What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific points in the body. It is sometimes done with manual or electrical stimulation. 

There are two approaches to acupuncture which sometimes overlap. Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on a belief that the needles stimulate energy flow in the body. Western Medical acupuncture adapts the traditional Chinese approach and applies a scientific method to understand and explain its effects. It combines a knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology to enhance the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is most effective when used in combination with exercise therapy, traditional therapy and medication. It should be used in combination with other therapy treatments.

 

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture produces physiological changes in nerves, muscles, connective tissue (fascia), hormones and circulation. By stimulating specific points, acupuncture releases the body’s own painkillers: endorphin and dynorphin. Endorphins help to block pathways in the nervous system that send pain signals from the body to the brain resulting in pain relief, relaxation and restoration of the body’s regulation systems.

Acupuncture stimulates natural healing in the body as well as reducing inflammation and promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Common Conditions Treated

  • Headaches
  • Neck & Back Pain
  • Muscle Injuries
  • Neuralgia
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Tendinitis
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis

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Anatomical Acupuncture/Dry Needling

Anatomical acupuncture is based on the theories and techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but is used primarily to treat musculoskeletal conditions commonly seen in a physiotherapy and massage clinic. It is a way of using acupuncture points to affect specific muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and soft tissues.

What to Expect

The number and location of needles used will vary based on your condition and treatment goals. Some notice the effects of treatment on their first visit, while others may need 5-8 treatments to see better results. Some pain or discomfort may be experienced with needle insertion or movement.

Important Considerations

It is not recommended that pregnant women or anyone with blood clotting disorders be treated with anatomical acupuncture. Acupuncture should be avoided in areas of recent total joint replacement and any blood borne diseases should be disclosed to the therapist prior to the use of needles of any kind.

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)/Dry Needling

IMS/Dry Needling works on multiple processes within the muscle. First, a relaxation reflex effect causing a muscle to lengthen occurs when the stretch receptor in the muscle is stimulated. The needle causes a small injury in the muscle which stimulates the natural healing process. Finally, the electrical potential created in the muscle helps the nerve to function normally again.

What to Expect

  • The number and location of needles used will vary based on your condition and treatment goals.
  • Most people experience different sensations ranging from no pain at all to very uncomfortable
  • If the muscle is sensitive, shortened or has active trigger points, you will feel a sensation similar to a muscle cramp or twitch.
  • Post treatment soreness is anticipated: often described as muscle soreness, fatigue or heaviness.
  • Number of treatments needed will differ, a fewer number are usually needed for acute injuries, with more treatment necessary for chronic conditions.

Important Considerations

  • IMS is not recommended for pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Areas around the low back and pelvis are avoided during the entire pregnancy, but other extremities can be treated after the first trimester.
  • IMS is avoided for 12 weeks post-operatively in the area of the surgery or with a wound.
  • Individuals taking anti-coagulants must have a stable INR test in order to consider IMS as a treatment.
  • Any blood borne diseases should be disclosed to the therapist prior to use

ACUPUNCTURE & IMS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How is IMS different from Anatomical Acupuncture?
IMS treats the dysfunction in the muscles, opposed to anatomical acupuncture which treats muscuskeletal conditions. This often involves the needle going deeper into the muscle belly to elicit a twitch response to deactivate a trigger point and release the muscle to decrease neural sensitivity.

 

Does it hurt?

Most people experience different sensations with acupuncture ranging from no pain at all to marked discomfort while the needles are being inserted. It is normal to feel an ache when the needles are fully inserted.

 

How many treatments are needed?
The amount of treatments vary with each client and with which condition is being treated. For acute treatments one or a few sessions may be all that is needed. Whereas more complex conditions may need one to two treatments per week for several weeks.

 

What should I do before treatment?
It is recommended to eat but not consume unusually large meals, alcohol or sedatives prior to treatments.

 

What should I do after treatment?
A short rest period after treatment is recommended but not required. Strong, intense exercise immediately after treatment is not recommended. Alcohol, cigarettes and high caffeine beverages should be avoided for at least two hours. Any regular medications should be taken as directed by your physician.