Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Do you need a diagnosis to get acupuncture?

I've been having issues with chronic pain for a while now, but all three doctors that I have been to said that this pain is all in my head. Basically. I think acupuncture can help me deal with some of this pain. Is it safe to get it done without a diagnosis?

43 Answers

I am sorry you have had that experience with doctors... that is terribly disappointing and must be frustrating to experience health care providers blaming you for your symptoms... You would never experience that coming to my office, that's for sure! You do not need a doctor's permission to get acupuncture... some states have laws that state that, like Ohio, but no one actually adheres to that law in my experience. And yes, we can treat you in our profession without a Western Medical diagnosis.
Oriental medicine deals with the whole body.
Acupuncture makes its own diagnosis according Chinese medicine precepts of Meridians/energetic pathways and Qi/vital energy. Western medicine names for diseases are irrelevant to be able to benefit from acupuncture therapy. Hope this helps. Mari
Yes it is. Acupuncture doctor would be able to use his own diagnosis
We do not need a diagnosis from your Doctor to treat you. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we have our own ways to see the problem and work on it.

Be well, be confident, we can help.
Thank you for your inquiry.
No, you do not necessarily need a diagnosis to begin acupuncture treatments. If you have an insurance company that covers acupuncture, they may require you to get a diagnosis from your primary medical doctor. However, that is not necessarily always the case.
Thank you.
One more assessment report is important
Acupuncturists are able to diagnose by checking a patient's tongue and pulse and eyes.
In the state of Florida, we are licensed as a primary care physician. That means that we are trained to diagnose, treat and prescribe. We deal with a lot of pain that has no diagnosis from a western doctor.
You do not need a diagnosis to receive acupuncture treatment. In fact, even if you have a western diagnosis, during the initial consultation with a trained practitioner, they will often try to determine the true cause of dis-ease via establishing an eastern pattern of disease - which will be a much different diagnosis than any western one you may receive! It will be the practitioner who will determine the treatment, based upon subjective and objective findings. How you respond to each treatment will help them tweak their strategy to best optimize results specifically for you.
No, you simply need to make an appointment and let the healing begin. There are many types of acupuncturists. I practice Balance Method because I find it works best for pain. I also recommend looking into ArthiPhase for your chronic pain.
Absolutely! Acupuncture is wonderful for pain, and patients know when their body doesn't feel best. We would first attempt to find the area that you find is painful and use different techniques to help you. These include needles, cupping, electric stimulation, or a TDP lamp. The treatment varies from practitioner to practitioner, but know that they will work diligently to address your concerns to the best of their ability.
Good luck, I hope you feel better soon!
Yes, Traditional Chinese Medicine has its own diagnostic system separate from conventional medicine. Although medical reports can be helpful, it's not necessary to have a diagnosis to be treated by an acupuncturist. They will make their own diagnosis according to the theory of Chinese Medicine, which is holistic.
Mainstream medical diagnoses help us know what's going on; but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we have our own way to connect symptoms and reach a TCM diagnosis. The diagnostic codes in the medical system are even starting to include some TCM diagnoses. If the mainstream medical doctors can't diagnose you with a particular diagnosis we can still diagnose you with alternative medicine and treat you based on that.

Live Happy,

Pain is real, regardless if medical tests find conclusive evidence of why it is there.
Acupuncture is highly effective to relieve pain. Acupuncture treatment reduces or eliminates pain and discomfort with minimal side effects, while reducing the need for pain-medication. It does this by stimulating the nervous system to alter the processing and perception of pain signals by releasing natural painkillers, such as endorphins and serotonin.
Thank you for your question.

An acupuncturist will make their own assessments and treat based on their assessment.

Hope this helps.

One of the reasons why I love acupuncture is because it is a holistic medicine; mind and body are influenced by each treatment, even if the treatment is "focused" on knee pain or back pain - or whatever symptom you may have. You do not need a diagnosis to start acupuncture treatment; most practitioners will come up with their own "diagnosis" or pattern of disharmony during the initial consultation and treat according to what they find during their intake. Being holistic, practitioners help to alleviate symptoms according to what they believe the root of the problem is - not simply address the symptoms (i.e. pain). This is also because two individuals who have the same western diagnosis (say migraines) are not necessarily going to have the same cause. Therefore, a different treatment strategy would be applied to each. On top of all of this, acupuncture is generally safe and natural, in that no chemicals are introduced to the body. The needles are simply a way to help jump start the body's own healing system. However, should a practitioner believe that a scan, MRI or blood work is needed, they may recommend you see a primary care or specialist before or during treatment.
A physician might prescribe X-ray, MRI and blood tests to try to find out the cause of a condition or symptoms. In Oriental medicine, we find this information quite useful however we have our diagnostic tools to elucidate a patient issue. I would definitely recommend to make an appointment with your acupuncturist to help you resolve the pain you are experiencing.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
So sorry to hear that you have been in pain for so long. My heart goes out to you. Regarding seeking Acupuncture to help your pain is a good thing and it may help your pain. You do not need to have a medical diagnosis to get treated by an Acupuncture Physician. You will be evaluated by the Acupuncture Physician and he or she will formulate your own personal diagnosis based on the information you provide and the signs and symptoms present. Find a License Acupuncture Physician in your area and get some relief soon. Good Luck!
Your acupuncturist will diagnose you.

