Acupuncture in modern medicine is a method of balancing the body’s energy by inserting needles under the skin at specific points along energy pathways (meridians), to prevent or cure diseases and/or disorders. Modern approaches recognize that needles inserted at acupuncture points induce biochemical changes in the body. Acupuncture is a safe, effective way to complement and enhance conventional medical treatment.
Acupuncture originated in China over 5000 years ago as an intrinsic part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The traditional Chinese believe that Qi (the energy of life) flows along meridians in our bodies, just as blood flows along blood vessels. In turn, these meridians or pathways are linked to specific internal organs and organ systems. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the uninterrupted, balanced flow of this energy keeps us alive and healthy. Similarly, if this life energy is impeded in any part of the body, disease (or dis-ease) results.
Acupuncture treatment involves the use of needles, which are inserted into specific sites along the meridians of the body to help correct or rebalance the flow of energy, consequently relieving pain and/or restoring health. Contemporary medical acupuncture is complementary to modern medical practice, rather than an alternative form of treatment. Acupuncture is integrated into conventional medical practice as a therapeutic modality used to encourage natural healing, reduce and/or relieve pain, and to improve function of affected areas of the body.
Contemporary medical acupuncture consists of stimulation of the peripheral nervous system with acupuncture needles for the therapeutic purpose of treating musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles through the skin and tissues at varying depths on specific points on the body, specifically penetrating the underlying structures such as muscles, nerves, ligaments, etc. The insertion of needles stimulates the body to produce endorphins, natural pain relieving chemicals in the body; there is no injection of any substance into the body.
What to do before an acupuncture treatment
- Have a light meal; if this is not possible, drink some juice.
- Do not consume alcohol for 4 hours prior to the treatment.
- If possible, do not take any pain killers or tranquilizers for 4 hours prior to the treatment.
- Do take your usual medication.
What to do after an acupuncture treatment
- Avoid strenuous activity for 2 days after treatment, even if you are now pain-free.
- Rest for a few hours when you go home.
- Delay taking any pain killers or tranquilizers for 1 hour after treatment.
- Be aware that occasionally, the symptoms may become worse before there is relief.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
If you are new to Acupuncture, we understand that you might have some questions. We are confident that we have the answers to your inquiries.
Below are the answers to the questions that are most commonly asked about acupuncture treatment. Should you have additional questions please feel free to contact us.
Question: What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Answer: Benefits of acupuncture may include:
- Pain relief
- Relaxation or sedation
- Immune enhancement
- Anti-inflammatory response
- Anti-allergic response
- Psychological response
- Decrease in muscle recovery time
- Homeostasis or regulatory effect
Question: What does a treatment feel like? Does it hurt?
Answer: When the needle is inserted into the skin, you may feel a slight sensation of pain similar to a mosquito bite. There may also be a feeling of numbness, heaviness, warmth, or slight pain in the affected area.
Question: Are there any complications of acupuncture?
Answer: Complications may include, but are not limited to:
- Pain – discomfort is usually minimal
- Bleeding – bleeding may occur occasionally upon the removal of the needle, and is generally limited to 1 or 2 drops
- Fainting – fainting or lightheadedness may occur before, during, or after the treatment; be sure to report these symptoms to your acupuncturist immediately
- Infection – the risk of infection is very rare, as only sterile, disposable needles of high quality surgical steel are used and the area to be treated is swabbed before insertion of the needle
- Pregnancy – treatment is not recommended in the first and third trimester
- Bruising – apply ice to the affected area
Question: When can I expect results? How many treatments will I need?
Answer: The number of treatments will vary with each individual and the condition being treated. Treatments usually last between 15-30 minutes. Relief may be immediate or within a few hours or a few days of treatment. Most patients notice an improvement after the first couple of treatments. If no improvement is experienced within 4-8 treatments, the overall changes expected may be minimal.
Question: What conditions can acupuncture be used to treat?
Answer: Acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal problems such as muscle strains, sprains, bruising, and others. It may also be used to treat systemic difficulties. Ask your acupuncturist if you have questions regarding your specific condition.