By Sammy Caiola
The Sacramento Bee.
In a dimly lit building on bustling Fulton Avenue, a handful of men and women lounge in recliners with their eyes closed. They sit just a few feet apart from one another as they each experience the odd sensation of tiny silver pins sticking out from their limbs and faces. Some fall asleep, while others listen to the recorded lull of waves and wind.
Dozens walk into the Sacramento Acupuncture Project in Arden Arcade each week to get the ancient Chinese treatment in a group setting. Once a luxury reserved for those who could afford private sessions, acupuncture is quickly becoming an Everyman’s pain reliever as community acupuncture clinics make the practice more affordable.
When performed in a private room, treatment costs start around $65 and can climb as high as $250. At community clinics like the Sacramento Acupuncture Project, which opened Oct. 12, sessions cost between $15 and $35. The Sacramento clinic and three others in the region ask customers to pay what they can based on their income.
“We want people to be able to come in frequently, because that’s when acupuncture works best,” said Molly Fread, manager of the Sacramento Acupuncture Project. “You can go and have one expensive treatment and it will be nice, but it won’t solve all of your problems.”
Acupuncture is a pain-reduction method that involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. Some practitioners describe it as a way of rebalancing the body’s energy. Others believe that stimulating the nerves and muscles in connective tissues can stimulate the body’s natural painkillers and increase blood flow.
The method has been shown to provide relief from a number of conditions, including fibromyalgia, headaches, back pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Patients usually undress to lie on a massage table before an acupuncturist inserts the fine needles into any of the 361 acupuncture points recognized by the World Health Organization.