One of the main reason acupuncture has become so widely popular is because it is inexpensive. Precise calculations, however, may vary from case to case. For example, if a person has an occasional headache, say, once every few months, then taking a mild pain-relieving medication would cost much less than an acupuncture treatment. But if a person suffers from headache a few times a month, then a series of acupuncture sessions may be cheaper than the cost of medication. The acupuncturist will try to reduce or even eliminate the cause of the headache, and oftentimes headaches become less intense and less frequent. Considering that the causes of headache (and most other conditions) are different from western medical standpoint, and while in some cases the symptoms can be reduced with acupuncture, in others they can be eliminated for long periods of time. In other words, the exact amount of money that someone may save by using acupuncture can vary a lot, depending on individual circumstances.
When patients shop around, they discover that different acupuncture clinics charge different amounts. Since renting commercial space in NYC is very expensive, this cost will affect the price of acupuncture sessions, and acupuncturists can’t charge much less than their colleagues if they want to keep their business profitable. At the same time, some acupuncturists manage to reduce the price of their treatment. Most commonly, they sacrifice their patients’ privacy by placing a few beds in one room, thus becoming able to fit more patients into their offices at the same time (Stone, 2008). While some patients are fine with such an arrangement, others insist on having more privacy. Their choice may have to do with personal preferences, such as simply not be able to feel comfortable during the treatment when many people are around, or due to their condition, because if a patient has a pain in a wrist he or she would rather have more sessions in a multi-bed room, but someone who has trouble conceiving would prefer being alone in the treatment room.
In certain conditions, patients take medications that have serious side effects, and replacing them with acupuncture even for a while can improve the patients’ health. For a rather extreme example, patients who receive chemotherapy and/or experience cancer-related pain are often recommended acupuncture treatment (Yaguda & Gentile, 2019), simply their bodies can’t handle additional medications. For rheumatoid conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, acupuncture may be more effective than conventional drugs (Lee, Shin, & Ernst, 2008), but, more importantly, the medications’ tendencies to produce or increase the chances of life-threatening side effects (Koźmiński, Halik, Chesori, & Gniazdowska, 2020) make acupuncture an important therapeutic choice.