Acupuncture, an ancient traditional Chinese medical therapy, is used widely around the world. When practiced by a certified provider, it is safe and patients often find it calming and relaxing. Animal and human studies have found a physiologic basis for acupuncture needling in that it affects the complex central and peripheral neurohormonal network. Although it is unclear whether acupuncture is beneficial over sham/placebo acupuncture, acupuncture care yields clinically relevant short- and long-term benefits for low back pain, knee osteoarthritis, chronic neck pain, and headache. The integration of acupuncture into a primary care setting also appears to be cost-effective. The practice of acupuncture in primary care requires rigorous training, financial discipline, and good communication skills. When done correctly, acupuncture is beneficial for both patients and providers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Dr Mao is supported by National Institutes of Health–National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH/NCCAM) grant 1 K23 AT004112 and an American Cancer Society Cancer Control Career Development Award for Primary Care Physicians. The grant agencies played no role in shaping the content of this manuscript. Dr Mao is the founder and president of Acupuncture Education International, Inc.
- Acupuncture therapy/adverse effects
- Evidence-based medicine
- Primary care