementary healthcare professionals often working side-by-side with traditional medical doctors.
Acupuncture is a good choice for back pain sufferers who are looking for non-pharmaceutical pain management which has proven to be effective and has little, if any, risk factors. I certainly see the benefits of acupuncture compared to the pharmaceutical symptom management which comes with a variety of inherent health hazards. Unfortunately, some patients have limited access to services, or can not get their health insurance to cover treatment, forcing them to take relief where they can find it, typically in the bottom of a pill bottle which has been marked with far too many warning labels to actually read.
Acupuncture is a therapy designed to restore balanced chi/qi energy to the body. Ultra-fine needles are inserted into the anatomy at specific places called acupuncture points. The majority of these points lie on defined pathways called acupuncture meridians or energy meridians. These pathways are the qi equivalent to the circulatory system. Instead of distributing blood, they distribute life energy throughout the body.
Disease and injury can cause or be caused by disruptions and imbalances in this vital life energy. Acupuncture seeks to correct proper qi flow and balance, creating optimum health.
In the United States, a acupuncture practitioner must be licensed in order to practice. Once licensed, they can use the title, L.Ac. after their name to signify they are a licensed acupuncturist. Other titles are commonly used to signify accreditation or advanced degrees. There are many medical professionals who practice acupuncture, including chiropractors, physicians, Doctors of Oriental Medicine, and some types of therapists. Of course, there are also dedicated acupuncture providers who concentrate specifically on this one therapy.
It is crucial to remember that acupuncture is as much art as it is science. The skill and experience of the caregiver will have a tremendous effect on the efficacy of the treatment results. If you have tried acupuncture without seeing much benefit, it may be the provider who failed you more than the treatment itself. This is something to consider before giving up on the modality completely.
I am friendly with a number of acupuncture professionals. I have studied the Chinese energy system in great detail in my martial arts training. I do not practice acupuncture, but I am well versed in simple acupressure applications for healing and advanced acupressure for self defense. I have learned much from practitioners in this interesting and specialized field.
Most acupuncture providers are well educated and incredibly knowledgeable professionals who can assist in providing care for almost any type of health complaint. Acupuncture is a holistic therapy method that seeks to create a condition of vigorous general health rather than simply treating disease. This is a big plus both in the theory and practical application of care.
I recommend trying acupuncture as part of a combined care plan for back pain or almost any other medical condition.