Acupuncture is a treatment method that has roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is used for a range of health problems, including chronic back pain, headaches, and migraines.

Acupuncture regulation in Canada indicates that health practitioners must be trained in acupuncture in order to use it as a complement to their own professional training, in most Canadian provinces (but not all). Standards for training are set by the regulatory bodies for each health profession. Not all provinces have set standards.

There are two main types of acupuncture that we offer at CAP Health: Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Western Acupuncture.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture

The theory behind acupuncture as a medical treatment is very different from that of Western medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, imbalances in the basic energetic flow of life — known as Qi (齊 or 齐) — are thought to cause illness. Qi is believed to flow through 20 major pathways (meridians) in your body. These meridians and the energy flow are accessible through approximately 400 different acupuncture points. By inserting extremely fine needles into these acupuncture points in various combinations, your energy flow will rebalance. This allows your body’s natural healing mechanisms to take over.

The healing process takes time. The results of the first few treatments usually last from 48 hours to less than a week. By re-stimulating the same Acu-points regularly, the result will build up, and usually, after around 6 treatments, the result will climb to a peak, then you can experience a huge relief of the symptoms. In some acute disorders, since the damage to the body is not very severe, the body can heal by itself when the symptoms are relieved.

Acupuncture is performed by carefully and painlessly inserting a hair fine stainless steel needle to a certain part of the body, known as Acu-points. You feel a little sting, which is usually described as a mosquito bite, when the needle penetrates the skin. After that, the practitioner will gently push the needle to a certain depth, a heavy, dull or tingling sensation may appear, known as the arrival of Qi. Most people feel relaxed during and after the treatment. In some cases, the symptoms may flare up for a short period of time which is usually followed by a big relief.

Western Acupuncture

Western Acupuncture is a more targeted evidence-based approach to acupuncture which still uses many of the same techniques. However, it is most commonly associated with managing specific symptoms of pain and damage to soft tissue. Western acupuncture will focus on points of the body that lend themselves to pain and tension relief, rather than the overall restoration of energy flow. Physical therapists, Osteopaths, and Sports Therapists may have trained to use specific needling techniques but are not required to learn from the larger body of work which supports acupuncture within Traditional Chinese Medicine 1 2.

Results from a number of studies on both humans and animals suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic, such as lower-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain, as well as reduce inflammation 1. When conducted by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is widely considered a safe treatment 1.

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