You may as well go to a certified acupuncturist. Although there are competent acupuncturists who are not certified, there are plenty of certified ones, so take advantage of this quality check.

If the acupuncturist is a physician, look for certification by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA), which means he or she is a medical school graduate, completed at least 300 hours of acupuncture education in an ABMA-approved education program, passed an exam, and completed at least two years of medical acupuncture clinical experience with a case history of not less than 500 medical acupuncture treatments. Alternatively, consider a physician who is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, which means he or she completed at least 220 hours of formal acupuncture training (there’s no exam).

If the acupuncturist is not a physician, check for certification by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which means he or she earned a three-year master’s degree or a combination of an apprenticeship with at least two academic years of formal education. The apprenticeship route requires at least 500 treatments within the past five years or 5,000 for a career. There’s also an exam. NCCAOM-certified acupuncturists can add “Dipl. Ac.” after their names.

Talk with friends about their acupuncture experiences. Checkbook.org offers reviews from area patients (we primarily survey Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers).

You might also get recommendations from your primary care doctor or specialist. Some physicians have nothing but disdain for acupuncture, but many consider it an effective treatment for certain types of cases and have experience with, or patient feedback on, local practitioners.

Contact acupuncturists you are considering and ask:

  • Who at the practice performs acupuncture? If you are talking with the office of a physician or chiropractor, don’t simply assume that your acupuncture treatment will be performed by the physician or chiropractor.
  • How long has the acupuncturist been in practice?
  • What training, licensing, and certifications does the acupuncturist have?
  • Does the acupuncturist have experience treating your type of condition or problem?
  • What techniques does the acupuncturist use? Some acupuncturists use a wide range of complementary techniques like tu nai massage, moxibustion and cupping; others use just one approach.
  • Is the treatment covered by your health insurance plan? Do you need a referral from your physician?
  • For your condition, what is the typical course of treatment? How many treatments are needed, and how often? For comparison, among the dozens of acupuncturists we surveyed for treatment of an arthritic knee, most said we could expect improvement within one to five treatment sessions.
  • How much will it cost?

Since there are many qualified acupuncturists, and since other consumers tend to be especially satisfied with them, pay attention to prices. Checkbook’s undercover shoppers called a sample of area acupuncturists for their fees for private treatment of arthritic knee pain. The prices we were quoted are listed on the table below. As you can see, our shoppers were quoted prices ranging from $60 to $260 for an initial private session. There was a lot of variation in how long the acupuncturists said this initial visit would last, though most estimated between 45 minutes and 90 minutes.

We also asked about prices for community acupuncture. Prices quoted to our undercover shoppers were far lower than those for private sessions, ranging from $15 to more than $60 per session among acupuncturists who offered it.

Keep in mind that because the IRS considers acupuncture a qualifying medical expense, you can pay fees through a pre-tax health savings account.

 

Illustrative Acupuncture Prices

Prices were quoted to Checkbook's undercover shoppers who called inquiring about costs to treat arthritic knee pain

