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 $45 to $300 or more 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 $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
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Center
7250 France Ave S #308, Edina, 952-820-0877
$150 $85    
Acupuncture In The Park
8085 Wayzata Blvd #100A, Minneapolis, 763-205-4644
$105 $80    
American Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
1925 County Rd, Roseville, 651-631-0204
$68 $68    
Anodyne Community Acupuncture
1520 E 66th St, Minneapolis, 612-314-6987
    $30-$55 $15-$40
Bobbie Hodgdon
18410 Priory Ave, Minnetonka, 952-470-5832
$125 $80    
Chinese Acupuncture & Herb Ctr
7550 France Ave S #240, Edina, 952-830-8107
$120 $75    
Complete Oriental Medical Care
7400 Metro Blvd #280, Edina, 612-866-4000
$300 $84    
Crocus Hill Oriental Medicine
1032 Grand Ave, St Paul, 651-227-6865
$125 $70    
Darcy Gilbert-Burke
6120 Wynnwood Rd, Golden Valley, 763-591-0111
$95 $75    
Deanne Aronson
5849 Oakland Ave, Minneapolis, 612-798-0565
$120 $120    
Dinkytown Family Chiropractic
8815 Penn Glen Pl, Bloomington, 612-379-1808
$60 $40    
East West Clinic
5770 W Bald Eagle Blvd, St Paul, 651-429-9595
$90 $75    
East Wind Acupuncture
3300 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, 612-377-0080
$120 $80    
Elliot Acupuncture
6400 Flying Cloud Dr #240, Eden Prairie, 952-277-9975
$95 $75    
Eternal Spring
2978 Rice St, Little Canada, 651-330-8583
$76 $76    
Firefly Acupuncture
1000 Berkshire Ln N, Plymouth, 763-300-1399
$90 $70    
Grace Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
7373 147th St W, Apple Valley, 612-408-0118
$99 $67    
Green Dragon Acupuncture
12203 Aberdeen St #120, Blaine, 612-414-3250
$95 $72    
Knewtson Health Group
23505 Smithtown Rd #100, Excelsior, 952-470-8555
$45 $45    
Lake Pointe Chiropractic & Wellness
5000 W 36th St #120, Minneapolis, 612-922-8100
$145 $95    
Lakefront Acupuncture
500 Marschall Rd #210, Shakopee, 952-200-1246
$90 $60    
Lowry Community Acupuncture
8609 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, 952-994-6585
    $30-$55 $20-$45
Minneapolis Community Acupuncture
3706 E 42nd St, Minneapolis, 612-708-8917
    $25-$50 $15-$40
Minnesota Clinic of Integrated Medicine
7965 Stone Creek Dr, Chanhassen, 952-294-9978
$125 $80    
Minnesota Community Acupuncture
5500 Lincoln Dr #100, Edina, 952-746-3478
    $25 $20-$40
Modern Point Accupuncture & Sports Medicine
9325 Upland Ln N, Maple Grove, 763-494-9500
$110 $85    
Monticello Clinic
1001 Hart Blvd #100, Monticello, 763-295-2921
$272-$472 $72    
NE Community Acupuncture & Wellness Ctr
1224 NE 2nd St, Minneapolis, 612-399-6322
    $30-$60 $20-$50
North Memorial Humphrey Cancer Ctr
3435 W Broadway Ave, Robbinsdale, 763-581-2800
$175 $125    
Penny George Institute of Health & Healing
2833 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, 612-863-3333
$130 $90 $45 $35
Point Acupuncture
2565 Hamline Ave N #B, Roseville, 651-699-2002
$120 $68    
Red Clover Clinic
2233 Hamline Ave N #433, Roseville, 612-308-3597
$125 $75    
Red Cricket Acupuncture
3747 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, 612-824-0037
$140 $85    
Red Peony Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
2917 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis, 612-824-8080
$95 $70    
Selby Acupuncture
400 Selby Ave #G2, St Paul, 651-224-6678
$115 $80    
Southpoint Community Acupuncture
1828 E 38th St, Minneapolis, 612-724-3891
    $25-$45 $15-$35
St Paul Community Acupuncture
1619 Dayton Ave #107, St Paul, 651-207-6865
    $25-$50 $15-$40
SuNu Spa
12455 Ridgedale Dr, Minnetonka, 952-314-7035
$100 $80    
TCM Health Ctr
2021 E Hennepin Ave #412, Minneapolis, 612-379-3583
$118 $78    
Transition to Health
1075 Hadley Ave N #106, Oakdale, 651-235-7324
$85 $65    
Twin City Acupuncture Ctr
2220 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis, 612-341-5000
$105 $63    
Vaida Wellness Center
101 Lake St W #210, Wayzata, 952-473-1773
$165 $115