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FAQs About Acupuncture

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A close-up of an acupuncture practitioner placing a thin acupuncture needle in a person's skin.

Acupuncture is a practice that’s been used for centuries. It’s a minimally invasive treatment that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes. 

While acupuncture has gained popularity in Western medicine, it’s still relatively unknown compared to other treatments like massage therapy. Some of the most frequently asked questions about acupuncture we can answer include what it is, how it works, and how it can help support your health. 

What Is Acupuncture?

According to traditional Eastern medicine, acupuncture is a technique used for balancing Chi (Qi), the energy or life force believed to flow through meridians (pathways) in your body. The goal of acupuncture is to promote healing by balancing energy flow throughout the body.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the belief is that when Chi is blocked, your body is more susceptible to illness or pain. By stimulating specific points in the body, acupuncture aims to remove these blockages and restore balance to the body. In Western culture, practitioners use acupuncture to insert needles at different depths in precise placements to help stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue thus triggering the body’s healing responses. 

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is recognized as safe and beneficial for many conditions. As long as you see a certified acupuncture practitioner who uses sterile needles, it has a low risk of injury. Similar to other minimally invasive treatments, you can experience some side effects, so it can be helpful to speak with a practitioner about what to expect before your treatment.

What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture can treat various conditions, from chronic pain to anxiety. It can be effective alone or often as a complementary therapy alongside other treatments such as physiotherapy and chiropractic. 

Some of the most common conditions and diseases treated with acupuncture include:

  • Chronic pain, such as lower back, knee, & neck pain
  • Dental pain 
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches, including tension headaches & migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea & vomiting from anesthesia or chemotherapy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Tennis elbow

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is thought to trigger a response from the body’s natural healing processes. The insertion of needles into specific points on the body produces a small enough injury to stimulate the body’s immune system, which can promote circulation to the area, trigger wound healing, and support pain modulation by releasing endorphins—the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones. 

The potential therapeutic effects of acupuncture include:

  • Pain relief
  • Increased energy
  • Improved mood
  • Improved body function

A young woman lying down comfortably during an acupuncture treatment session.

What Should You Expect from an Acupuncture Session?

During your acupuncture session, you will lie on a table as an acupuncture practitioner inserts small needles into targeted areas of your body. The number of needles can range from 5–20 inserted at various depths.

After placement, your acupuncture practitioner may gently move or twirl the needles or apply heat or mild electrical pulses. The needles will be left in place for 10-20 minutes before being removed. 

How Do You Know if Acupuncture Is Working?

Acupuncture may not be for everyone. To get a complete assessment, your practitioner will look at your medical history and assess the injury or condition you need treatment for. 

Once they identify the underlying reason for your pain or condition, you will receive a personalized treatment plan specific to your needs. You may need several sessions to see significant results, which your acupuncture practitioner will discuss after your initial consultation. Treatment plans are continuously reassessed and adapted for optimal effectiveness. 

Because every individual reacts differently to acupuncture, there is no universal way to judge how it works. Some people feel energized and relaxed, others feel tired, some feel immediate improvement, and others need a few treatment sessions to notice an improvement. 

Restoring Overall Health

Acupuncture is a safe and effective practice that can treat pain and a wide range of conditions. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it’s worth considering if you’re looking for a natural and holistic approach to healthcare. 

If you’re interested in exploring acupuncture further, book an appointment with us at Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare for a full assessment and treatment plan to meet your goals. 

Written by Shaheeza Haji

Shaheeza Haji graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in 2009, followed by a Master of Physiotherapy from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Being a staunch believer in “exercise is medicine” she attained her Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist status though the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2013. At the end of that same year, Shaheeza was involved in a major life-altering electrocution incident whereby she sustained a number of injuries which required surgery and years of rehabilitation. One of these injuries was a traumatic brain injury; it is thought that the electrical current exploded within the confined space of her skull, which for lack of better terminology was coined by her medical team as an “electrical concussion.” This lead to her becoming certified in the treatment and management of Concussions in 2018. Also in 2018, Shaheeza began instructing at CDI college, heading up the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant Diploma Program. Today, Shaheeza combines her love of teaching, her passion of concussion research, and the empathy & experience from her own injury to help those with acute and chronic concussions. Shaheeza also has a drive for entrepreneurship, being the CEO of Running Shoe Inc., directing both Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare and the Calgary Concussion Centre.
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