Types of Providers Who Perform Acupuncture
A variety of providers with diverse medical backgrounds may practice acupuncture. If you’re considering acupuncture, you’ll want a highly qualified provider for your treatment. But how do you find the best one for you?
The states regulate the practice of acupuncture and each state has its own laws. Most states require certification through NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Some don’t require certification, but limit the practice to certain medical providers. So first, you need to know who can legally perform acupuncture in your state.
Types of Providers
The following providers may perform acupuncture, depending on your state’s acupuncture regulations:
Chiropractors specialize in correcting spinal alignment problems without drugs or surgery.
Licensed acupuncturists specialize in acupuncture and have certification through the NCCAOM.
Medical doctors specialize in traditional medicine.
Naturopaths specialize in naturopathy or naturopathic medicine—a form of alternative medicine based on the healing power of nature and the human body.
Nurse practitioners practice a mix of nursing and medicine, often in collaboration with a doctor.
Osteopathic doctors specialize in a hands-on method of diagnosing, healing, and promoting health.
Physical therapists specialize in improving and restoring mobility, movement, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination in people of all ages.
Physician assistants practice medicine under the supervision of a doctor.
Any of these types of providers can perform acupuncture if your state allows it. Your job is to find the one who best meets your needs. Use these five steps to find the best provider for you.
1. Top Things to Look For
Find a provider who:
Is board certified in their specialty and licensed if required by your state
Has experience using acupuncture to treat patients with your specific condition
Accepts your insurance
You are comfortable talking with and who fully answers your questions
2. Ask Around
Start by creating a list of potential acupuncturists. Ask your family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. If you’re starting without any referrals, or you’re looking for more options, search for acupuncture providers on Healthgrades.com.
Healthgrades.com shows patient satisfaction ratings, which give you insight into how your own experience might be with the provider. Patients rate the provider and the provider’s practice, and say if they would recommend the provider to family and friends.
3. Research Credentials and Experience
Take time to research the providers’ credentials and experience. Look for a provider who is board certified in their specialty and performs acupuncture on a regular basis. The more experience a provider has treating your condition or performing acupuncture, the better your results are likely to be.
Also, confirm the provider is in good standing with state and federal agencies and that he or she has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You’ll find all this information on Healthgrades.com.
4. Interview the Provider
As you narrow down your list of acupuncturists, call each office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the provider. Another option is to set up a phone consult.
Ask yourself if you are comfortable talking with the provider.
Does he or she respect your opinions and answer your questions in a way you understand?
Here are some questions to ask the provider:
Do you typically treat patients like me?
How often do you perform acupuncture? How much of your practice is devoted to acupuncture?
What results do you usually see? Do you have outcomes data to share?
How frequently do you encounter complications from acupuncture?
What do you do to avoid complications or correct them if they occur?
5. Determine Your Insurance Benefit
Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. And it may or may not cover acupuncture. If it does, you may need to choose a provider that participates in your plan. This will help you receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care.
Keep in mind that just because a provider participates in your insurance plan doesn’t mean he or she is a high-quality acupuncturist. You still need to consider the provider’s experience and expertise.