Is Acupuncture Safe?
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture, out of all the medical interventions you can do, has one of the lowest counts of injuries and deaths. Less than massage! But just because there are few injuries doesn’t mean it’s safe.
What makes acupuncture safe is not the use of tiny little needles but instead the experience of the practitioners A lion tamer, or a crocodile wrestler may have the know-how to stick their head into the animal. They can do this because they know how to do it. But would you do this without training?
Safety begins with education AND experience.
When it comes to education and experience an acupuncturist has, by far, the most. Without transferring any coursework from other medical programs, Medical school for acupuncturists, at most colleges and universities, is ten semesters long. Medical school for an MD is eight semesters (MDs do have a residency not included). In addition, an acupuncturist is required to perform a certain number of treatments under supervision of an experienced practitioner before they are even allowed a license.
For example before I could put on a lab coat I had to do three semesters worth of coursework. Then I had to do two semesters worth of observation (not even allowed to pick up the needle). Then for the rest of my education I completed well over 400 treatments under the supervision of some professors with over 40 years of experience. Many of my professors were also twofers (two for one doctors who are both acupuncturists and medical doctors). Check out my school!
Beware of unlicensed practitioners
Unfortunately there are medical professions picking up the needle without this experience or training. It’s not their fault though. Acupuncture has such few injuries these professionals believe it’s safe. They are also mislead into believing it’s totally safe by the education corporations trying to deceive them out of their money from “continuing education” classes. These corporations give them a “certification”.
Imagine a bunch of children playing pretend. One is the doctor the other is the patient. They are doing squats, lifting pretend weights, riding an imaginary stationary bicycle, doing what looks like squeezing but is “manual therapy.”
Its cute. They are pretending to be physical therapists. Sure some bungee cords and real weights would make it more dangerous, but not bad with supervision. Now imagine children with a bunch of acupuncture needles pretending to play acupuncture. Even if supervised, the parents would be arrested for neglect.
This difference demonstrates that acupuncture is dangerous. Yet the statistics say it is very safe.That is because acupuncture is VERY dangerous. What makes it safe is our training. Training that other professions don’t get.
Beware of Dry Needling
To circumvent the laws, those who stand to make money from teaching this (primarily to physical therapists who are victims to their predatory advertising) call the technique “Dry Needling”, or like in the case of the chiropractic board of Texas, manipulate the Acupuncture laws themselves to construe that it’s within their scope. The people practicing this don’t believe what they are doing is dangerous and it’s not their fault. I wrote a whole chapter about it in the Rapid Recovery Resource.
There is quite a bit of corruption from certain organizations within other professions who want to avoid going to school for ten semesters just to use acupuncture needles. We’re working hard on fighting this. To help end this, what you can do is report these folks to the acupuncture board or medical board of your state. Here in Texas it is considered practicing medicine without a license, and this is a felony.