General Acupuncture Information
- A therapeutic approach to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body.
- Safe and effective alternative to medications or surgery.
- Involves the insertion of very fine needles through the skin and tissues at specific points related to anatomical structures involved in your problem.
- Treatment itself causes minimal discomfort.
- Originated in China for treating pain and disease by claiming to balance energy and blood in the body to keep it functional and healthy.
- Over recent years western trained therapists utilize their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and patho-physiology to effectively apply acupuncture.
How Does It Work?
- Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce a chemical known as “endorphins”
- Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killing chemical and imitate morphine providing pain relief, general relaxation, and biochemical restoration of the body’s own internal regulation systems.
- Improved energy and biochemical balance as a result from acupuncture stimulates the body’s healing abilities, reduces inflammation, and promotes physical and emotional well being.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
- Acupuncture can treat both acute and chronic conditions effectively.
- The World Health Organization has acknowledged the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of multiple medical problems including:
- Digestive disorders: gastritis, hyperacidity, spastic bowel, constipation, diarrhea
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, neck and back pain, neuralgia, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, tendonitis, sciatica, arthritis
- Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders
- Addiction, insomnia
- It is important that an assessment and correct diagnosis is made by a qualified health care professional before any decisions are made regarding the course of therapy and whether or not acupuncture is appropriate for you.
Are there any risks to treatment?
- There are very minimal adverse effects and complications from the use of acupuncture.
- People with pacemakers should avoid acupuncture combined with electrical stimulation unless approved by their cardiologist.
- Women in early pregnancy and haemophiliacs should be treated with caution.
- The Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute (AFCI) recommends that only sterile disposable needles be used, preventing risk of infection.
Does it Hurt?
- The acupuncture experience differs between individuals.
- Majority of patients experience only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted, others feel no discomfort at all.
- No significant discomfort should be experienced once the needles are in place.
- The needles used are extremely fine (2-3 can fit inside the barrel of a regular hollow needle used for injections) and are made from stainless steel.
How many treatments are required and how long is each session?
- This depends on the condition being treated and the individual.
- For acute problems, only a few treatments may be necessary.
- For complex or chronic conditions, 1-2 treatments per week for several weeks may be recommended with decreasing frequency of treatments as the condition improves.
- A treatment session involving acupuncture usually lasts between 15-30 minutes.
- Some people may experience worsening of symptoms at first but relief can be immediate, occur within a few hours, or even after a few days.
- Sometimes, several sessions are required before improvement is noted.
- As reported by AFCI, approximately 80% - 90% of patients respond to acupuncture with significant results.
- Acupuncture can be used solely or in combination with forms of medical and or physical therapies.
Do I have to believe in it for acupuncture to work?
- Acupuncture is reportedly used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals.
- Obviously, these simulated patients can not understand the process that helps their condition improve.
- Positive attitudes towards any treatment may reinforce the effects, but a neutral or negative attitude will not hamper the effects of acupuncture.
- Acupuncture treatment may occur at any time during the day.
- It is ideal if you do not consume large meals before or after treatment.
- It is recommended that you avoid alcohol or sedatives for four hours prior to treatment.
- Pain medications may be taken as required.
What about after treatment?
- Rest after treatment is ideal but not required.
- Some patients feel excessively relaxed afterwards so you may want to plan your activities for the day accordingly.
- Strong exercise is not recommended immediately after treatment.
- Avoiding strenuous activity for 48 hours after treatment is best for painful conditions.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes for at least two hours.
- Medications may be taken as required.
The above is based on a brochure provided by the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute and is available for patients interested in acupuncture.