What is Acupuncture?

AcupunctureAcupuncture is a treatment technique to aid in reducing or relieving pain, encourage healing and improve function. It has been used for hundreds of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and more recently is gaining popularity in Western medicine. There are many scientific studies which show that it is effective for a number of health problems. It involves inserting very fine needles into specific areas of the body. There is no injection and the treatment causes minimal discomfort. Acupuncture works well in conjunction with exercise and manual therapy to provide an integrated therapeutic approach to the treatment of pain, head aches, and variety of neuromuscular disorders.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture encourages the body to release endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s own pain relieving chemicals which block pain messages from the body to the brain. This results in pain relief and general relaxation.

Does it hurt?

Most people feel only minimal discomfort when the needles are inserted. Some people feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort.

What is it used for?

Acupuncture is very effective at treating a variety of painful musculoskeletal problems including:

  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • low back pain
  • sciatica
  • chronic pain
  • arthritis
  • tendonitis
  • tennis elbow
  • frozen shoulder
  • muscle strains
  • ligament sprains
  • TMJ

What is Scalp Acupuncture?

Scalp acupuncture, also called head acupuncture, is a contemporary acupuncture technique integrating traditional Chinese needling methods with a Westernized medical approach of the brain. From an acupuncture approach, Scalp acupuncture has been proven to be the most effective technique for treating acute and chronic central nervous system disorders such as Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Concussion / Brain Injury, Parkinson’s, Chronic Pain, Neuropathy, Paralysis. It involves placing fine needles over the corresponding areas of the skull according to the brain’s neuroanatomy. Treatment sessions are typically longer than body acupuncture lasting anywhere from 30 minutes-1 hour. The frequency of the sessions will be discussed with your therapist

Are there any risks or side effects of acupuncture?

One of the benefits of acupuncture is that it has few risks or side effects. Women who are pregnant and hemophiliacs should be treated with caution. This clinic uses disposable needles, preventing any risk of infection or disease transmission. Overall, acupuncture should be considered a safe, low-risk therapy.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments required will vary with each person. Some people find relief after one session. Chronic or complex conditions may require several weeks of treatment. Sessions usually last 15-20 minutes. Relief may be immediate, within a few hours or after a few days.

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

No, although a positive attitude towards wellness may reinforce the effects of any treatment. In fact, studies show that 80-90% of people who try Acupuncture have some degree of pain relief.

Is there anything I should do before treatment?

Acupuncture can be done at any time. It is best to avoid alcohol or sedatives for 4 hours prior to treatment. Please make sure you have eaten before your treatment.

What about after treatment?

Avoid strong exercise, alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes for 2 hours after treatment.

Who pays for my treatment?

In most cases, acupuncture is covered as part of your physiotherapy when you have private health insurance benefits, a work related injury or car accident. Unfortunately, OHIP does not cover acupuncture at this time.

What training do you need to perform acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a post-graduate course. Currently there is no standard training required to perform acupuncture. All of our physiotherapists have taken courses with recognized courses including the McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program and the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute (AFCI). Some of these programs involve 220 hours or more of study. Our physiotherapists are also governed by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario which governs the use of acupuncture within our profession.

Haldimand Physiotherapy is associated with the McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program as well as being part of its instructor program. Go to for more information.

What if I have other questions?

Your treating physiotherapist can help you answer any other questions or concerns you may have about how acupuncture can help you.

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