Acupuncture, an ancient traditional Chinese medical therapy, is used widely around the world. When practiced by a certified provider, it is safe and patients often find it calming and relaxing. Animal and human studies have found a physiologic basis for acupuncture needling in that it affects the complex central and peripheral neurohormonal network. Although it is unclear whether acupuncture is beneficial over sham/placebo acupuncture, acupuncture care yields clinically relevant short- and long-term benefits for low back pain, knee osteoarthritis, chronic neck pain, and headache. The integration of acupuncture into a primary care setting also appears to be cost-effective. The practice of acupuncture in primary care requires rigorous training, financial discipline, and good communication skills. When done correctly, acupuncture is beneficial for both patients and providers.
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