Feb 07, 2018 8:00 AM

Author: Annie Budhathoki, DAOM, LAc

a hand with acupuncture needles

I often hear the same four questions from people who have never tried acupuncture: What is it and how does it help? Is it safe? Does it hurt? How much does it cost?

As a licensed acupuncturist with several years of experience, I am passionate about helping people improve their health and well-being with acupuncture. Read on to find all the answers to your questions and the many benefits of this integrative treatment.

How does acupuncture help people with cancer?

Acupuncture can help ease many side effects of cancer and its treatment. It does not take the place of the care you get from your cancer team, but it can help you feel and heal better.

Acupuncture can help with these conditions:

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Appetite
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neuropathy
  • Night sweats
  • Pain
  • Smoking cessation
  • Stress 

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. Acupuncture at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is safe for people who are being treated for cancer or have finished treatment. All needles are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The needles are sterile, only used once, and then disposed.

All acupuncture providers at HCI are licensed to practice acupuncture and have years of training and experience. They follow the same safety standards as the other providers on your cancer care team.

Does acupuncture hurt?

The needles used in acupuncture are very thin. Most people do not find treatments painful. In fact, most people find them to be relaxing. 

What is the treatment like?

The acupuncture appointment takes about 1 hour. You will lie down on a padded table in the treatment room. The provider cleans your skin with alcohol and puts in the needles. The very thin, sterile needles are used only once. The number of needles and the places they go in depend on the conditions being treated.

Many patients don’t feel anything when the needles go in. Some people may feel a tiny prick or a tickle. If any needle hurts or feels uncomfortable, ask the provider to change the needle position or remove it. The needles stay in place for about 30 minutes while you relax on the table. You can ask for a blanket if the room is too cool. The provider will dim the lights and turn on soft music. Some people say they feel something like a warming, circulating, or wave-like feeling going through the body. This is normal and is actually a good thing.

The provider will leave a call button within reach so you can ask for help. Use it if you become uncomfortable or any other problem comes up.

After the treatment, the provider will remove the needles. Providers count the needles to make sure all are collected and thrown away.

Each patient’s needs are different, so the treatment schedules will vary. Many patients plan their acupuncture treatment the same day as other appointments at HCI.

HCI's acupunture team
HCI's acupunture team (from left): Tansy Crane, LAc; Annie Budhathoki, DAOM, LAc; Lynne Morgan, LAc; and Rebecca Shatles, LAc

How much does it cost?

HCI patients and caregivers can receive acupuncture treatments for $40 per treatment. We do not bill insurance for acupuncture treatments, so check with your insurer if your policy covers acupuncture before you start treatment. We can give you documents to make a claim with your insurance company.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Treatments are offered Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at HCI’s Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center located on the first floor of the cancer hospital. To make an appointment, call 801-587-4585. 

Annie Budhathoki, DAOM, LAc

Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness and Integrative Health Center

integrative medicine wellness

Cancer touches all of us.

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