Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Could be Great News for Your Employees

Viewed as effective treatment tool by many doctors

person getting acupuncture

For years, acupuncture was viewed with skepticism by the medical community. But today, many doctors view it as an effective tool for helping to treat chronic pain—which could be great news for your employees and your workplace.

Americans may spend as much as $635 billion a year on costs related to chronic pain, which is more than the cost of care for cancer, diabetes and heart disease care. Lost productivity, sick days and depression associated with chronic pain all have serious negative implications for the workplace. Meanwhile, the abuse of opioid drugs commonly prescribed for pain management has led to a national crisis. Many organizations are encouraging their employees to explore alternatives to addictive medications for pain, such as physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness.

Proven alternative to pain management

Acupuncture is another safe, proven alternative to pain management. The technique, which involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points in the body, originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. Practitioners use it to treat dozens of conditions, including back pain, migraines, depression, nausea, infections, chemo-induced neuropathy, and alcohol detoxification.

For most conditions, there hasn’t yet been strong scientific evidence showing that acupuncture is effective. But numerous studies have shown that acupuncture may help with chronic conditions such as low-back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain. It may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and migraine headaches. Researchers think that inserting the acupuncture needles releases endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing chemicals, and serotonin, the chemical in the brain involved with mood.

Relieving pain - not adding to it

The needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin‚ so most people don’t experience any major discomfort

Many people are apprehensive about getting acupuncture because they worry it will be painful. In fact, the needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin‚ so most people don’t experience any major discomfort. The length, number, and frequency of visits depend on each person’s specific condition, their health and their individual response to the treatment. Some people get good results from regular weekly or monthly treatments.

At Tufts Health Plan, we’re committed to offering your employees options when it comes to their health care. That’s why, effective January 1, 2020, we’re proud to offer members of fully insured commercial plans1, including employer-sponsored plans, access to unlimited acupuncture coverage with no prior authorization or referrals required.

Learn more about our new acupuncture coverage.

  1. Excluding Tufts Health Direct members