ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The ancient Chinese medical art of acupuncture only began to be legalized in American states in the 1970s. The FDA gave it the okay in 1996 and now some 8-million Americans are using it for treatment. It is going mainstream in Central Texas now. Baylor Scott & White is introducing acupuncture and deep massage therapy at two clinics in south Round Rock and Avery Ranch, and patients approve.
Shane Casey was out riding one day in Liberty Hill when her horse throw her, fell on her and broke her pelvic bone in four places. Doctors were not encouraging, She says, “They told me you are very lucky. 50% to 60% of people do not survive an accident like that. So I chose to take medicine to be able to walk and just enjoy life.” But the medicine worried her. “I was in a wheelchair, then a walker, then a cane, so I decided to look at a different method. Because I didn’t know what the long term effects would be. What was going to happen to me when I was 80 after taking it for so long?”
She met Kendall Burleson, a licensed acupuncturist. A high school basketball injury led to Kendall getting acupuncture treatment and eventually she entered the field. She knows some folks are skeptical, “I think that’s how most people find acupuncture. It’s like one of those things, whatever, I’ll try it, or I have nothing left I’ll give it a go. You’re always skeptical when you try something new, especially something like this when it is clouded in a tiny bit of mystery.”
Shane smiles, “I knew then and there after just five sessions it helped me considerably, just to be able to enjoy life without taking medication.” The needles find pressure points on the body but the idea is to send an SOS to the brain. Kendall explains, “We’re working with a communication mechanism between the brain and body. Trying to tell the brain hey here is where the imbalance is and this is what we need to fix.” Baylor Scott & White now look at acupuncture and deep massage therapy not as alternative medicines but as part of their mainstream package. According to Kendall, “We are not replacing your primary care physician. I don’t like the term alternative medicine and I don’t like acupuncture being called alternative. It is part of the larger treatment approach.”
Most folks may readily accept deep massage but acupuncture does have that “needle thing” going. Shane says not to worry, “All of a sudden in certain areas you get the needles, you feel this relief. She turns on this wonderful music, you relax, I fall asleep, she wakes me up and I’m like, is it over?”
A licensed acupuncturist must go through three to four years of training and in Texas, must pass four exams on eastern medicines. As for insurance, some companies provide coverage, others do not but that is beginning to change. Acupuncture advocates point to studies that show it is effective in treating chronic pain, infertility, several women’s health issues, digestive and stress problems, post operative healing and even allergies. That last one might be useful in Central Texas.