When hearing about acupuncture for the first time, many people have thought, ‘how could putting needles into my skin possibly make me feel good?’ or ‘doesn’t it hurt?’. The truth is that acupuncture is not the painful procedure you may imagine. While there is a chance that you may feel a slight prick, it is less painful than poking yourself with a sewing needle or having your blood drawn. In addition, especially when performed by a qualified professional, acupuncture has minimal side effects.
Acupuncture is a nerve stimulation technique that uses fine needles, manipulation, and sometimes mild electrical stimulation for a therapeutic purpose. Using disposable and sterile needles, no thicker than a strand of hair, they are inserted into specific points on the face and body. These needles create stimulation in the skin and result in putting the body into repair mode. The function of this mode is to stimulate your lymphatic and circulatory systems.
Traditional acupuncture follows the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of energy, or “Qi”. This constant flow through the body is what keeps our internal forces balanced. Sometimes, the flow of Qi can become blocked, which results in a lack of function, pain, or illness. Acupuncture can release this blockage through stimulation and evoke the body’s natural healing process.
The placement of the needles follows the network of pathways or meridians in the body, which are connected to the function of muscles, nerves, joints, tendons, and internal organs. Within the body, 361 acupuncture points exist along the meridians/pathways. They are situated in all areas of the body; sometimes, the points to appropriately address your pain are far removed from the site where you feel the pain.
Acupuncture is a commonly used complementary therapy that can help people to manage numerous conditions. It can effectively be combined with other treatments and carries a low risk of side effects. It is highly effective when used to manage chronic pain. There have been many studies that have compared the use of acupuncture and a placebo.
There have also been many studies on how acupuncture can effectively treat neck, low back and shoulder pain, headaches/migraines, osteoarthritis, stress, insomnia, nausea, TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Pain, and fibromyalgia.
Styles of Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be offered from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or a contemporary medical approach. Each style has a different purpose, and at Durand Health, we have practitioners trained in both types.
Acupuncturists who follow the more traditional/ancient Chinese method focus on directing the “flow of Qi”, or energy through the body.
Contemporary medical acupuncture is designed to help treat any condition through specific acupuncture needle insertions, with or without electrical stimulation. Targeting muscles, joints, and nerves throughout the body to help promote healing and regulation of the injured area. Contemporary acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other treatment modalities.
Preparing for Your Treatment
We advise you to refrain from alcohol consumption for 24 hours before and after your appointment. Any vigorous exercise 2 hours before and after your treatment is also not recommended. You should also wear casual and comfortable clothes.
What Happens During Your Treatment?
Any practitioner who performs acupuncture has their own unique style. During your appointment, your practitioner will discuss your health history, symptoms, behaviours, lifestyle, concerns, and the best approach to address your needs. You will then lay on a comfortable, padded table for the treatment. A complete acupuncture treatment will consist of:
– Needle Insertion. The sterile needles are inserted (at various depths) into specific acupuncture points on the body.
– Needle Manipulation. The practitioner may gently move, apply heat, or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
– Needle Removal. The needles will remain in place while you lay still and relax. There is typically no discomfort when acupuncture needles are removed.
How Does Acupuncture Feel?
While there is a chance that you may feel a slight prick, it is less painful than poking yourself with a sewing needle or having your blood drawn. This is because acupuncture needles are about as thick as a strand of hair, much thinner than medical needles.
The experience of acupuncture will be different for everyone. However, the treatment is not meant to hurt. Once a needle has been inserted, you will likely feel a dull ache or slight tingling sensation. It is also common for feelings of warmth to arise at the insertion points. This can vary based on your level and overall sensitivity. It has been noted that your first treatment can be more uncomfortable than follow-up treatments. This occurs because energy points on the body are activated for the first time.
It is also essential to be aware that specific points on the body will be more sensitive than others. For example, acupuncture points on your extremities are likely to produce stronger reactions in the form of dull aches or tingling. Points where there is less flesh, such as parts of the face, near the nails, can sometimes result in a sharper sensation. Most often, these feelings will be short-lived and last a few seconds.
Finding an Acupuncturist
At Durand Health, acupuncture is offered by:
Spring Shen, Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac) & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCMP)
Sophia Bolos, Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) & Registered TCM Acupuncturist (R. Ac)
Dr. Greg Bolger, Chiropractor (D.C.) & Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Provider