By JENNIFER McDERMOTT, DAKE KANG and MIKE STOBBE
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Acupuncture is increasingly being embraced by patients and doctors, sometimes as an alternative to the powerful painkillers behind the nation's opioid crisis.
Although it has been long derided as pseudoscience and still questioned by many medical experts, a small but growing number of Medicaid programs in states hit hard by opioid overdoses have started providing it for low-income patients.
The military and Veterans Affairs medical system has been offering acupuncture for pain for several years.
Acupuncture is seen as a way to help keep some patients from ever having to go on opioids for pain.
Federal research evaluators say there's some evidence acupuncture can help manage some forms of pain. But they also have described the benefits of acupuncture as modest, and say more research is needed.