Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Consumer advisory

Does your chiropractor also do acupuncture? If so, ask them about their training. Did you know...


• Because under Texas law chiropractic does not include incisive procedures, and because Attorney General Dan Morales in Opinion DM-415 had previously determined that chiropractic does not encompass the practice of acupuncture, in 1997, just four years after acupuncture became a licensed and regulated profession in Texas, chiropractic advocates persuaded the Texas Legislature to redefine acupuncture in the Acupuncture Chapter of the Texas Occupations Code as the "nonincisive, nonsurgical insertion of an acupuncture needle". Nowhere else in the world is acupuncture defined this way.

• Morales then reversed course in 1998 with opinion DM-471 which reasoned that  acupuncture - as newly defined -  could now be construed as within the chiropractic scope of practice if the Chiropractic and Acupuncture statutes were read as one. This was the status quo for almost twenty years until TAAOM sued the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) in 2014, and the Third Court of Appeals in 2016 determined that the Chiropractic Board using the Acupuncture Chapter as a basis of expanded authority around acupuncture was not a legitimate interpretation of statute. Absent being able to point to the definition of acupuncture in the Acupuncture Chapter, it is unclear by what authority the Chiropractic Board is authorized to allow its licensees to engage in the practice of acupuncture without an acupuncture license.

•  The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners adopted rules around acupuncture in 2009, including the requirement of a paltry 100 hours training with no clinical component. In 2019 TBCE replaced this rule with a new acupuncture rule which now requires an unspecified clinical component. The Chiropractic Board declined to increase the standard of training, despite having acknowledged that 100 hours was insufficient and would need to be increased when the original 2009 rule was implemented. Additionally, while the 2009 rule represented chiropractic training in acupuncture as "post-graduate", in fact students of chiropractic are allowed to study acupuncture as "continuing education" when half way through chiropractic school. It is unclear how the new clinical component of the TBCE acupuncture rule is fufilled as statute does not allow chiropractic students to engage in any clinical practice that is outside the chiropractic curriculum (acupuncture is not part of the Council on Chiropractic Education accredited curriculum).

• TAAOM has made efforts to get the Chiropractic Board to require any chiropractic licensees practicing acupuncture to, at the very least, be required to disclose their level of training to patients since TBCE has promulgated such an irregular regulatory structure as pertains to acupuncture.

•  If your chiropractor is a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture be aware that this is a 105 hour training, the bulk of which can be done online.

•  There are various programs available offering diplomate status in acupuncture to chiropractors. These programs range from 205 hours to 300 hours. Some require a board exam, some do not. Some chiropractors mistakenly represent themselves as diplomates after taking the NBCE exam, even though the NBCE very specifically does not confer diplomate status.

•  Some of these short programs also include a few hours in Chinese herbal medicine. A licensed acupuncturist in Texas is required by law to have 450 hours of classroom training in Chinese herbology, plus clinical hours. Acupuncture is part of the broader field of Oriental Medicine, which is what your Licensed Acupuncturist is trained in. It is not innately part of Chiropractic.

•  While the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners has claimed authority to regulate the practice of acupuncture, they do not actually know how many or which chiropractors are performing acupuncture, or with what level of training.

• In February 2014 the Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine filed suit against the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, challenging their authority to adopt rules regulating the practice of acupuncture.

• August 2016 the Third Court of Appeals issued an Opinion which invalidates the legal rationale of DM-471, but falls short of voiding TBCE rules adopted based on this rationale.