Acupuncture is the insertion of thin, metal needles to stimulate specific points of the body that reach meridians. These stimulation points are called acupuncture points or acupoints. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that there are 365 commonly used acupuncture points on 20 meridians on the human body. Typically, it takes 15 to 30 minutes of manipulating the needles in these acupuncture points and 30 to 60 minutes of retaining the needles. By doing so, it regulates the flow of qi throughout the body and restore health to the mind and body, thus balancing the yin and yang. The insertions of needles are manipulated either by the hand or by electrical stimulation, called electroacupuncture.
Is it safe? Does it hurt?
Needles inserted during an acupuncture treatment should be painless. Every patient experience is different; patients may experience bruising, bleeding, needle site pain and sensation, or needle fainting. However, these symptoms may be expected (minimal bleeding) and desired (tingle, tight sensation - "de qi response"). Patients should inform the practitioner if any discomfort arises.
Is dry needling the same as TCM acupuncture?
Dry needling is a technique used by Western practitioners such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, and occupational therapists etc. based on strictly body anatomy in opposed to TCM principals. Thin metal needles are inserted in specific muscle trigger points to release tension and pain. Dry needling does not apply any TCM principals nor diagnosis. Hence, dry needling practitioners are not necessarily receiving the same level of training as set out by the standards of our College. In other words, those who practise dry needling might not meet the requirements to use the title of "Registered Acupuncturist" or "Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner" in the province of Ontario.
What health conditions can Acupuncture treat?
Though today we know this list to be more extensive, in 1979 the World Health Organization (WHO) published the following list of common conditions proven to respond to TCM Acupuncture:
Anxiety ∙Depression∙ Stress ∙Insomnia
Upper Respiratory Tract:
Acute sinusitis ∙Acute rhinitis ∙Common Cold ∙Acute Tonsillitis
Acute bronchitis ∙Bronchial asthma (most effective in children and in patients without complicating diseases)
Disorders of the eye:
Acute conjunctivitis ∙Central retinitis ∙Myopia (in children) ∙Cataract (without complications)
Disorders of the mouth:
Toothache, post extraction pain ∙Gingivitis ∙Acute and chronic pharyngitis
Spasms of the esophagus and cardia ∙Hiccough ∙Gastroptosis ∙Acute and chronic gastritis ∙Gastric hyperacidity
Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief) ∙Acute duodenal ulcer (without complications) ∙Acute and chronic colitis
Acute bacillary dysentery ∙Constipation ∙Diarrhea ∙Paralytic ileus
Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders:
Headache and migraine ∙Trigeminal neuralgia (TMJ) ∙Facial palsy (early stage, i.e. within six months)
Pareses following a stroke ∙Peripheral neuropathies ∙Sequelae of poliomyelitis (early sage i.e. within six months)
Meniere’s disease ∙Neurogenic bladder dysfunction ∙Nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) ∙Intercostal neuralgia
Cervicobrachial syndrome ∙“Frozen shoulder”, “Tennis elbow” ∙Sciatica ∙Low-back pain ∙Osteoarthritis