Acupuncture FAQ

READ BELOW FOR ACUPUNCTURE FAQ AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR APPOINTMENT.

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Whisker fine needles are used to stimulate sensitive areas in the body. These acupuncture points are commonly found along planes of connective tissue (very close analog to Chinese meridians) in the body where structures meet and separate. Stimulating these points can have an effect on the local area and far along the branching network of fascial connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves that coordinate the body. While North American generally​ save acupuncture for chronic health concerns, acupuncture works very well for acute issues. For ​example, the very fine needles allow acupuncturists to directly stimulate the shoulder capsule in frozen shoulder ​or tiny muscles under large thick muscles near the spine. The needles can also be used near inflamed areas that would usually be too sore to manipulate. Mild electrical stimulation of the acupuncture points (similar to TENS machines at a physiotherapy office) are sometimes used to reduce muscle tension and more strongly activate points without pain.

​Acupuncture can provide long lasting, drug free relief for pain, stress and a lot of internal disorders.

WHAT IS TCM?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) a combination of techniques including acupuncture for preventative and reparative healthcare.

TCM uses naturalistic terms to group symptoms together like:

  • Heat & Damp (​fever, ​inflammation, ​flu, ​edema…)
  • Stagnation (areas of poor circulation​, restricted movement…)
  • Deficiency (weakness, reduced functioning sometimes from genetics, exhaustion, aging…)
  • Excess (each emotion is ok, excess emotion can torture us, fatty tissues, invading germs…)
  • Cold (odd/reduced sensations or intense ones, metabolism issues…)

TCM recognizes that a health condition is rarely just one symptom. A migraine occurs in the head but also can affect blood circulation in the whole-​body (white face, cold hands), digestion (nausea and vomiting), neurological processing of light (dilated pupils), sound and smells. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the health history is examined for patterns to relieve not only the main complaint but also to reduce the chance of it returning Using disposable needles, electrical stimulation, cupping, gua sha (stroking the skin with an instrument), heat and/or massage​,​ your acupuncturist helps tight areas loosen up and weak systems function better. The initial appointment includes an interview of your lifestyle patterns and health. Treatments are tailored to your body instead of treating every person with an ailment as the same. Appointments may include food choice modifications and sleep/exercise suggestions.

WHAT IS CUPPING?

Plastic, glass or silicone cups are used to draw soft tissue away from the body. This improves local circulation and can relax tissues. Cups can stay in one place or be slide along muscles ​and​ meridians. I consider it to be like a reverse massage, draw​ing​ the tissue up instead of press​i​ng it down into the bones.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

​There can be a warm sensation near the acupuncture point, a tight muscle ache or a heavy feeling. The most common thing you feel if the needle is close to a hair follicle there is a quick sharp pain (like plucking an eyebrow hair) which passes quickly. Have you ever had anything waxed? Acupuncture is far less painful than waxing. It is frequently painless and usually leads to feeling really relaxed. ​A lot of points don’t hurt at all.

HOW BIG ARE THE NEEDLES?

Did you know…10 acupuncture needles can fit into the tip of one hypodermic needle​?

WHAT IF I AM AFRAID OF NEEDLES?

Acupuncture treatments usually make people feel calm and peaceful​ by the end because they shut off the fight-or-flight system.

WHY GET ACUPUNCTURE?

  • Because other methods aren’t giving you the results you want
  • Or they ​have unwanted side effects.
  • Or you are seeking a whole-body treatment instead of spot treatment.
  • Or you like interesting sensation/are a bit of a daredevil.

We’ve all found a pressure point that helped decrease sinus congestion or lead to less pain in a sup​e​r tight muscles… for as long as you keep pressing on it. If a tool can do the same job or better why not try it. An acupuncturist can use cups on tight back muscles, directly stimulate a frozen shoulder capsule with a needle, trigger a twitch​-relax response in rock-hard calves while warming the core of the body with applied heat and a herbal tincture​,​ all at the same time. We also look for patterns in your physical pain and your health issues to help you reduce the frequency of visits needed.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IMS AND ACUPUNCTURE?

IMS (intramuscular stimulation) is a technique performed by a physiotherapist or sometimes a medical doctor. Although it employs the use of needles, IMS is not acupuncture; it is based on body physiology rather than Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). IMS is a relatively new technique whereas acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system of medicine that has been used for thousands of years.

Although both use needles in treatment, the technique and approach is very different.

Acupuncture is based on the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a diagnosis is made based on a comprehensive assessment of your overall health. Treatments consist of local points to relieve pain as well as distal points to support your overall immune system and underlying health issues. A treatment plan also involves diet and lifestyle recommendations based on your particular diagnosis whereas IMS is focused on local pain and does not employ formal TCM diagnosis or recommendations.

There is a also a difference in the level of training between a physiotherapist and a Registered Acupuncturist. Acupuncture is a government regulated profession under the Provincial Health Professions Act and registrants must be licensed with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC (CTCMA). In BC a Registered Acupuncturist undergoes a minimum of 3 years of full-time accredited acupuncture education in addition to 2 years of prerequisite university sciences. After completing 5 years of education they must pass a National Board Exam in order to be licensed to practice in BC. The title ‘Acupuncturist’ is restricted to Registered Acupuncturists licensed by the CTCMA regulatory body and only a licensed Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) is permitted to call themselves an Acupuncturist in BC. Registered Acupuncturists must renew their license every year. The continuing education requirements for Registered Acupuncturists are amongst the highest of all the regulated health professions in BC. In contrast, the IMS needling education a physiotherapist or physician undertakes is often completed over several weekends.

There are benefits to both but it’s important to know the difference so you can decide what’s best for you.

HOW DO I BOOK AN APPOINTMENT?

BOOK AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT