If you prefer complementary therapy that promotes health and well-being without surgery or medication, acupuncture may be the prescription for you. Your acupuncturist is your partner in treating chronic pain.
You can also rely on your acupuncturist’s expertise and knowledge to help you manage and prevent a variety of conditions from mental and emotional disorders to immunity and reproductive problems.
How do you find the best acupuncturists in Chicago? Don’t be afraid to be picky and ask as many questions as you want. You should still consider experience, acupuncture techniques, licensure, credentials, and patient reviews as you make your selection.
Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork to save you hours of research. Below you’ll find a curated list of the best and most trusted acupuncturists in Chicago.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a traditional treatment in Chinese medicine practiced for many centuries. At its core, it involves skin needling, a complementary therapy in which very tiny needles are inserted into specific spots (acupuncture points) in your skin to relieve pain, promote healing, and improve wellness.
Acupuncture is hinged on the principle that stimulating these points using needle therapy can help balance the flow of vital energy called chi through the body. It’s thought that it stimulates connective tissue, muscles, and nerves. By improving the flow of chi, acupuncture also boosts blood flow and oxygen circulation.
Of more importance, acupuncture is believed to prompt the body to produce natural painkillers. It works much like the way exercising, yoga, and meditation encourage the body to release happy-feel chemicals called endorphins. And by doing so, acupuncture promotes healing, as well as restores and maintains health.
Does inserting needles hurt? As you may expect, you’ll feel a little prick when the needle is stuck in, then followed by slight tingling and warmth. This experience of course will vary from person to person and based on the specific acupuncture point. For example, a needle inserted into the ankle point will give a twinge sensation rather than tingling.
Needle therapy in general doesn’t hurt. After all, inserting around 30-40 needles should take an expert acupuncturist less than 10 minutes. It often takes another 30 minutes for the needles to deliver a dose of stimulation to your muscles, tissue, and nerves.
Why is acupuncture done? Needle therapy is commonly performed for pain relief, as it stimulates the release of chemicals that soothe chronic pain. Acupuncture may also help with an array of health conditions and symptoms, including the following:
- Eye problems like cataracts, conjunctivitis, eye dryness, blurred vision, etc.
- Auditory and ear disorders, such as hearing problems ringing in the ears, earache, etc.
- Emotional and mental disorders, such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, and addiction
- Digestive problems like heartburn, ulcers, constipation, chronic diarrhea, nausea, etc.
- Neurological disorders, such as facial nerve pain, peripheral neuropathy, sciatica, migraine, headaches, and dizziness
- Respiratory disorders, including bronchitis, tonsillitis, and asthma
- Reproductive complications, including infertility, premenopausal syndrome, and even impotence
- Joint problems, including arthritis, lower back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Improving immunity, lowering blood pressure, and increasing athletic performance
- Dental problems, such as toothache, gum disease, etc.
Acupuncture has also been touted as a wellness tool for maintaining health and improving energy levels. Even more exciting, recent research seems to suggest that acupuncture may be potentially effective for low-back pain, knee pain, hot flushes, and other conditions. Of course, more research is still required.
It’s important, however, that you regard acupuncture as a complementary treatment. It shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for a medical treatment plan. Also, acupuncture may carry some risk for pregnant women, people using blood-thinning medications, and anyone who has a pacemaker. Please consult your doctor to learn which acupuncture treatment options are most effective and safest for you.
Who performs acupuncture? An acupuncturist is the primary provider of acupuncture and related therapies. They’re responsible for inserting the needles into appropriate acupuncture points. Before they do, the acupuncturist will evaluate and review your health history and current symptoms and conditions.
Acupuncture therapies vary from one provider to the next. It usually includes a raft of therapies that are rendered over a period of multiple weeks or months. Each acupuncture session typically lasts between 45 minutes and 90 minutes.
What to Look for When Searching for the Best Acupuncturists in Chicago?
If you’re looking for complementary therapy, acupuncture may appeal to you. An acupuncturist is a godsend when it comes to protecting your health and managing certain symptoms and conditions. But what makes a good acupuncturist?
Here are some tips and factors to keep in mind to find the best acupuncturist in Chicago who will meet your needs.
Licensure is perhaps the most crucial thing to check as you select an acupuncturist in Chicago who is ideal for you. Good thing is, all qualified acupuncturists listed here are licensed by the state of Illinois to practice acupuncture therapy. In addition to that, we make sure that each candidate is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
Licensure is often indicative of an acupuncturist who has the necessary experience, skills, and training to practice acupuncture. You’ll soon notice that some of them are also practicing doctors of osteopathy (DOs) or qualified medical doctors (MDs).
