After being practiced in China for thousands of years, acupuncture is now used around the world to treat all manner of health issues. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers this ancient form of medicine an effective treatment for about 30 diseases, symptoms and conditions, including: low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, sprains, tennis elbow, headaches, facial pain, and others. This makes acupuncture an excellent complement to physiotherapy treatments.
How it works
Those who perform acupuncture insert needles into the skin at very specific locations on the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this practice reduces pain and promotes healing by regulating the flow of energy (known as ‘Qi’) throughout the body. Western science has shown that acupuncture stimulates nerves in skin and muscles, which can stimulate natural painkillers in the body (serotonin and endorphin) and improve blood flow.
How it feels
Needles are inserted, usually at depths of about one-quarter inch to one inch. While patients can expect to feel some sensation, it usually doesn’t cause pain; if it does hurt, the pain is mild and brief. Patients typically report that the therapeutic benefits outweigh any short-term discomfort.
Acupuncture is a safe, proven treatment that comes with few risks. Patients can experience soreness, and sometimes minor bleeding or bruising at the needle sites, but this typically passes in just a few days. Although there is a theoretical risk of injuring an internal organ by pushing in a needle too deeply, this is extremely rare and unlikely. Our physiotherapists have completed extensive training from Dr. Steven Aung, a world-renowned acupuncturist and professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension.
How acupuncture supports physiotherapy
Acupuncture treatments can increase blood flow to an injured area, improve range of motion in a joint, and decrease pain (both acute and chronic). All of these benefits can help patients get better and quicker results from their physiotherapy sessions.
Possible benefits to other conditions
In addition to the 30+ conditions named by WHO, acupuncture may have therapeutic benefits for other health issues. According to feedback from patients, acupuncture may also help Bells Palsy, asthma, shingles, and complex regional pain syndrome. Some athletes who have sustained sports injuries report a reduction in stress and anxiety after receiving acupuncture treatments.
Interested in learning more?
If you think acupuncture might help you, talk to your physiotherapist at your next session or give our office a call to learn more. As with physiotherapy, no physician’s referral is needed and services may be covered by health insurance.