Medical Acupuncture has become a huge part of my practice due to its ability to treat a variety of conditions non-invasively. Over the last 20 years there has been conclusive evidence recognizing the effectiveness of acupuncture. In fact, in the summer of 2000, Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital opened an acupuncture clinic in its Wasser Pain Management Centre to treat patients suffering from chronic pain.
Medical research has found it to be effective for treating:
- Chronic back and neck pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Tennis and golfers elbow
- Various sprains and strains
- Sports Injuries
- Stress reduction
At the same time it helps to nourish muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments by improving overall circulation to these structures and the entire body. It can be a great tool to improve health and prevent the development of various illnesses.
Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. It is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. As part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi (vital energy) and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by the insertion of thin metal needles though the skin and aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of these specific points.
Within TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. According to TCM, health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state”; disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Acupuncture works by achieving a balance of your body’s ying and yang forces, thereby allowing the body to return to a balanced/healthy state.
Here are some questions frequently asked in my office:
Does acupuncture hurt?
When people try acupuncture for the first time, they’re typically surprised by how much it doesn’t hurt. Acupuncture does not feel anything like vaccination or a blood test.
Acupuncture needles are very thin and flexible and most people find the insertion almost painless. There can be a pricking sensation when the needle is first inserted, but people usually feel very little. Once the needles are in place in the body, there may be a sensation around the needle – usually one of heaviness or pressure, achiness, warmth or tingling. I have learned that each individual experiences something different and there is no method in predicting what one might feel or not feel. Most people however, find that the body goes into a very relaxed and balanced state. It is very common for people to fall sound asleep during the treatment. The removal of the needles is usually painless as well.
Will I bleed?
Acupuncture does not normally cause any bleeding, on rare occasions there may be a little bleeding under the skin, causing a bruise that usually disappears in a day or two. Occasionally you may notice that the needles leave small marks resembling mosquito bites.
Where do the needles go?
There are many styles of acupuncture, several “micro-systems” of acupuncture, and many theories on how to pick the location of points to use to treat a given problem. And they all work! There are thousands of acupuncture points on the body. Some are mapped on the meridians and some are single “experience” points that have been documented to have a specific effect for a specific problem. Each point is designed to encourage circulation to a specified area of the body. With an increase in circulation comes and increase in nutrients, oxygen and overall energy to that area.
How long is an acupuncture session?
Once you’re condition has been diagnosed, your specific treatment will usually take between 15-25 minutes. The initial treatment may take longer, up to an hour, as there are medical forms to be completed and a physical examination will need to be conducted.
It is recommended that you do not engage in strenuous activity following a session, as you may feel tired or lethargic directly after the treatment. This is because your body has been in a state of relaxation and may need time to re-energize.
Do all chiropractors perform acupuncture?
No. To become a licensed acupuncturist requires additional training and examination. Before you have any acupuncture treatments, make sure your health care professional is licensed by the province of Ontario.
Is Acupuncture covered by extended health insurance?
There are a handful of health plans that do cover acupuncture separately from other therapies. If not, it is generally billed under chiropractic treatments in our office. I advise my patients to contact their insurance carriers to see if they have coverage.