Acupuncture and chiropractic clinics are booming. Recently, utilization of these two healing approaches has risen dramatically as more consumers try the treatments for the first time.
Acupuncture has been practiced by millions of skilled practitioners for literally thousands of years around the world. Chiropractic care is over a century old and millions of Americans have found it to be beneficial. Instead of asking why they are gaining popularity so quickly, it seems more logical to ask why most Americans are just now realizing how beneficial these approaches can be.
Although acupuncture is essentially unknown to most people in the West, it is very common throughout at least half of the world. Interest in traditional healing methods is increasing among Americans, however. More patients are requesting acupuncture, acupressure or similar treatment when they come to my office. When a patient first sits down for an initial consultation, I inquire about what kind of problem they have, as well as what kind of treatment they think they may be interested in. Although many patients have a preference for either acupuncture or chiropractic treatment, more are simply asking for my suggestion of what might be most helpful. I find that most patients are very open to receiving treatments that they have never tried before.
A monumental shift is occurring in American health care. Patients now have more treatment options than ever before. Mainstream medical doctors have been educated to be familiar with a wider range of complimentary types of care than I would have imagined three decades ago. Although most medical physicians still have questions about many complimentary therapies, more common approaches such as acupuncture or chiropractic are gaining wide acceptance. In my office we receive referrals from medical doctors routinely. That would not have been the case a generation ago.
Twenty years ago, when I first began practicing chiropractic, my first two patients were medical physicians. This was in Nashville when I was working in another clinic. To say I was surprised by this unusual start would be an understatement. Within a year I moved to Murfreesboro to establish my own practice. Again to my surprise, I was received warmly by most local physicians.
Considering that chiropractic has been around for over a century, and acupuncture for several thousands of years, why is the change of attitudes occurring so dramatically now?
There are at least two major reasons for the shift in healthcare consumers’ behavior.
First, patients are reacting to changes in the health insurance industry. As insurance deductibles and co-pays continue to rise and more roadblocks such as pre-certifications are being erected between the patient and their preferred provider or specialists, healthcare consumers are beginning to realize that alternative treatments are now often very cost effective. Additionally, insurers are increasingly covering treatments that were once considered alternative. Chiropractic is covered almost universally. Coverage of acupuncture is growing, especially on the West and East Coasts.
Second, patients are learning that there are benefits to treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture. It is not uncommon for patients that have been frustrated by a lack of response to medication find positive outcomes when treated by a chiropractor or acupuncturist. This leads to more referrals of family members and friends.
There are many other factors that contribute to the shift. People are more focused on natural approaches to health. They are concerned about growing news reports of interactions and side effects of some drugs. Another factor is that people are simply more willing to try new things today. Imagine putting sushi in a supermarket in 1980.
If you have considered trying chiropractic, acupuncture, massage or any other form of therapy that is new to you, the time-honored suggestion of getting references is appropriate. Ask your doctor, dentist, friends, family members as well as people in your church, work, clubs and recreational activities about who they may have seen. You will probably hear several names. Eventually one will rise to the top.
As always, I recommend that you consider acupuncture, chiropractic or any other healing method as a complimentary service to your normal primary care medical provider, rather than a replacement.
Dr. Mark Kestner