What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, as a healing technique, has been studied and used for more than 2500 years. Using ancient scientific principles, acupuncture treats illness by bringing a person’s body back into harmony, balance and health.
How is Contemporary Medical Acupuncture different?
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture uses very thin needles inserted into specific points of the body to relieve pain and stimulate healing. These needles can be stimulated by hand or with a low frequency electricity (which feels like a heart pulsing). The therapeutic purpose may be to stop pain, improve function that may be lost due to injury, or even reset learned pain pathways in the brain, such as with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
Sometimes Contemporary Medical Acupuncture treatments result in disappearance of the symptoms, and other times results in permanent resolution of the dysfunction, especially when there has been an underlying dysfunction of the nervous system.
I often use acupuncture to help relieve painful symptoms and trigger points, but also to reset neurological pathways and proper firing of muscles by “resetting the system”. Often when there has been an injury and it has gone on long enough different muscles get “turned off” or do not function properly. Often 4-6 treatments in conjunction with rehabilitative exercises can get the body back into proper functioning allowing to build up optimal strength and stability.
How does Acupuncture work?
According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers are studying at least three possible explanations for how acupuncture works:
- Opioid release.
During acupuncture, endorphins that are part of your body’s natural pain-control system may be released into your central nervous system — your brain and spinal cord. This reduces pain much like taking a pain medication.
- Spinal cord stimulation.
Acupuncture may stimulate the nerves in your spinal cord to deliver to the brain, pain-suppressing chemicals and messages.
- Blood flow changes.
Acupuncture needles may increase the amount of blood flow in the area around the needle. The increased blood flow may supply additional nutrients or remove toxic substances, or both, promoting healing.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment?
Acupuncture therapy usually involves a series of weekly or biweekly visits. Each visit typically includes an examination and assessment of your current condition, the insertion of needles, and a discussion about self-care tips. An acupuncture visit generally lasts about 20- 30 minutes.
During acupuncture treatment, sterilized individually wrapped stainless steel needles are used once and then thrown away. Sometimes you may feel a brief, sharp sensation when the needle is inserted, but generally the procedure isn’t painful. It is common to feel a deep aching sensation when the needle reaches the right spot.
Conditions it can help
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
- Headaches & migraines
- Hip, knee and ankle pain (ITB syndrome, runner’s knee)
- Shoulder (rotator cuff)
- Elbow and wrist pain (golfer’s and tennis elbow)
It can also help with numerous internal disorders, including infertility and menopausal symptoms.
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture is a certification program taught at the McMaster University Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program to already licensed health care professionals such as chiropractors, physiotherapists and medical doctors who use it as a tool to complement their regular treatment protocols, dealing mainly with pain related disorders.