Frequently asked questions about acupuncture

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What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment that nourishes and aids the body’s natural healing processes. Chinese texts describe channels of energy called meridians that flow throughout the body in regular patterns, a system just like the circulatory system or the nervous system. Flowing through these meridians is “qi,” life force energy. Good health depends on the smooth flow of qi. When the flow of qi is blocked due to injury, poor diet, medication, stress, hereditary conditions, environmental factors or emotional issues, the system is disrupted. Illness and pain then arise.

Acupuncture regulates and restores the harmonious energetic balance of the body, so problems occur less frequently and recovery is much quicker.

Does acupuncture hurt and is it safe?

The needles I use are sterile, disposable and extremely thin.

Because they are very fine there is very little sensation. I strive to give an effective treatment while minimizing any discomfort the patient might feel. I believe that acupuncture doesn’t have to hurt to work. My treatments are gentle enough that my patients often feel so relaxed they fall asleep on the table.

Can acupuncture treat more than pain?

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, it can have much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as support to other medical treatments.

There are many reasons to receive acupuncture, but they fall into 3 main categories :

  • promotion of health and well-being
  • prevention of illness
  • treatment of various medical conditions

What conditions respond well to Acupuncture?

The following is the World Health Organization (WHO) list of diseases that lend themselves to treatment by acupuncture:

Digestive Disorders
Respiratory Disorders
Tension, Stress and Emotional Conditions
Neurological and Musculoskeletal Disorders
Urinary, Menstrual, and Reproductive Problems
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

Acupuncture treatments are effective on cats, dogs, horses and other animals where belief is not a factor. Acupuncture causes physiological changes in the body regardless of whether the patient believes in it or not.

How does acupuncture work?

The exact physiological mechanism behind acupuncture has not yet been proven, but studies show that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the release of chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These naturally occurring substances can reduce pain and inflamation or trigger the release of neurotransmitters and hormones which have an influence on metabolism.

How long does it take to see results from acupuncture?

This depends on the type of condition being treated, as well as the individual’s response to treatments. Sometimes immediate relief may be felt . Other times there’s a 1 or 2 day delay in response, or it can take a few treatments to start feeling results. For example, if a person receives treatment for a simple cold, it is likely that they would feel immediate results. However if a person gets treated for back pain they’ve been suffering with for 10 years, it may take 3-5 treatments before they start to feel the improvement.

How often are treatments required?

During the initial healing phase, once a week is the minimum recommended. Although it’s possible to experience considerable relief after the first treatment, results are often cumulative. For very severe or chronic conditions, it is advisable to jump start a treatment regimen with 2-3 treatments per week for the first couple weeks until relief is felt, then transition to once a week.

Once the condition is stable the treatment frequency is reduced. Time between treatments can be stretched out to 14 days, 21 days or just reduced to a monthly maintenance treatment.

How long are treatments required?

This depends on the type of condition being treated, as well as the individual’s response to treatments. Most patients feel a definite improvement within one month of weekly treatments. Most patients have weekly treatments for 5 to 8 weeks, some people continue with weekly visits for 3-4 months. Once the desired results have been achieved, treatment frequency will be reduced.

Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?

In general, acupuncture is safe during pregnancy but special precautions must be taken. Always tell your acupuncturist if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.