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What is Acupuncture? And How Does It Treat Pain?

Updated: Mar 10

The theory behind acupuncture is that your body has two opposing and interdependent forces called yin and yang. These forces must be in balance to achieve optimal health. When they aren’t in balance, it’s because there is a blockage in the flow of your qi: the energy thought to regulate your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. It’s believed that this imbalance is what causes disease, and acupuncture is how the blockages are removed.

The ancient art and science of acupuncture has been used in Asia for centuries to treat many conditions and relieve pain. It's now being used in Canada and other Western countries to ease everything from low back pain, to nerve pain (such as painful shingles rashes), to headaches, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps — and more.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the skin at specific "acupoints." I typically insert 4 to16 needles and leave them in place for 15 to 30 minutes while you rest. In my acupuncture practice, I begin with a 75min initial treatment which includes an assessment and treatment. I will then prescribe a treatment plan of follow-up appointments. A usual course of treatment includes 6 to 8 sessions over a two-month period.

For treating pain with acupuncture, there are three main models

  1. Gait Theory of Pain: Acupuncture is thought to stimulate inhibitory nerve fibers for a short period, thus reducing transmission of the pain signal to the brain.

  2. Endorphin Model: Clinical studies have shown that inserting acupuncture needles into specific acupuncture points on the body triggers the production of endorphins, which help alleviate pain.

  3. Neurotransmitter Model: Research in animals has found that acupuncture can balance brain neurons and the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine to help treat depression, anxiety, and addiction.

If you would like to learn about how Acupuncture can help you, please contact us for more information.

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