While checking the acupuncturist’s credentials, make sure that they have no history of disciplinary actions or malpractice claims. You can find the acupuncturist credentials such as disciplinary/malpractice history, certifications, training, and education from the state and NCCAOM websites.
Experience is a key decision factor, much like licensure, education, and other credentials. This is especially important when you’re looking for an alternative or complementary treatment for fatigue, pain, migraines, back pain, and other chronic symptoms.
The more experience the acupuncture specialist has with a given procedure, condition, or therapy, the better your outcome is likely to be. Check to see how many people with your particular condition or symptoms the acupuncturist has addressed.
Furthermore, ask about the rates of complications the patients have encountered while getting acupuncture. More crucially, find out if there are risks associated with those complications. It’s important to work with an acupuncturist that knows the ins and outs of what they do.
– The Acupuncturist’s Gender
You will need to openly discuss your intimate and health situations with the acupuncturists, so you’ll want to choose a gender you’re most comfortable with. More often than not, an acupuncturist of your own gender is often a no-brainer choice.
The best news is that acupuncturists are being trained to tailor their services differently for men and women. Ask your chosen acupuncturists about their recent experiences and training particularly related to your gender and your condition.
– Liability Insurance
It’s of paramount importance that your acupuncture specialist has appropriate liability insurance. If anything goes wrong when you’re receiving therapy, it’s vital that you and your acupuncturists are covered when it comes to expenses and other liabilities. Having a liability is usually an indication that an acupuncturist has your best interests at heart.
– Treatment Plan
Acupuncture care may take several visits to deliver the desired results. Your acupuncturist should be able to explain to you what therapies will be used and how long your treatment will last based on their experience dealing with your specific condition. You’ll probably be told that how you respond to treatment will determine the period of care.
While it’s true that acupuncture treatments take several weeks to produce lasting results, you’d want your acupuncturist to be able to tailor your treatment plan to your specific situation. A good acupuncture specialist should be able to write up the length, costs, and plant for treatment based on an initial assessment.
– Patient Reviews
As with any service, it’s crucial to read or hear what others have to say about an acupuncture specialist. Patient reviews and testimonials will provide you with great insight into how the specialist offers needle therapy. Besides, reviews will tell you how an acupuncturist operates their practice.
The first place to check has to be review sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, Google Reviews, and other high-ranking, credible review sources. You can also review patient satisfaction surveys, which often ask patients about their experiences with care received, practice office professionalism & friendliness, office environment, wait times, scheduling appointments, and other key factors for customer happiness.
From patient satisfaction surveys, you can also find out how long the acupuncture specialist spends with the patient, how well people trust them, and their communication style. In other words, you should be able to paint a reasonable picture of the acupuncturist in terms of professionalism, care delivery, and friendliness.
– Insurance Coverage
Are the therapies offered by the acupuncturist covered by your insurance? Your policy coverage is more a practical issue than whether the acupuncturist is good at what they do or not. The bottom line is that you must pick an acupuncturist in Chicago who is covered, either partially or fully, by your health insurance.
By choosing a specialist that participates in your insurance plan, you will be able to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and get the most insurance benefits for your care. If there’s no coverage, ask if the acupuncture therapies or sessions are eligible for reimbursement via the employer’s flexible payment plan. Even so, you should still keep in mind the acupuncturist’s experience, patient reviews, credentials, and service quality.
– Hospital Affiliation
There are hundreds of acupuncturists practicing in the Land of Lincoln, but not all of them are affiliated with a hospital or healthcare facility. You may benefit more from an acupuncture specialist that’s affiliated with over 25 hospitals in Chicago, including AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital and AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center Hoffman Estates. Most of these acupuncturists are covered by popular insurance plans and employer’s sliding spending plans.
The location of the acupuncture practice should also factor into your decision. After all, you’ll need to see the acupuncturist multiple times over several weeks or months to complete your course of treatment. You may find it more comfortable if you choose an acupuncturist you can see on short notice, be they on your way to/from work, close to your home, or accessible via major transport means.
How Can Acupuncturists in Chicago Help with Back Pain?
Acupuncturists practice needle therapy which is mostly based on the principle of energetics within your body system. They will insert needles on your body at several pressure points through the skin. Note that these tiny needles are not intended to cause discomfort, harm, or pain.
