Acupuncture Considerations
Written by Editor   
Monday, November 27, 2017 05:51 PM

There is an ongoing confusion regarding acupuncture in healthcare. To some, acupuncture is an ancient therapeutic treatment that has been in widespread use since the stone age and is available for all to use.  To others it is the bedrock of an oriental medical system every bit as jealous of its “turf” as the occidental (western) medicine system is of its professionals.    

Since the 1950s it has been official policy of the Chinese to encourage the study of traditional Chinese medicine, western medicine and the integration of the two medical systems. Like others, a number of chiropractors in Texas investigated and began to practice the oriental healing art, and acupuncture therapy has been available for the use of qualified DCs for the benefit of their patients since 1988.  In 1993 the State of Texas established a limited scope medical profession with the creation of the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners (TSBAE) as a part of the Texas Medical Board.

What do doctors of chiropractic need to be aware of where acupuncture is concerned?  

  • The first and foremost thing is to recognize that one must act within the scope of their licensure.  
  • Chiropractic doctors should also recognize that there are minimum qualifications for using acupuncture as a therapy within the chiropractic profession.  
  • They should also anticipate potential increased requirements for acupuncture certification and maintenance of that certification.  
  • Another wise consideration might be to refrain from making use of the term “acupuncturist.” Practitioners will want to ensure that the public understands that they are dealing with “a doctor of chiropractic who makes use of acupuncture,” rather than an “acupuncturist – one who practices” the regulated profession of acupuncture.

The key is: be the best that you can be; operate within your limitations; recognize and respect the rights of others to the use of the words directly related to their legal profession without infringing upon them.


More details:

Acupuncture emerged as one of the earliest healing methods in the history of Chinese medicine, and since the 1950s it has been official policy of the Chinese to encourage the study of traditional Chinese medicine, western medicine and the integration of the two medical systems. Only after President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 did the practice of acupuncture became widely exposed in the United States. 

Like others, a number of chiropractors in Texas investigated and began to practice the oriental healing art. In 1973, however, the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) prohibited the use of acupuncture within chiropractic practice. At that time the Texas Medical Board considered acupuncture to be the practice of medicine and sought to allow only licensed physicians to perform acupuncture. A Texas Attorney General (AG) however, determined that rules put forth by the medical board were unconstitutional. Even so, in 1975 the TBCE created a rule removing acupuncture from the practice available to doctors of chiropractic. Thirteen years later, however, the TBCE repealed this rule and acupuncture therapy has been available for the use of qualified DCs for the benefit of their patients since 1988.  Five years later, during the early 1990s, there was interest in regulating a stand-alone health care profession of acupuncture.  In 1993 the State of Texas established a limited scope medical profession with the creation of the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners (TSBAE) as a part of the Texas Medical Board.

In 1995 this acupuncture board requested an AG’s opinion that determined acupuncture was not within the legal scope of the practice of chiropractic, but in its following 1997 session the Texas legislature determined to allow doctors of chiropractic to make use of acupuncture within their scope of practice. 

While some maintain that only licensed acupuncturists should be allowed to perform the therapeutic treatment of acupuncture or moxibustion, they fail to note that the acupuncture law in Texas “does not apply to a health care professional licensed under another statute of this state and acting within the scope of the license.

The National Institutes of Health notes that there is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine, and a newer study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, demonstrates that acupuncture should be considered a valid treatment for all types of chronic pain. It can be expected that western medical boards will continue to seek control over this chief component of “traditional Chinese medicine.”

What may doctors of chiropractic do regarding the use of acupuncture in their practices?  The first and foremost thing is to recognize that one must act within the scope of their licensure.  Professionals regularly review the statutes and rules of their profession to ensure that they completely understand their scope limitations as defined in law.  Chiropractic doctors should also recognize that there are minimum qualifications for using acupuncture as a therapy within the chiropractic profession.

Those utilizing acupuncture must observe these qualifications and should hold themselves to a standard higher than is called for as the minimum. This will present the practice of acupuncture within chiropractic in the highest light possible. Such practitioners should ensure that their continuing education is sufficient to keep their knowledge among the best practitioners at the top of the field. 

The days of acquiring a “minimal knowledge and then setting up shop” are long passed. The state has established that acupuncture is a stand alone profession, just as it did with physical therapy in 1971.  Chiropractic doctors should anticipate potential increased requirements for acupuncture certification and maintenance of that certification.

Another wise consideration might be to refrain from making use of the term “acupuncturist.” As was done when the state has created the profession of physical therapy and generally assigned those words for their use, it has also created an acupuncture profession; it can be expected that words associated directly with their profession with may one day be assigned or even limited to those licensees.  Practitioners will want to ensure that the public understands that they are dealing with “a doctor of chiropractic who makes use of acupuncture,” rather than an “acupuncturist – one who practices” the regulated profession of acupuncture.

The key for a successful practice is be the best that you can be; operate within your limitations; recognize and respect the rights of others to the use of the words directly related to their legal profession without infringing upon them.