I have been seeing Scott* in my clinic for several months. Scott is in his late 50’s and has been suffering from headaches for over twenty years. When he came to me, he was suffering from headaches that could last three to four weeks at a time. His only relief is an injectable form of Imitrex, a drug for acute migraines. On a really bad day, Scott might need to inject himself two and even three times before he found relief.
I have been seeing Scott weekly, and over the months, his headaches are better–less frequent and usually not as painful–but they are not gone. He may suffer from two or three headaches a week, but more often than not, he doesn’t need to take an Imitrex injection for relief.
You might think that this is not a very dramatic success story, as Scott is still suffering from the headaches and he still needs an injectable medication some of the time for the pain. However, Scott’s story actually is a success on a couple of levels.
First, Scott’s quality of life has improved. He is not in pain months at a time, nor is he in pain every day of the week. In fact, for some weeks on end, he may not experience any pain at all.
The greater success, however, is in terms of cost effectiveness. I went online to explore the cost of Imitrex injections. The Glaxo Smith website quoted the medication at $592 for a pack of five–$118 for each injection! Even shopping Canadian websites, the injectable Imitrex was $245 for a pack of five, or $49 for each injection.
This means that on a day when Scott has a headache and has to use the Imitrex for relief, it will cost him (or his insurance carrier) anywhere from $49 to $118 per dose. If he has a really bad headache and needs two to three injections, his medication is costing hundreds of dollars a day.
A single acupuncture treatment costs about $70. Scott’s weekly acuupncture treatment not only decreases the amount and intensity of his headaches, but also dramatically decreases the cost of his expensive medication–by hundreds of dollars a week.
Acupuncture can effectively treat many health conditions that don’t respond well to Western medicine, and in most cases it will also cost considerably less. If you’re suffering from a health condition, it may be time to try acupuncture, especially if you’re also considering your pocketbook.
*Names and identifying details have been changed.