On the contrary, the acupuncture specialist uses these needles to target qi points or what’s called meridians for pain relief. By doing so, the acupuncturist will help deal with painful muscles, nerves, and tissues in your back.
The most common qi meridians that acupuncturists target for lower back pain include stomach points, hip points, hand points, lower back points, footpoints, and some points on the back of your knees.
For thoracic or upper back pain, the acupuncturist will probably target acupuncture targets located on the upper back, shoulders, neck, face, and general head area. The overarching idea is to stimulate these qi meridians, which are prominently part of the central nervous system – they’re responsible for pain sensation.
Acupuncturists may also help provide relief for other musculoskeletal disorders similar to or related to back pain. These may include chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), osteoarthritis, post-surgery recovery, migraines, fibromyalgia, bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and joint pain. Modern medicine doesn’t provide much in the way of pain relief for these agonizing conditions.
So how does acupuncture help with back pain? The science behind acupuncture in and of itself isn’t well-understood. However, there are a handful of ways by which it’s thought to help with back pain:
- Stimulates the release of opioid-like natural chemicals. It’s thought that stimulating qi meridian prompts the body to release natural painkillers. These opioid-like chemicals are naturally occurring in the body and deliver the same pain relief effects as opioids like morphine and hydrocodone.
- Stimulation of the nervous system. It’s thought that the brain, muscles, and spinal cord releases certain chemicals when acupuncture stimulates the aforementioned trigger points. Moreover, some of the chemicals could possess natural pain-relieving properties.
- Induces your body’s electromagnetic impulses. As a result, these electromagnetic impulses accelerate your body’s response to pain – by facilitating the release of feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins, for instance.
- Stimulate the release of neurotransmitters. These are special hormones that play a big role in controlling the on/off mechanism of several nerve endings that regulate pain. It’s thought that acupuncture stimulates these neurotransmitters that deactivate pain-feeling nerve endings.
How Can Acupuncturists in Chicago Help with Fertility Treatments?
For some women trying to conceive, acupuncturists can not only help relieve their stress and anxiety but research has also shown that acupuncture has promise for boosting fertility. The acupuncturists usually use electro puncture to send gentle electrical impulses through the trigger points.
By doing so, electro puncture therapy will stimulate nerve endings and encourage the body to release happy-feel neurotransmitters like endorphins. In turn, these neurotransmitters can have immense positive effects, such as relieving depression, anxiety, and stress that may be making it hard for you to conceive. It has also been shown that acupuncture may help reduce high levels of the stress hormone cortisol which has been known to increase the chances of miscarriage in women.
An in-depth interview and consultation will be a key part of your initial visit to an acupuncturist. He or she may ask questions that may seem at the moment unrelated to fertility, but these questions will help determine the best therapy for you.
After the initial visit, the acupuncture specialist will use a variety of therapies to target pressure points that will enhance blood flow and improve fertility. Some of the target trigger points focus on depression, anxiety, and stress while promoting relaxation and centered circulation.
The tiny needles will stay put for around 25-30 minutes while you focus on relaxation. Your subsequent visits will likely be shorter and based on your improvement.
How Can Acupuncturists in Chicago Help with Cupping Therapy?
A holistic acupuncturist in Chicago offers much more than needle therapy. You can also expect to get cupping therapy, as well as other acupuncture-related therapy.
Cupping therapy or Chinese cupping is an alternative or complementary therapy in which the acupuncturist places special cups on your skin for a couple of minutes for suction purposes. Most acupuncturists in Chicago offer dry cupping, wet cupping, or both.
In dry cupping therapy, the acupuncturist will pour a bit of paper, herbs, alcohol, or other inflammable stuff in the cups before lighting them on fire. This is sometimes referred to as fire cupping therapy. The acupuncturists will place the flamed cups upside down on your skin once the flame goes out. This will create significant suction as the hot air inside the cup cools down.
Dry cupping therapy is designed to dilate your blood vessels, therefore improving circulation and blood flow. Just like acupuncture, cupping targets certain pressure points to stimulate pain relief. The cut often stays put for around three minutes to do its magic.
When it comes to wet cupping (also known as hijama), your Chicago acupuncturist will go a step further than in dry cupping. Once the skin has been raised and blood flow improved, the specialist will administer small, harmless cuts to the target areas to stimulate qi flow and release toxins.