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Politics of Acupuncture

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Politics of Acupuncture

August 29
15:23 2017

If you are like me, the very mention of acupuncture conjures up all kinds of thoughts of fake or quack medicine or some eastern mysticism. When it was first recommended to me, I brushed it off as something I didn’t believe in or was even interested in trying.

I was in an auto accident in which I lost 1 ¼ inches in height instantly due to extensive damage to the discs in my neck and back and the wedge compression of a vertebra in the center of my back. I was in a lot of pain and was recommended to a doctor at a spine clinic.

The doctor told me that 5 of the 7 discs in my neck were damaged (3 herniated and 2 bulging) and 5 discs in my back, right between my shoulder blades, had been compressed down to almost nothing and one of my vertebra in the same area looked like a sideways V on x-rays.

He told me that my spinal damage was too extensive for surgery and said about the only thing that would help would be to see a good sports trained chiropractor and to try acupuncture. That really shocked me as many mainstream doctors rarely recommend chiropractors and I’ve never heard of one recommending acupuncture.

I found a really great chiropractor and he agreed that I should try acupuncture. I told him I didn’t believe in all of that eastern nonsense and he said to try it anyway, so I contacted the acupuncturist the spine doctor recommended.

When I went for my first visit, I told the doctor that I was very skeptical and didn’t think it would work. He said he hears that a lot and then said that sometimes it may take 2-4 treatments before you really start to see some results. Besides being an acupuncturist, this doctor also had a practice as a family doctor and was well respected in the local medical community and at the main hospital system.

He listened to what was wrong with me and then began inserting the needles from the top of my neck down to my ankles. Twenty minutes later, the needles were removed and I was told to go home, relax and drink lots of water.

Later that day, I was shocked at how much better I felt and that night, I had the most restful sleep I had in years. This skeptic was now a believer and I ended up going back for more treatments.

However, even though some of the chiropractic treatment was covered, the employer-provided insurance would not cover any of the acupuncture treatment, even though it was recommended by the spine specialist. At the time, each treatment cost me $110 out of pocket and that just wasn’t in my budget.

I began looking into insurance coverage for acupuncture and found that very few health insurance policies cover it as it is considered alternative medicine. When I talked to someone at the insurance company, they told me that acupuncture was thought of in the same way medicine men and witch doctors were thought of and that no reputable company would cover that kind of fringe treatment.

I offered to provide documentation of the positive results and uses for acupuncture, but the insurance company was not interested.

There is a lot of documentation showing that acupuncture can help relieve chronic pain, especially skeletal and muscular pain. Many people have reported that acupuncture has helped relieve some of the side effects of chemotherapy. A number of women have testified that acupuncture helps to lessen some of the symptoms of menopause and menstrual cramps. Acupuncture has also been associated with helping many people improve their mood. It has also proven to be beneficial with treating headaches, allergies, acid reflux, improving the immune system, relieve stress and help some heart issues, and has helped some people lose weight. These are only a few of the documented benefits of acupuncture.

Yet, most healthcare insurance companies won’t cover acupuncture and many mainstream doctors would never recommend it to any of their patients.

Thus, you have the politics of acupuncture. As long as most doctors refuse to consider it, most insurance companies won’t cover it.

Do I recommend acupuncture? YES! Once a skeptic, now a believer. I went into it not expecting it to work but was surprised when it did work. If it wasn’t for the politics involved with most doctors, perhaps more companies would cover it and more people would reap the benefits of acupuncture.

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