Acupuncture is a therapeutic method used to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body.  Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine disposable needles through the skin and tissues at specific Acupuncture points on the body.  Anatomical Acupuncture refers to a more modern approach taken by the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada (AFC).  This form of Acupuncture combines the knowledge of anatomy, physiology and patho-physiology to increase its effectiveness.

Modern technology has allowed variations in acupuncture treatment.  Electro-acupuncture involves stimulation of inserted needles with gentle electrical impulses.  Rubber electrodes or moistened cotton-tipped applicators can also be used to deliver electrical stimulation to acupuncture points (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or T.E.N.S.).  Low-power laser may also be used instead of needles to stimulate appropriate points.

How does Acupuncture work?

Western medicine believes that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called “endorphins".  Endorphins help to block pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body's own internal regulation systems.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates the body's natural healing abilities, reducing inflammation, and promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Does it hurt?

People experience differing sensations with acupuncture. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all.  Once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort.

Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and are made from stainless steel.  Two or three acupuncture needles would fit inside the barrel of a regular hollow needle used for injections.

Are there any adverse effects or risks to the treatment?

One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort.

The AFC requires that only sterile disposable needles be used, preventing any risk of infection. In particular, there is no possibility of transmission of the AIDS or hepatitis viruses when sterile disposable needles are used.

How many treatments will be required?

The number of treatments will vary with each individual and the condition being treated. For acute problems, only a few treatments may be required. In some cases, one treatment will be sufficient.

For complex or longstanding conditions, one or two treatments a week for several weeks may be recommended with less frequent treatments as improvement occurs.  Treatment sessions usually last between 15 and 30 minutes. Relief may be immediate or occur within a few hours or days.

Acupuncture can be used as the only form of therapy or it may be combined successfully with other forms of medical or physical therapy.

Do I have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals.  A positive attitude towards wellness may reinforce the effects of any type of treatment.  A neutral or negative attitude will not block the effects of acupuncture.

Is there any special advice to follow before an Acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture treatment can be done at any time.  Patients are advised not to eat unusually large meals before or after treatment.  It is best to avoid alcohol or sedatives for four hours prior to treatment.  Pain medications may be taken as required.

In Chinese terms, how does Acupuncture work?

Over 500 years ago, the Chinese theorized that the body had an energy force, known as Qi (pronounced Chee) running throughout it.  The Qi consists of all essential life activities, which include the spiritual, emotional, mental, and the physical aspects of life.  A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the universal focus of Yin and Yang.  If the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted, Yin and Yang become unbalanced, and illness may occur.  Qi travels throughout the body along “Meridians”.  The Meridians (or Channels) are the same on both sides of the body (paired).  The acupuncture points are specific locations where the Meridians come to the surface of the skin, and are easily accessible by “needling” or acupressure.  The connections between them ensure that there is an even circulation of Qi, a balance between Yin and Yang.

Energy constantly flows up and down these pathways.  When pathways become obstructed, deficient, excessive, or just unbalanced, Yin and Yang are said to be thrown out of balance.  This causes illness.  Acupuncture is said to restore the balance.