Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that has been used for centuries in China. It involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body.
Acupuncture is said to be effective for a variety of symptoms and conditions, including pain, anxiety, and depression. There is some evidence to support these claims, but more research is needed.
A Brief History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is thought to have originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It was first mentioned in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, a text that is considered to be the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture spread to other parts of Asia and then to Europe and the Americas. In the United States, it was popularized in the 1970s by James Reston, a journalist who wrote about his experiences with acupuncture after undergoing emergency surgery in China.
Acupuncture today is widely accepted in western medicine as a complementary and alternative medicine. It is used to treat various conditions and symptoms.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture works are not fully understood. It is thought that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and releases chemicals in the brain that affect pain levels.
Acupuncture is generally considered to be safe when performed by a trained professional. Complications are rare, but they can include bruising, bleeding, and infections.
If you are considering acupuncture for any reason, be sure to consult with your doctor first to discuss the risks and potential benefits.
What Does Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture is said to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including:
- Relieve pain: Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in relieving pain, including headaches, neck pain, dental pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and chronic low back pain.
- Help cancer patients: Acupuncture can help treat pain for those undergoing cancer treatment.
- Chronic pain: Chronic pain can last from months to sometimes years and acupuncture has helped those experiencing chronic pain.
- Anxiety: Acupuncture has been shown to reduce anxiety levels and improve the quality of life in people with anxiety disorders.
- Depression: Acupuncture may be effective in treating depression, although more research is needed.
- Addiction: Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating addiction, including alcoholism and to facilitate smoking cessation.
What to Expect During an Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture treatments are typically done in a relaxed setting. You will lie down on a comfortable table and the acupuncturist will insert needles into specific points on your body.
The needles are usually left in place for 20-30 minutes. During this time, you may experience a tingling sensation. Some people find acupuncture treatments to be relaxing, while others find them to be slightly uncomfortable.
After the treatment, the needles will be removed and you will be able to return to your normal activities.
What Happens to Your Body After Treatment?
After an acupuncture session, your body may feel more relaxed and your pain levels may be reduced. It is important to drink plenty of water after treatment to help flush out any toxins that have been released.
It is not uncommon to experience some bruising or soreness at the needle sites. This should resolve within a few days.
If you have any concerns about your treatments, be sure to speak with your acupuncturist.
How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
The cost of acupuncture varies depending on the practitioner and the location. In general, treatments range from $50-$100 per session. Some insurance plans cover acupuncture, so check with your provider to see if you are covered.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained professional. Complications are rare, but they can include bruising, bleeding, and infections.
If you are considering acupuncture for any reason, be sure to consult with your physiotherapist or acupuncturist first to discuss the risks and potential benefits.
When Shouldn’t Acupuncture Be Used?
There are certain times when acupuncture should not be used. If you have any of the following conditions, please consult with your physiotherapist or acupuncturist before scheduling an appointment:
- Bleeding disorders
- Infectious diseases
- Severe mental disorders
What Are Acupuncture Needles Used For?
Acupuncture needles are typically made of stainless steel and are thin, solid, and hair-like. They vary in length depending on the area being treated. The needles are inserted into the skin at specific points on the body to stimulate healing.
Do Acupuncture Needles Hurt?
Acupuncture needles are very thin and are unlikely to cause pain when inserted into the skin. Some people may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but this should not be painful.
If you experience any pain during your treatment, please let your acupuncturist know so they can adjust the needle accordingly.
Is There Proof Acupuncture is Effective?
There is a growing body of evidence to support the efficacy of acupuncture for various conditions. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
Several clinical studies have concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain, including lower back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in treating migraines, headaches, and menstrual cramps.
In addition, acupuncture has been shown to be helpful in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
What Are The Different Forms of Acupuncture?
There are several different forms of acupuncture, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, and electroacupuncture.
TCM acupuncture is based on the belief that energy, or qi, flows through the body along specific pathways. This energy can become blocked, causing illness and pain. Acupuncture is used to unblock this energy and restore balance to the body.
Japanese acupuncture is a more gentle form of treatment that uses thinner needles than TCM acupuncture. The needles are also inserted shallower into the skin.
Electroacupuncture is a type of acupuncture that uses electrical stimulation to stimulate the points in the body. This form of treatment is often used for pain relief.
How Long Does Acupuncture Treatment Take?
Acupuncture treatment typically takes 30-60 minutes. During your appointment, you will be asked to lie down on a comfortable table. Your acupuncturist will then insert the needles into specific points on your body.
After the needles have been inserted, you may be left alone for a few minutes to allow the treatment to take effect. Once the time is up, your acupuncturist will remove the needles and give you a brief massage.
How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
The number of treatments you will need depends on the condition being treated. For chronic conditions, you may need 3-4 treatments per week for several weeks or months. For acute conditions, you may only need 1-2 treatments.
Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
Acupuncture is often covered by insurance. We direct bill to your insurance company.
Can anyone perform acupuncture?
No. In order to perform acupuncture, practitioners must complete a rigorous education and training program. In Canada, physiotherapists are registered and regulated by their provincial college to perform acupuncture. Physiotherapists must submit sufficient documentation to support their training and proficiency in performing acupuncture.
What should I expect during my first treatment?
During your first treatment, your acupuncturist will take a detailed medical history. They will also ask about your current condition and symptoms. This information will help them to create a customized treatment plan for you.
Your acupuncturist will then insert the needles into specific points on your body. After the needles have been inserted, you may be left alone for a few minutes to allow the treatment to take effect. Once the time is up, your acupuncturist will remove the needles and give you a brief massage.
Are there any risks associated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment when performed by a licensed and trained practitioner. Complications are rare but can include bruising, soreness, or infection at the needle sites.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for pain, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. If you are considering acupuncture treatment, be sure to consult with a licensed and trained practitioner.
If you have any questions about acupuncture or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. We would be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about acupuncture treatment.
Thank you for reading! We hope this article has been helpful in answering some of your questions about acupuncture. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The Mayo Clinic article on acupuncture.
John Hopkins hospital article on what is acupuncture.
About the Author
Juliana Bergin PT is a certified physiotherapist and one of the owners of Bergin Motion. Bergin Motion is a family-run Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic located in Barrie’s Southend. Juliana specializes in orthopedic injuries. Juliana works with high-end athletes as well as weekend warriors. Juliana is part of a team at Bergin Motion in Barrie, Ontario that works with all kinds of conditions.
About Bergin Motion
The clinic in Barrie specializes in orthopedic, neurological, and pelvic health disciplines.
Bergin Motion treats clients both at their clinic and in the comfort of their own home if they cannot travel to the clinic.
Located in the south end of Barrie, Ontario, the physio clinic boasts 9000 sq. ft., with seven treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym.