• Doctor, can acupuncture help my condition?

    The best answer will come from an experienced practitioner. The practitioner, based on your medical history, condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, can best help you decide whether acupuncture is suitable by itself or as adjunctive therapy. Please see the referral section of this website for a physician skilled in acupuncture near you.

    I generally tell patients that if their treatment, according to a Western diagnosis with options, isnt resolving the problem,is quite expensive, or has significant side effects/hassles associated with it, then clearly acupuncture is worth a try. I include the Western diagnosis criteria because I think, as just an example, it is ridiculous to treat someones dizziness with acupuncture if what they need is to have excessive wax cleaned out from their ear canals. On the other hand, if one is having difficulty controlling or improving ones asthma with Western treatments, a trial of acupuncture makes utmost sense.

  • Conditions Recommended for Acupuncture by W.H.O.

    Respiratory Diseases

    Acute sinusitis
    Acute rhinitis
    Common cold
    Acute tonsillitis

    Bronchopulmonary Diseases

    Acute bronchitis
    Bronchial asthma

    Eye Disorders

    Acute conjuctivitis
    Cataract (without complications)
    Central retinitis

    Disorders of the Mouth Cavity

    Pain after tooth extraction

    Gastrointestinal Disorders

    Spasm of the esophagus and cardia
    Acute and chronic gastritis
    Gastric hyperacidity
    Chronic duodenal ulcer
    Acute and chronic colitis
    Acute bacterial dysentery
    Paralytic ileus

    Orthopedic Disorders

    Periarthritis humeroscapularis
    Tennis elbow
    Low back pain
    Rheumatoid arthritis

    Neurologic Disorders

    Trigeminal neuralgia
    Facial paralysis
    Paralysis after apoplectic fit
    Peripheral neuropathy
    Paralysis caused by poliomyelitis
    Meniere’s syndrome
    Neurogenic bladder dysfunction
    Nocturnal enuresis
    Intercostal neuralgia

    In addition, you might read “An Overview of Medical Acupuncture” by Dr. J.M. Helms. or the Acupuncture Information and Resource Package from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

  • How does the acupuncturist manage infection control?

    Non-physician acupuncturists are required by law in most states to use disposable one-time-use sterilized needles. Physicians because of their experience and background in infection control have the perogative of using re-usable sterilized needles. These needles would need to be sterilized in the same way as any surgical instrument.

    Because blood loss and bleeding are minimal with acupuncture, I am not aware of any attempt to require acupuncturists to wear gloves.

    My review of the literature on the risk of infection associated with acupuncture assures me that if one receives acupuncture from a licensed practitioner in North America the risk of a serious infection is drastically less than the risk of a serious accident while traveling to the acupuncturist’s office. The exception to this might be acupuncture being delivered in a hospital setting.

  • What training is required to practice acupuncture?

    Requirements can vary significantly worldwide. In most of Europe a person to legally practice acupuncture must first be a medical doctor. In this country there are non-physicians who are licensed to practice. Again there can be significant variations in requirements depending upon local laws.

    You can review our requirements for membership in the AAMA as a guideline for recommendations for physicians wanting special training. We, as an organization, leave issues of credentialing of non-physicians as acupuncturists in the hands of non-physicians and politicians.

  • Can acupuncture help cancer patients?

    Read the article “Acupuncture and Cancer Treatment.”

  • Information Resources for doctors interested in medical acupuncture

    If you are interested in integrating acupuncture in your current medical practice read “Incorporating Medical Acupuncture into a Standard Medical Practice.”

    Go to State Licensure for a list of requirements on a state-by-state basis. Also see State Laws.

    Go to the membership page for our requirements for physician membership (MD, DO and DVM) in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. And see the Continuing Medical Education page for training programs.

    See a list of accredited acupuncture schools in the US for non-physicians.

  • What conditions can acupuncture treat?

    Ultimately, the best answer will come from an experienced and qualified acupuncture practitioner. The practitioner, based on your medical history, condition, and what other treatments you have been or are receiving, can best help you decide whether acupuncture is suitable by itself or as adjunctive therapy. Please search the “Find an Acupuncturist” (link) directory on this website for a physician acupuncturist near you.

  • What is an acupuncture treatment like?

    This is a difficult question to answer because of the wide variations in the styles of acupuncture performed. The acupuncturist you select should be able to describe the session in detail to you before he or she begins treatment. Generally speaking, 3-15 needles will be placed. The needles are very, very thin and are not inserted deeply; the needles should not cause pain. Some patients describe slight tingling or heat sensations where the needles are placed. The needles will remain in place for 10-20 minutes while you lie still and relax.

  • What training is required to practice acupuncture?

    The AAMA holds its diverse membership to the highest standards of training and proficiency among North American physicians (MDs and DOs) practicing acupuncture. Some physician acupuncturists pursue advanced training and credentialing, including a board certification designation DABMA (Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture) and FAAMA (Fellow of the American Academy of Acupuncture), both of which require a minimum of 300 hours of acupuncture education.

    Non-physician acupuncturists may also hold credentials indicating their education and training levels. Some examples are:

    • LAc – Licensed Acupuncturist
    • MAOM – Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
    • DAOM – Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
    • Dipl. Ac. – Diplomate in Acupuncture
  • How do I find a qualified acupuncturist?

    AAMA members listed in the “Find an Acupuncturist” (link) directory on this website have all completed extensive training in acupuncture techniques, alongside their medical education. If you are considering non-physician practitioners, experts recommend checking with your state medical board to review licensing requirements. Look, too, for certification from the NCCAOM, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

    Please refer to previous question for information about titles, credentials and training.

  • Does insurance cover acupuncture?

    More and more insurance companies, as well as Medicare/Medicaid, are covering acupuncture for some conditions, but the only way to know for sure if you’re covered is to call and speak directly with your insurance provider. The billing team at your physician’s office may also be able to provide information to help you determine if your condition meets your insurance provider’s eligibility standards for coverage.

  • My doctor doesn’t offer acupuncture. What do I do next?

    If you’ve asked your primary care physician about acupuncture and he or she doesn’t provide the service, ask for referrals to colleagues in the practice, in the health care system or in your community. You may find it helpful to print out the names of AAMA members in your area (search our “Find an Acupuncturist” link directory for member names) and take it with you to your next appointment with your doctor. Together, you can discuss potential providers.

    If your doctor has questions about whether acupuncture will be a helpful part of your treatment plan, please refer him or her to the AAMA website section “For Physicians,” link where we’ve highlighted relevant research and scientific evidence.

  • Where can I learn about acupuncture for military service members and veterans?

    In recent years, U.S. military and VA health providers have increasing included acupuncture and other forms of alternative and complementary medicine in the treatments they offer to individuals in active duty and to our veterans. Ongoing legislative efforts in the U.S. Congress address increased access and affordability of these services. To learn more, visit these sites:

    Note: Although there has been discussion recently (2019-2020) about covering acupuncture services, TRICARE does NOT offer such coverage at this time. Some VA facilities do offer acupuncture services at low or no cost, but demand may be high.