FAQ Acupuncture

Acupuncture in Sherwood Park

Eastgate Physiotherapy and Acupuncture, Sherwood Park answers FAQs

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine involving the insertion of solid filiform acupuncture needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect. No drug is injected. The needles alone create the beneficial effects of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is used to encourage natural healing, improve mood and energy, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body. It is safe and effective and is often successfully used as an alternative to medications or even surgery. Relief is often obtained with acupuncture when traditional medical therapy has failed.

Acupuncture points (also referred to as "acupoints‟) are places on the skin that have a lower resistance to the passage of electricity than the surrounding skin and are part of a network of points that were mapped centuries ago by the Chinese. Most are found along "meridians‟ or "channels‟ that are believed to be the pathways by which energy or Qi (pronounced "Chee‟) flows through the body. Acupoints are located either by identifying anatomical landmarks or by the classical method (for example: "the point where the middle finger touches the thigh when standing at attention").

A dull, heavy, or aching feeling often occurs when the needle is correctly placed. This is referred to as "de Qi‟ and is considered by some traditional acupuncturists to be necessary for acupuncture to be effective. The experience of AFCI is that relief of pain can often be obtained without provoking the de Qi response. Recent fMRI studies indicate that there is a difference in the response of the brain to needling with and without the de Qi sensation1.

The needles are left in place for 15-30 minutes, and the practitioner may manipulate the needles to strengthen or reduce the flow of Qi. Lifting, twisting, and rotating are some of the needling techniques a practitioner may use.

Question- How does acupuncture work?
Traditional Concepts
Traditional Chinese Medicine is, fortunately, not based on science. It is based on a paradigm of balance in nature, a concept that has existed for millennia, originating in Taoism. The heart of the paradigm is the belief that there exists in nature and in the human body, energy, referred to as Qi (pronounced "chee‟). In order to be healthy one must have sufficient Qi, it must be balanced and it must be free-flowing within the body in a pattern that is specific to the Qi related to each of several identified organs. Blood and body fluids ground and nourish Qi to create balance so Qi can move freely in the meridians.

Traditionally, acupuncture‟s effects are explained by how it influences Qi. Qi is believed to flow through "meridians‟ or "channels‟ along with blood and body fluids. These meridians make up a conceptual network of pathways through the entire body. The word "meridian‟ comes from the French translation of the Chinese term jing-luo, which means "to go through" and "something that connects or attaches". According to TCM theory, Qi forms at conception and is maintained throughout life by the intake of food, water and air. Everything in nature is classified as being either yin (cold, female, dark, inside, etc) or yang (hot, male, light, outside. etc). Under healthy circumstances, the body maintains a state of balance (i.e. between yin and yang) when Qi is moving smoothly through the meridians.

If there is an imbalance in yin and yang or if the movement of Qi is deficient, obstructed, moving in the wrong direction, or in excess, the body may be in a diseased state or more susceptible to illness. In traditional approaches, acupuncture is used to stimulate points either along meridians or points that lie outside these pathways that may connect two meridians, to correct the imbalance. A traditional acupuncturist will diagnose and treat the "root‟ and "branches‟ or the underlying imbalance and symptoms of the disease or disorder. In this way, traditional acupuncture treats not only the symptoms, but addresses the root cause of the underlying problem and may also prevent further illness. For more detailed information on traditional acupuncture from a traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, please see the Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy review on CAMline. http://www.camline.ca

The reason for stating at the outset that it is fortunate that TCM is not based on science is to acknowledge its value in solving health-related problems that confound modern medicine. Often modern medical knowledge with its emphasis on studying the minute details about a condition misses the big picture one sees when symptoms are viewed through the eyes of an individual with training in TCM concepts. Using that knowledge often leads to a successful outcome for an ill person that was impossible with western medicine

Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is a safe technique, provided that practitioners are properly trained and follow appropriate techniques. AFCI-trained practitioners of acupuncture use single-use, sterile disposable needles and have been trained regarding precautions and contraindications to acupuncture.

It is important to notify the practitioner if you are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant, as acupuncture treatment may have to be modified or may not be appropriate.

How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is the stimulation, by insertion of needles, of specific points on the body which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body‟s natural pain-relieving neuro transmitter chemicals. Acupuncture affects the functioning of the hormonal system, promotes a decrease in inflammation, increased circulation and relief from pain.

How many sessions of treatment will I need?
Many people see a significant difference within one to two treatments but some take longer to respond, perhaps 5 or 6 sessions, depending on the condition being treated. If no difference is felt by the end of the fifth or sixth treatment, the diagnosis of the condition should be reconsidered and further medical investigations may be needed.

Chronic conditions may need repeat maintenance treatments to maintain the momentum after an initial period of frequent treatments. Post treatment exercise and discipline in diet is extremely important for continued improvement and recovery.

Generally treatments every second day (Mon, Wed and Fri) would be considered frequent treatment. Maintenance treatments could range from weekly to monthly or when symptoms begin to recur.

What conditions can be helped with acupuncture?
There have been many studies on the usefulness and efficacy of acupuncture in the scientific literature. Study design and size have sometimes resulted in complexities in the measurement of outcomes with treatment, however promising results with acupuncture treatment have been shown in the treatment of many conditions.

Acupuncture is used to treat a vast number of painful conditions such as sciatica, low back pain, sprains and strains, whiplash, headaches, as well as neurological, and other medical conditions or problems.

Post-operative and chemotherapy-related nausea can also be helped with acupuncture.

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture provides pain relief, and improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee and is an effective complement to standard care.

Other conditions which may be helped with acupuncture include: (This list is by no means a complete list of conditions which can be helped with acupuncture)

Ear, Eye, Nose and Throat Disorders:


Hay fever

Gastrointestinal Disorders:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome




Abdominal bloating

Gynecological/ Genitourinary


Menstrual problems


Neurological Disorders:

Multiple Sclerosis


Cerebral Palsy


Respiratory Disorders



Colds and Flus

Is acupuncture painful?What does it feel like?
Acupuncture is usually a comfortable treatment. Needles are very fine, metallic and as thin as a hair, making them quite painless upon insertion. Everyone experiences acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or very minimal pain as the needles are inserted. You may experience a mild aching sensation or warmth around the needle site.

How much exercise should I do?
Exercise helps to improve blood circulation and recovery from illness depends on a good supply of nutrients and oxygen. Exercise as frequently as possible but never to the point of exhaustion. Rest between exercises and replenish the body with nutritious food and drinks.

What activities are to be avoided after acupuncture treatment?
Strenuous physical activities including vigorous exercise should be avoided for at least 2 hours after treatment.

A good feeling after acupuncture must not be taken as full recovery and patients must avoid over-engaging in any activities they were unable to perform previously due to their condition until they regain their strength and stamina.

What should I do before and after an acupuncture treatment?
You should make sure that you have eaten a light meal prior to having acupuncture. You should avoid consuming caffeine or nicotine for 90 minutes before and after treatment. Continue with all medications as prescribed.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance?
Many insurance plans offer coverage for acupuncture treatment. To find out if your plan covers acupuncture, and any limits to the number of treatments covered, you should contact your insurance company directly. Acupuncture may also be covered if you sustained a workplace injury or were injured in a motor vehicle accident.

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