My blood pressure sky rockets when I see photos of physical therapists doing acupuncture without a license. I recently did a little report on the issue of acupuncture’s appropriation. In Texas, there are about 1200 actively licensed acupuncturists. This is in comparison to nearly 17,000, maybe more, physical therapists now, which increase by 1,000 almost annually.
All 17,000 of which need absolutely no license, no training at all to do acupuncture—no experience—yet it has been added to their scope of practice. At best, a weekend of training is required. MDs, even with all their medical experience, are subject to an even more extensive program! And, yes, the American Medical Association has publicly condemned the unethical application of acupuncture by unlicensed individuals, to no avail.
An acupuncture license in Texas requires a four-year master’s degree (including an extensive clinical internship), the completion of four board exams, and national certification before the Texas Medical Board will release a license. In contrast, a PT does not need any credential or experience to begin needling once they are certified by the state—though they feign decorum with a pitiful weekend course. I recently heard that even athletic trainers were being granted the ability to also perform “dry needling.” It’s inane, and the same people who do it, deny that it’s acupuncture, disparage acupuncturists and pretend we are unqualified to do our own job.
Acupuncture becomes “dry needling,” cupping becomes “myofascial decompression,” and guasha becomes “IASTM.” Basically, a PT has transformed into a xenophobic acupuncturist who thinks the phenomena of pain began with white people, and the correlative cures only came around after America was founded. PTs will foam at the mouth, howling how their concepts derive from “Janet Travell and Trigger Points.” Though her work is notable, it is also novel and perfunctory, and, most importantly, it is acupuncture theory stripped of the common Chinese lexicon.
The appropriation is so bad that my business page automatically changed my professional title to “physical therapist,” even though all I post are pictures of my acupuncture treatments. Computational algorithms, lacking bias, cannot tell the difference between our activity, so the semantic chicanery propagated by PTs is highlighted even more intensely. It doesn’t get more black and white than that.
Though it is changing quickly, acupuncturists are not (yet) afforded the same due diligence in the present healthcare industry and most LAc’s rely upon entrepreneurial methods to build their business. Acupuncture businesses are being robbed by the very people that have denigrated our medicine since its inception. It is unjust. This issue might not change in our favor, but I don’t have to stand for it, and I don’t have to be quiet about it.
I’ve tried to confront persons and stir up action, but I believe it is futile. The money provided by the PT lobby associations far exceeds that of acupuncturists in Texas, and litigative attempts in other states (re: North Carolina) have already prove very precarious for acupuncturists. So, this is my plea, at least to the friends and readers around me, that if you want acupuncture, or “dry needling,” performed upon you, please go to a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.) and support people who trained and endured the honest path to the profession.