Acupuncture FAQ

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

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

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.

IS THERE ANY RESEARCH ON ACUPUNCTURE?

Yes. Part of the reason physiotherapists, medical doctors and naturopaths use acupuncture/IMS needles is because people do get relief from pain and other problems. There are many studies showing the efficacy of acupuncture for relief of a variety of conditions – particularly pain, nausea and stress. Please follow the link below for a collection of studies:

https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/

Acupuncture is also helpful under circumstances where a person cannot take certain medications, as in pregnancy.

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 some physiotherapists and medical doctors. IMS is a subsection of orthopaedic acupuncture. Needles are often put in sensitive areas to elicit a strong response. IMS practitioners do not refer to the points they use as acupuncture points but a lot of the points they use correlate with TCM points. While IMS is evolving, it tends to be used to treat one or two muscles. Acupuncture treats the body as a pattern. For instance, if you have been limping due to a sprained ankle, your other leg might be tired from supporting your weight, your lower back might be tight from a shortened gait, your neck might be sore, you might have a headache because you can’t find a comfortable sleeping position, or you might have stomach pain because you took painkillers, and so on.

Acupuncture uses TCM patterns to support your overall health and work with short term injuries/issues. Your treatment plan may include dietary and lifestyle suggestions.

The training styles for IMS and Acupuncture are different as well. Acupuncturists are taught hands-on skills (different techniques for different conditions orthopaedic or otherwise, point location, client comfort/safety, etc.) for months under the supervision of experienced professionals. Student acupuncturists also participate in clinics where they watch teachers treat patients for months, followed by the students’ own work with the public for years under the supervision of a Registered Acupuncturist.

IMS is usually taught as a continuing education course, a weekend at a time. IMS practitioners usually practice while using their previous modalities as the foundation of their treatment. A lot of physiotherapists use IMS well but there is much more that can be done with the needles so please come in and try acupuncture. Acupuncturists are needle specialists.

 

HOW ARE REGISTERED ACUPUNCTURISTS TRAINED?

Registered Acupuncturist is one of three Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) designations regulated under the Health Professions Act (the other are Doctor of TCM and a TCM herbalist). In BC, a Registered Acupuncturist:

  • studies a minimum of three years of full-time accredited acupuncture education including both Biomedical and TCM health sciences
  • takes two years of prerequisite university courses
  • must pass a National Board Exam in order to be licensed to practice in BC

The title ‘Acupuncturist’ is restricted to Registered Acupuncturists (RAc) licensed by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC (CTCMA).

Registered Acupuncturists must renew their license every year.

The continuing education requirements for Registered Acupuncturists are among the highest of all the regulated health professions in BC.

IS ACUPUNCTURE COVERED BY EXTENDED HEALTH CARE PLANS?

Usually. Check your extended health insurance plans for details such as:

  •  how much do they cover per appointment?
  •  how much do they cover per year?
  • do you need a referral from a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner? (which is rare)
  • is there a deductible every year?

You may be pleasantly surprised by the coverage you have. Acupuncture is a wonderful adjunct to massage and naturopathy as well as physiotherapy and chiropractics. Cardinal Point Health direct-bills to a large range of extended health insurance plans, so it may not cost you anything.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY FIRST APPOINTMENT?

At your first appointment (usually 70+ minutes) we will go over the details of what you brought you in, like:

  • How long has this problem been bothering you?
  •  What started it?
  •  What makes it feel better or worse? And so on.

Then we’ll go over the information about acupuncture that you need such as benefits, risks, and potential add-on therapies. Next we’ll review your overall health picture. Once your questions are answered and you feel comfortable proceeding, we get you on the treatment table so you can experience how I do acupuncture.

We will cooperate on a treatment plan based on your comfort level and particular needs. Your plan may also include modifications you can do at home to find relief faster.

WHERE DO THE NEEDLES GO?

Acupuncture usually uses a mix of local and distant points on the body. If you have an injury we usually do a careful hands-on assessment. If the area is too tender to touch we use points above and below the sore spot to keep circulation flowing in the area without aggravating the tissues. A treatment can be done using only the arms and legs or we might employ back massage followed by acupuncture there.

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.

DO PEOPLE EVER FALL ASLEEP DURING TREATMENT?

A lot of people find acupuncture to be so relaxing they fall asleep during their treatment. It is a great time to unwind away from the demands of your cell phone.

ARE ACUPUNCTURE NEEDLES STERILE?

Yes. Needles are sterilized and sealed in the factory and not opened until we are ready to start the hands on treatment. Needles are used only once and then put in a bio-hazard waste container.

I’M HEALTHY. CAN I STILL COME FOR ACUPUNCTURE?

Prevention is a very important part of health care. Come in to loosen tight muscles, lower your stress level, or to accommodate the changing seasons. For example, acupuncture helps reduce allergy suffering when started before the pollen comes out.

HOW DO I BOOK AN APPOINTMENT?

BOOK AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT