Acupuncture is a form of alternative or complementary medicine used for pain relief and to combat illness. Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine that has been in use for centuries and is now a widely accepted in Western medicine for its curative and pain-relieving powers. To practice and provide acupuncture services in the United States, people must have a Masters Degree in either Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine.
The first appointment with an acupuncturist generally includes an intake to over patients’ health history, review their diet and lifestyle, and discuss why they have made the appointment. After the intake, the acupuncturist places whisper-thin needles into the arms, back, neck and other areas where the chi (or energy flow) has been blocked. These pathways—called "meridians"—where energy has been blocked become re-stimulated by the needles to bring blood and healing to the body. During the session, patients lay in a relaxed position with the needles in place for 30 minutes or more. Sometimes patients fall asleep during the treatment. In general, it is a relaxing experience. Pain from the needles is not a common side effect. In subsequent sessions, the acupuncturist builds on the patient’s existing plan and changes the treatment (or placement of needles) based on current health.
Acupuncture has been practiced in the U.S. for over 200 years, and in China and other Eastern countries for many centuries more. Acupuncture relieves back pain, eases migraines and tension headaches, and helps with arthritis. Acupuncture has also been proven to be effective in helping cancer patients manage pain, control nausea and vomiting, fight fatigue, manage hot flashes, xerostomia, neuropathy, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances, according to Cancer.gov. Several factors affect the cost of acupuncture services.
Typically acupuncturists charge one rate for initial sessions and a lower rate for subsequent sessions. The initial session is often longer because it requires more time for the practitioner to assess patients’ health needs and create a treatment plan. The higher cost of the initial intake session also helps cover the added time and resources required to add new medical patients to the practice and process any associated paperwork. Here are some examples of rates for initial visits:
Dr. Kim Yoo of the Acupuncture Center in Leawood, Kansas: $120
- The initial visit includes consultation, examination, diagnosis and treatment.
Kate Fleming of Eastern Traditions Acupuncture in Denver, Colorado: $100
Dr. Katie Ngan of Ahimsa Wellness in Walnut Creek, California: $130
- The first visit is 90 minutes.
Ongoing session rates
After the initial intake session, many providers charge a lower rate for ongoing or follow-up sessions. The lower rate is possible because the office has already processed the patient’s paperwork and created a new patient profile. In addition, the acupuncturist has already created a treatment plan and done a thorough health assessment of patient needs. Here are some examples of ongoing session rates for continuing clients:
Some acupuncturists offer session packages, enabling patients to save when purchasing several sessions all at once. A package ensures an ongoing relationship with a practitioner, which allows him or her to offer a per-session discount and provide continuity of care. Here are a couple examples of session packages from Ahimsa Wellness:
Package of five follow-up acupuncture sessions: $410, a total savings of $40, at $82 per treatment
- Package of 10 follow-up acupuncture sessions: $800, a total savings of $100, at $80 per treatment