What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old system of medicine based on an ancient Chinese system of health care. It aims to prevent and cure specific diseases and conditions which is achieved by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture corrects imbalances by stimulating the body’s ability to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions. Acupuncture in Pickering and Scarborough also encourages the body to produce chemicals that decrease or eliminate painful sensations.
There are hundreds of acupuncture points along the body’s 14 major meridians, or energy-carrying channels. Sixteenth century Chinese doctors used the term “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) to describe the energy that circulates through meridians. The belief is that illness is caused by a disruption of Qi, which leads to an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture can correct this energy disruption.
There are many theories as to how acupuncture actually works. When acupuncture points are stimulated, it causes a dull ache or other sensations in the muscle. One theory holds that the stimulated muscle and sensory neurons send a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (naturally produced pain killers) and other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses), which help block the message of pain from being delivered to the brain and have other regulatory effects as well.
Other experts believe that acupuncture works by transmitting signals via the fascia. Fascia is like a thin sheath that surrounds all of the body’s muscles. Some acupuncturists consider the meridians to represent myofascial chains – which helps explain why stimulating an acupuncture point in the lower leg can affect the back or other areas. Interestingly, research shows that acupuncture points have a lower electrical resistivity than surrounding areas. In a practical sense, the meridian system provides a navigable energetic map of the body for acupuncturists to locate and treat many conditions.
What is the scope of acupuncture?
Pickering Acupuncture influences 4 areas of your health:
- Treatment of muscular, neurological and medical conditions
- Relief of pain
- Promotion of health + well-being
- Prevention of illness
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders.
The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of problems, including:
- Muscular and neurological disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis.
- Digestive disorders: gastritis, and hyper-acidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea.
- Respiratory disorders: Sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections.
- Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.
Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions.
What happens during acupuncture treatment?
After your condition is discussed, the Pickering Acupuncturist will examine you for reactive areas to determine which points to use. Acupuncture needles are sterile, pre-packaged, disposable, and hair-thin. The needles are placed at various depths, ranging from a fraction of an inch to two inches. Wear loose fitting clothing (gowns are provided), as you will have to partially disrobe in order to receive acupuncture. Exercise good hygiene but don’t come heavily perfumed as many patients have chemical sensitivities. After the needles are inserted and stimulated, they stay in place from a few minutes up to 20 minutes.
In a treatment series, the acupuncturist will use different combinations of points and different needling techniques. These combinations help stimulate new sources of healing as the patient’s response to treatment is observed.
What conditions are treated with acupuncture?
Although acupuncture is not a “cure-all” treatment, it is very effective in treating several diseases and conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Back + Neck muscle pain
- Spastic Colon
- Facial Pain
- Immune system fatigue
- Repetitive strain conditions
For certain conditions, such as cancer, acupuncture should be performed in combination with other treatments.
Do the needles hurt?
You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but it is much less than the prick you feel during an injection, since the needles are much thinner with a smooth point.
A feeling of deep heaviness, numbness or tingling called “Deqi” (pronounced duh chee) means the treatment is working.
Is acupuncture safe?
Absolutely. When performed with medical grade disposable needles under clean, sterile conditions, it is highly unusual to have any complications.
One of the great advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is significantly lower than that of most drugs or common medical procedures used to treat the same conditions.
How often should I be treated with acupuncture?
The number of treatments required depends on your condition and response to treatment. One acupuncture session can result in temporary relief of pain however 1 or 2 sessions a week for a 1 to 2 month treatment cycle is often sufficient. Your practitioner will discuss with you during your first session.
Does the medical field approve of acupuncture?
Yes. There are more than 16,000 licensed acupuncturists in the United States and 3,000 physicians who perform acupuncture as part of their medical practice. The World Health Organization currently recognizes more than 40 medical problems — including pain, gastrointestinal, gynecological, and respiratory conditions as well as sports injuries — can be helped by acupuncture treatment. Lastly, in 1996 the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) reclassified acupuncture needles, regulating them as it does other medical devices. Acupuncture needles most now be manufactured according to single-use standards of sterility and are intended for general use by qualified practitioners.
Will my insurance policy cover acupuncture treatment?
Some insurance companies will pay for acupuncture treatment. Because each insurance provider has different restrictions, it is best to consult with your provider to determine if your treatment will be covered.