What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine that has been used for thousands of years. It was developed to improve the body’s overall function by encouraging natural healing of the tissues, reducing pain and inflammation, as well as restoring physiological balance. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is believed that in order for the body to function optimally, the flow of the body’s energy, ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’), and blood must be balanced. The disruption of Qi is responsible for imbalances in the body. Acupuncture involves inserting and manipulating very fine needles into the skin at certain points along channels called meridians in order to correct these imbalances. No drug is injected. The needles themselves create the beneficial effects.
It is believed that these Qi pathways, called meridians, can be blocked and cause illness. Pain, inflammation and weakness result from the slowing or blocking of the flow of Qi. Using acupuncture at specific points is believed to restore the optimal Qi and help the person restore their health.
Acupuncture also stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals, endorphins. They help to block pathways in the body that relay pain signals from different parts of the body to the brain. This results in overall relaxation and relief of pain.
Common conditions that can be treated with acupuncture include:
What is acupuncture like?
It is a completely individual experience and people can experience acupuncture differently. Most patients report little sensation or only minimal pain while the needles are inserted. Some do not feel any pain. When the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. The point of the acupuncture needle is smooth, unlike a hypodermic needle that is hollow with cutting edges. Only disposable (single-use), stainless steel needles are used so this procedure is safe and there is no risk of infection.
Before and After Acupuncture
It is recommended to avoid alcohol or sedatives for 4 hours prior to your acupuncture treatment. Patients should not eat unusually large meals before or after treatment, but should also not come on an empty stomach. After acupuncture treatment, avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes for at least 2 hours, and strong exercise for at least 24 hours.
Is acupuncture right for me?
Patients will go through a special assessment with the physiotherapist in order to determine if this modality is appropriate for your pain and injury. Acupuncture is not recommended if you are pregnant or a hemophiliac. Also, please inform the physiotherapist if you are taking an anti-coagulant medication.