MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Acupuncture can be a great stress and pain reliever. But there’s a prickly side to it that’s commonly felt in the pocketbook region.

Acupuncturist Kerri Casey of Minnesota Community Acupuncture saw that as a problem.

“If you have to come two or three times a week, who can afford $65 three times a week? It’s a very limited group of people and I knew I couldn’t afford it,” Casey said. “And I said, ‘If I can’t afford acupuncture, how are other people gonna afford that?'”

Taking a cue from an office in Portland, she decided to offer needle therapy campfire-style to a room full of Minnesotans in Lazy Boys.

Eden Prairie resident Sharon Karkanen finds relief for her swollen joints, and finances, at Casey’s clinic.

“I could have never of afforded to go where they charge $75 to $150 a treatment,” Karkanen said.

The group sessions mean less overhead, but they are a public affair, so Kerri uses music to drown out private medical details.

“By giving up that privacy, we will charge less,” Casey said.

Here, it’s an honor system where customers pay $15 -$40 or whatever they can afford. Some offer to pay even more.

“That’s why we call it community, because the patients are helping each other out,” she said.

Kerri says it’s a business model that works for Minnesotans who are trying to make a living and feel good while doing it.

“Keeps my energy up, my health good. I can’t say enough great things about acupuncture,” Karkanen said.

Kerri says acupuncture isn’t a catch-all for every ailment, and she often refers clients to doctors.

The average price for a week of treatments at Minnesota Community Acupuncture is about $30 – $50 a week as opposed to $250 at the average clinics.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield