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The Most Commonly Treated Acupuncture Indications in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Study.

 2018 Oct 9:1-33. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X18500738. [Epub ahead of print]

The Most Commonly Treated Acupuncture Indications in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Study.

Wang H1,2Yang G3Wang S4,2Zheng X5,2Zhang W6Li Y2.


Acupuncture has been a popular alternative medicine in the United States for several decades. Its therapeutic effects on pain have been validated by both basic and clinical researches, and it is currently emerging as a unique non-pharmaceutical choice for pain against opioid crisis. However, the full spectrum of acupuncture indications remains unexplored.

In this study, we conducted a cross-sectional survey among 419 acupuncturists nation-wide to investigate the top 10 and top 99 acupuncture indications in private clinics in the United States.

We found the top 10 indications to be:

lower back pain, depression, anxiety, headache, arthritis, allergies, general pain, female infertility, insomnia, neck pain and frozen shoulder.

Among the top 99 indications, pain represents the largest category; and mental health management, especially for mood disorders, is in greatest demand.

The following popular groups are: immune system dysfunctions, gastrointestinal diseases, gynecology and neurology. In addition, specialty index, commonality index, and the potential to become medical specialties were estimated for each indication. Demographic analysis suggests that China trained acupuncturists tend to have broader indication spectrums, but the top conditions treated are primarily decided by local needs. Also, gender, resident states, age and clinical experience all affect indication distributions.

Our data for the first time outlines the profile of acupuncture treatable conditions in the US and is valuable for strategic planning in acupuncture training, healthcare administration and public education.


Chinese Medicine; Common Acupuncture Indication; Gyneocology; Immune Disorders; Mental Health; Pain; Review; Survey