Glenn R. Williams, D.C., L.Ac.
Good afternoon,

You don't need to get a diagnosis before you see an acupuncturist, but a diagnosis from a medical doctor helps.

Yes, acupuncture, along with other traditional Asian medical resources, can help mediate pain. By diagnosis, I believe you mean a contemporary medical.
An acupuncturist can give you a diagnosis based on your signs and symptoms, physical exam, and other tests that we are trained in.
Your acupuncturist doesn't need a diagnosis to treat you. They will determine what according to Eastern medicine is the diagnosis and treatment.
What kind of chronic pain is the question and where is it located. Yes it can be done without a diagnosis, but is always good to have more detailed information and what is being treated for.
Discuss acupuncture with your doctor first If you have a pacemaker, pregnant, or other implants and get referral to licensed acupuncture practitioner.
Yes and no.
Acupuncture is primarily based on its meridian therapy. However, all acupuncturists were trained with knowledge of biomedicine. It will not hurt of telling your DX to your acupuncturist.
Yes. Acupuncture can help you. Eastern medicine is very different from Western medicine. We have our own diagnosis.
No you don't need a diagnosis to receive acupuncture. If you have an HMO insurance plan that covers acupuncture you may need a referral, but to pay out of pocket or to use a PPO plan you don't need a referral or a diagnosis. The acupuncturist will do a thorough intake and evaluation and give you a diagnosis based on Chinese or Japanese Medicine principles and treat you from that theory, so a western medical diagnosis is unnecessary.
Acupuncture can be used at any time, to maintain wellbeing or to recover from illness. You don't need a diagnosis. That said, chronic pain can result from factors other than those that Western Medicine considers, so it's certainly worth going to see what acupuncture can do for you.
Yes. Acupuncture works on an emotional and mental level, along with on a physical and physiological level. You do not need an official diagnosis in order to receive treatment. Your acupuncturist will diagnose you using a Chinese medical filter, and the points chosen will be based on your subjective signs and symptoms, along with objective findings such as pulse, tongue presentation, palpation of musculature.
Acupuncture treats all kinds of pain very well, it really can reduce the pain or to get rid of the pain.
Chinese medicine has its won way of diagnosis about chronic pain. You can go to licensed acupuncturist to get Chinese Medicine diagnosis and acupuncture treatment even though you do not have diagnosis from your MD.
This is where acupuncture thrives! When western medicine may not have a diagnosis, eastern medicine does and we can absolutely help you manage your pain. It is perfectly safe to receive acupuncture treatments without a western medical diagnosis because acupuncture is it's own, complete form of medicine.

If you wish to pay through your insurance company, however, you may need a prescription from a doctor or the procedure may need to be performed by a medical doctor and that may complicate things a bit. Contact your insurance company for more information. This is not required if you pay out of pocket to see a licensed acupuncturist.
Yes it is safe to do without a diagnosis.
We have our own form of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. So, when you come in, the practitioner will form a diagnosis and treatment plan then. You do not need a western diagnosis. Even if you had one, again, we would have our own. A lot of issues similar to yours, MD's have no clue.
Acupuncture can definitely be done without a diagnosis from a Western doctor. We do our own intake and provide our own diagnosis, so do not worry about that. Please search for a practitioner and make sure he/she is the right fit with you.
Absolutely! Chinese medicine does not rely on a Western medical diagnosis. While sometimes it's helpful information to have, it is not mandatory. In fact, Chinese medicine thrives when treating patterns and conditions that Western docs don't recognize.
You can absolutely get acupuncture without a western medical diagnosis. In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was developed without knowing about organs or what they did, so we don't need or use western diagnosis in our treatments. So yes, acupuncture can help with pain, even if it's "in your head" (which in my experience just means the docs don't know what's causing your pain!).
Chinese Medicine treatment plans are based on a different diagnostic model called the four pillars - looking, listening, touching, asking. Although a Western diagnosis can be factored into a treatment plan, it is not necessary in order to receive acupuncture.
I am sorry you have been experiencing so much pain. You do not need a Western medical diagnosis and even if you had one, acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which encompasses its own diagnoses and treatment. Oftentimes, as your doctors have so aptly demonstrated, blood tests, scans, MRI images cannot detect subtle nerve, bone or muscle abnormalities and therefore they cannot explain away your symptoms. There may be no detection of disease/discord but that certainly does not mean that you are imagining your pain.
Acupuncture deals with subtle cues from the body and we as practitioners are trained to look for these subtleties. Things that you think may have nothing to do with your pain may have everything to do with it. Things such as hormonal imbalances, bowel movements, sleep patterns, diet and so on. Just because you can't see it on a scan, doesn't mean it's not there. A little understanding and active listening on the part of your acupuncturist can go a long way in treating your condition, whatever it may be.
This is a great question. Having a western diagnosis in hand can sometimes be useful when visiting someone who practices Chinese medicine, but it's not necessary. The Chinese diagnostic model is very different from conventional medicine and, frankly, the case as you've described it is perfect for acupuncture/Chinese medicine. Because we diagnose in a different way, we can often identify the root cause of an issue even though conventional diagnosis can't pinpoint the problem. If I were you, I'd start with the "Find a Practitioner" link at Get a list of board certified practitioners in your area and see if you can find someone who specializes in pain management.