Do you have muscle or nerve-related pain? Are you feeling stiff and having difficulty moving? Acupuncture may help.
Several physiotherapists at Fit for Life Physiotherapy use acupuncture as a tool to reduce pain, encourage healing, and improve movement and function. Their post-graduate acupuncture training is through McMaster University’s Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program. With this training, physiotherapists can use acupuncture within their scope of practice, including treating musculoskeletal injuries and pain.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment that involves the insertion of fine, solid needles into specific points of the body. Following the training from McMaster University’s Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program, our practitioners use a neurofunctional approach to acupuncture. This approach differs from the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach primarily in how the acupuncture points are chosen.
Using a neurofunctional approach, acupuncture points are selected based on which nerves and muscles the practitioner wants to influence. The insertion of acupuncture needles stimulates both the peripheral and central nervous systems. It increases blood flow to the tissues where the needle is inserted, and needles can be inserted directly into tight bands of muscle to release muscle tension. Electrical stimulation to the needles, using a portable stimulation unit similar to a TENS machine, may be added to increase the intensity of the treatment. This is called electroacupuncture.
What Does Acupuncture Help With?
Acupuncture is beneficial for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions and disorders. Registered Physiotherapists who are trained in acupuncture can use it to treat:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Sciatica and other nerve-related pain
- Hip pain
- Knee pain
- Tennis elbow
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis
- Urinary urgency and frequency
- Sports related injuries and other movement disorders
- Chronic pain
Will Acupuncture Help Me?
Acupuncture can have a positive impact on your recovery. Some people may notice changes immediately, while others notice a difference after a few sessions. As with all treatment modalities, everyone has a different response to acupuncture treatment.
When acupuncture is used in physiotherapy, it is most often used in combination with other treatments, such as manual therapy and exercise. The research shows that it is often the combination of treatment modalities that is most effective, as opposed to doing acupuncture alone.
Meet Our Therapists Who Provide Acupuncture
What Does Acupuncture Treatment Look Like? What Does It Do?
Your physiotherapist will help you find a comfortable and supportive position that provides access to the area being treated. It is important to find a position that you can be relaxed and still in during the treatment. Movement during acupuncture treatment, which creates muscle contraction around the needle, may be uncomfortable and is not advised.
Once you are in a comfortable position, your physiotherapist will insert the single use, sterile needles into the desired points. We strive for painless needle insertion, but you may feel an initial prick sensation. Once the needle is inserted, it should feel comfortable. You should never feel like you have to “grin and bear it”. Make sure to let your physiotherapist know if it's uncomfortable so that they can make any necessary changes to improve comfort.
With your consent, and if your physiotherapist feels it is appropriate, they may connect a portable stimulation unit–similar to a TENS unit–to the needles. The addition of an electric stimulus (electroacupuncture) can enhance the impact of the treatment. The stimulation of the needles should not feel painful, but may feel strange at first. If this is something you are not comfortable with, let your physiotherapist know and the electrical stimulation will not be used.
Acupuncture sessions generally last 10-20 minutes. The acupuncture treatments are often used in conjunction with manual therapy and/or exercise therapy treatments and are often completed at the same appointment.
What Are The Benefits of Acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be a beneficial addition to your physiotherapy treatments. It can help to release tight muscles, decrease pain, and help to restore strength and mobility!
Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture
Does Acupuncture hurt?
We strive for painless needle insertion. When the needles are inserted, you may feel an initial prick sensation or a pressure feeling. Once the needle is inserted it should feel comfortable. If the initial discomfort does not resolve quickly, let the therapist know and the needle may be removed from that location.
Is Acupuncture covered by my Extended Health Benefit Plan?
Physiotherapists who are trained in acupuncture, and rostered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario to perform acupuncture, can use acupuncture as part of their Physiotherapy Treatment sessions for issues that are within their scope of practice. The treatment is billed under your extended health insurance Physiotherapy benefits–not your Acupuncture benefits. If your plan covers Physiotherapy, then your treatment will be covered as per your benefits entitlement. Please check with your extended health insurance provider to find out the details of your Physiotherapy coverage.