Private acupuncture session Community acupuncture
Initial treatment Follow-up treatments Initial treatment Follow-up treatments
Acu Health Center
100 W Camden Ave, Moorestown, NJ, 856-222-9444
$155 $90    
Acupuncture & Alternative Medicine Clinic
250 W Lancaster Ave, Paoli, PA, 610-296-8833
$110 $80    
Acupuncture & Alternative Medicine Clinic
915 Montgomery Ave, Narberth, PA, 610-285-8228
$110 $80    
Acupuncture & Herb Ctr
1052 E Lancaster Ave #17-A, Bryn Mawr, PA, 610-520-0877
$145 $95    
Acupuncture & Oriental Health Care
2301 E Evesham Rd #606, Voorhees, NJ, 856-952-6294
$200 $150    
Acupuncture Associates
1505 McDaniel Dr, West Chester, PA, 610-430-6211
$150 $90    
AT Wellness
4130 Creamery Rd, Collegeville, PA, 610-454-0041
$95 $70    
Barefoot Doctor Community Accupuncture
618 E Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 215-870-2211
    $25-$45 $15-$35
Be Healthy Naturally
615 W Clements Bridge Rd, Runnemede, NJ, 856-939-6663
$108 $58    
Blue Lotus Acupuncture Center
954 Town Ctr, Doylestown, PA, 215-348-7393
$110 $85 $65 $40
Chester County Herbs and Acupuncture
419 N Franklin St #2, West Chester, PA, 610-431-2008
$170 $80-$120 $55 $45
Chrysalis Natural Medicine
1008 Milltown Rd, Wilmington, DE, 302-994-0565
$65 $55    
DANA Acupuncture & Wellness Center
81 Big Oak Rd #105, Yardley, PA, 215-337-8067
$130 $90    
Dory Ellen Fish
1026 W Lancaster Ave , Bryn Mawr, PA, 215-247-2211
$140-$185 $110-$140    
Eloise Prescott
3901 B Main Street, Philadelphia, PA, 267-240-5109
$85 $75    
Empirical Point Acupuncture
40 W Evergreen Ave #112, Philadelphia, PA, 215-247-7100
$95 $95    
1st State Health and Wellness
1536 Capitol Trl, Newark, DE, 302-454-1200
$125 $68    
Gong Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
161 S Dupont Hwy, New Castle, DE, 302-328-6288
$95 $60    
Healing Arts Community Acupuncture
2012 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA, 267-227-9147
    $45 $45
Jacquelin A Doyle
1004 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA, 215-985-1344
$100 $80    
Jessica Mueller Snyder
540 Woodbourne Rd, Langhorne, PA, 215-750-6611
$90 $90    
John Kohler
1 Bala Ave #418, Bala Cynwyd, PA, 610-664-6565
$150 $100    
Julie Senko, 828 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA, 610 804-4622
$80 $65    
Living Well Acupuncture
639 Stokes Rd #201, Medford, NJ, 609-953-8118
$135 $85    
Lourdes Wellness Center
1049 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ, 856-869-8190
$100 $75    
Main Line Acupuncture
2 W Lancaster Ave, Ardmore, PA, 610-642-8888
$85 $75    
Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture
4001 Main St, Philadelphia, PA, 267-417-0147
    $25-$45 $25-$45
Maple Glen Acupuncture Center
858 E Welsh Rd #10, Maple Glen, PA, 215-628-4888
$90 $80    
Mary Ellen Scheckenbach
3901B Main St #201, Philadelphia, PA, 215-508-2300
$175 $110    
Meredith L Murphy
215 W Church Rd #112, King of Prussia, PA, 610-265-1827
$125 $80    
Oriental Healing
10 W Ormond Ave, Cherry Hill, NJ, 856-857-9494
$135 $80    
Oriental Nature Care
4990 State Rd #7, Drexel Hill, PA, 610-628-9220
$60 $60    
Pan’s Acupuncture & Herbs
2422 Bristol Rd, Bensalem, PA, 215-718-8988
$110 $70    
Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
602 Carpenter Ln, Philadelphia, PA, 215-844-2774
    $30-$50 $20-$40
Roxborough Community Acupuncture
4001 Main St #305, Philadelphia, PA, 267-417-0147
    $35-$55 $25-$45
South Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
1532 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 215-279-3932
$125 $100 $60-$75 $35-$50
Suzette Gore
940 Town Center Dr #F-90, Langhorne, PA, 215-741-1600
$170 $85    
Wellspring Physician Acupuncture
900 W Valley Rd #702, Wayne, PA, 610-687-9334
$260 $110    
West Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
4636 Woodland Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 215-222-2303
    $15-$35 $15-$35
Zu-Fang Sheng
2631 Springfield Rd, Broomall, PA, 610-325-6916
$90 $70