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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment modality that can be used to reduce pain, promote healing, and improve function.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the body at specific 'acupuncture points".

Anatomical Acupuncture is the technique practiced by most western medical practitioners, including physiotherapists.  This method combines the traditional knowledge of acupuncture points along with modern knowledge of the anatomy of the body and how this relates to injury.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

 Acupuncture stimulates the body to release natural painkilling hormones, called endorphins.  The subsequent reduction in pain allows tense muscles to relax, increases circulation to the area, reduces inflammation, and promotes healing.

What Conditions can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture can be used to treat acute and chronic conditions, including:

  • Headaches
  • Neck and Back Pain
  • Referred pain such as sciatica
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Tendonitis and other overuse injuries
  • Arthritis

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Generally, acupuncture does not hurt.  You may feel the needle pass through the skin, and sometimes what is usually described as a 'zinging' sensation.  Once the needles are in place, it is rare to feel anything.

Are there any reasons why I shouldn't have Acupuncture?

Anatomical acupuncturists usually choose not to perform acupuncture on someone who is pregnant or who suffers from seizures.  Extra care needs to be taken with haemophiliacs, as well as clients taking blood thinners, who have osteoporosis, who are diabetic or who have received treatment for cancer.

 What are the Risks of Acupuncture Treatment?

There are very few risks involved with acupuncture treatment.  Acupuncture can lower blood sugar, so it is wise to have had a light meal prior to treatment.  You may get a small bruise where the needle was located.  Some people feel fatiqued following treatment, while others feel refreshed and full of energy.  Everyone reacts in a slightly different way to treatment.

How Many Treatments will be Required?

The number of treatments will vary from person to person.  It is affected by the individual and the chronicity of the injury.  It is expected that improvements will be noted within six treatments, and treatment can continue for as long as it is effective.  When improvements are maintained, treatment frequency can be reduced.

 What else will my physiotherapist do for me?

Along with acupuncture treatment, your physiotherapist will often teach you a program of exercises and stretches to carry out at home.  Your physiotherapist may also use other manual therapy techniques, use heat or ice, or recommend you also see a Registered Massage Therapist.


Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute