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Acupuncture doctors treat patients by using the ancient art of acupuncture along with its entire system of healing. Acupuncture itself is the treatment of a variety of ailments through the practice of inserting tiny needles at various points throughout the body. The practice also contains many additional elements which various acupuncture doctors are specialists at implementing to varying degrees.
Patients who enter an acupuncture clinic are usually seeking treatment from any of a vast number of ailments. Acupuncture doctors, through a series of questions and physical examinations, must first determine the nature of the ailment and the actions that must be taken to heal it. When the treatment is acupuncture itself, the doctor will decide which points of the body will be penetrated with the needles, and will also prescribe the necessary herbs associated with the accompanying ailment.
Acupuncture does not just involve the process of sticking needles in body parts. Another important element in acupuncture is the use and knowledge of a wide array of herbs and herb mixtures, which are administered either with the needles or on their own. Doctors who specialize in acupuncture are usually also experts the art of acupressure, which involves the massage of pressure points rather than the penetration of needles. Acupuncture doctors are also experts in prescribing lifestyle changes that can be used in conjunction with the treatment, such as eating and exercise habits.
Unlike many traditional forms of medicine, acupuncture treatments can vary greatly from one acupuncture doctor to another. For instance, a treatment may consist of only four or five needles or it can involve as many as twenty, or even more. Sessions can last several hours, and patients are often required to make several visits before results are seen. Different patients may also react differently to the process of acupuncture, resulting in the necessity for the acupuncturist to be able to improvise greatly from one patient to the next, even if the patients are suffering from the same ailment.
In most jurisdictions, acupuncture doctors must receive a high level of education, usually over three or four years, and go through a rigorous licensing procedure in order to be qualified to practice acupuncture. The herbology component of acupuncture also requires a high degree of knowledge because of the many types of herbs and their effects on the body. It is also important that these doctors follow a rigid code of ethics that include the important necessity of using clean needles. Most states require aspiring acupuncture doctors to pass an exam provided by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine before they are able to legally practice in this highly specialized field of medicine.