Acupuncture is the insertion of fine disposable needles into specific points of the body to promote healing. The area of insertion and the number of needles used depends on the condition being treated. Acupuncture is not painful, but can illicit specific sensations. The amount of stimulation used is based on the sensitivity of the patient.
Acupuncture treatments are available in both traditional Chinese and orthopaedic styles. In the traditional Chinese method, needles are applied to specific meridian or organ system points to stimulate healing. In orthopaedic acupuncture needles are applied to muscle motor points to alleviate pain and tension.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report in 2003 on the effectiveness of acupuncture using data from 255 clinical trials.1 The data from these trials ended in 1999. Since that time, additional quality research has supported the use of acupuncture for a variety of conditions. The following lists all of the diseases, symptoms or conditions which supports acupuncture as an effective treatment as taken from the WHO report :
• Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
• Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
• Biliary colic
• Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
• Dysentery, acute bacillary
• Dysmenorrhoea, primary
• Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
• Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
• Hypertension, essential
• Hypotension, primary
• Induction of labour
• Knee pain
• Low back pain
• Malposition of fetus, correction of
• Morning sickness
• Nausea and vomiting
• Neck pain
• Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
• Periarthritis of shoulder
• Postoperative painRenal colic
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Tennis elbow
1Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, World Health Organization, (2003). Retrieved from http://digicollection.org/hss/en/d/Js4926e/
What should I expect during an acupuncture treatment?
If this is your first visit to receive an acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist will assess your condition by asking you many questions about the condition for which you are seeking treatment, followed by questions about your general health and lifestyle. These questions are broad and are required to be able to treat you in a holistic manner, instead of just treating your symptoms.
Following the assessment, the acupuncturist will diagnose your condition(s) based on a traditional Chinese medical diagnosis and explain how this relates to your Western medical diagnosis. From this diagnosis, the acupuncturist will then be able to tell you how many treatments you will require and the frequency at which you should receive the treatments. After this, the acupuncture treatment will be performed.
The acupuncturist will explain what position you will be in for your treatment. You may be placed lying face down, face up, or on your side depending on the requirements of your treatment. For many procedures, it is recommend that you choose loose fitting clothing, preferably a short sleeved shirt or a tank top, and a pair of shorts or loose fitting pants (don’t be afraid to come in your PJ’s). For some treatments, you may be required to remove articles of clothing so that the areas to be treated are fully accessible. In these cases, there will be sheets available for you to lie under during your treatment.
When it is time to perform the treatment, the acupuncturist will explain where the needles will be placed and what sensations you should expect. The sensations that you may feel during a treatment are varied. They can be:
- An electrical sensation that travels from the acupuncture point up or down the body or limbs
- A dull achy sensation that is felt locally around the needle
- A feeling of general pressure at the point of needling
- A distending sensation around the needle
- An electrical or aching sensation at a different point on the body away from the needle
- Or the feeling of a muscle twitching or jumping
The acupuncturist will swab the points of insertion with 70% alcohol to clean the area before the needles are inserted. The needles are sterile, single use needles which are very thin. The acupuncturist will insert the needles, asking you what sensations you feel. After the initial sensation, many people do not feel the needles for the rest of the treatment. Occasionally, you may feel sensations of energy moving through your body, or feel the sensations listed above, usually to a lesser degree. The acupuncturist may also place an infrared heating lamp over different areas of the body, with or without herbal liniments, to enhance the treatment effects.
The needles can remain in place anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes (or longer), with an average of about 20 minutes per treatment. Many patients find the treatment very relaxing, with many people actually falling asleep during their treatments. When the treatment is over, the acupuncturist will remove the needles. The acupuncturist will advise you to take your time getting up off the table, as acupuncture increases blood circulation and getting up too quickly may cause you to feel lightheaded and possible fainting. The chances of this occurring are higher if you have skipped meals before getting a treatment, or if you are dehydrated. It is recommended to make sure you have eaten and are fully hydrated prior to your appointment time.
After the treatment, you may feel relaxed, refreshed, or a bit tired. You are able to go about the rest of your day without worrying about any major side effects. Some side effects that may occur after treatment are minor bruising or bleeding at the site of needle insertion, mild tingling or itching at the point of needle insertion and/or lightheaded (especially if you have not eaten or drank enough fluids prior to your treatment). The feeling of being lightheaded usually passes in minutes and drinking a glass of clean water usually helps.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of sterile, single use needles into specific points on the body known as acupuncture points. Stimulating these points with acupuncture needles promotes healing in the body. Acupuncture has been performed in China, with written records describing it going back about 2000 years.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is based on Chinese medical theory that states that there is a life force called Qi (pronounced Chee) that circulates in our body through specific pathways. These pathways are called meridians. Qi can be accessed at specific points along these meridians, called acupuncture points. By inserting needles in these points, Qi can be manipulated to help the body heal itself.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is safe when practiced by a registered acupuncturist. A registered acupuncturist has taken at least three years of formal training and has passed a registration examination to prove their knowledge. There are very few side effects noted when acupuncture is performed by a qualified practitioner.
What happens to the needles after my treatment?
After the needles are removed from your body they are placed in a biohazard container. When the container is full, it is destroyed as medical waste.
Do I need to bring anything to the treatment?
You may bring any copies of tests or other documentation related to the condition you are seeking treatment for. This can include x-rays, MRI results, CT scans, or blood tests. If you have any general health documentation that you feel would be helpful for the acupuncturist please bring in those documents as well. This could include supplementation list, current diet details or general notes you may have made about your personal health history. If you are unsure of what medical information to bring to your initial consultation, please ask and our acupuncturist will let you know.
What should I wear to my appointment?
For many procedures, it is recommend that you choose loose fitting clothing, preferably a short sleeved shirt or a tank top, and a pair of shorts or loose fitting pants (don’t be afraid to come in your PJ’s). For some treatments, you may be required to remove articles of clothing so that the areas to be treated are fully accessible. In these cases, there will be sheets available for you to lie under during your treatment.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture can elicit many different sensations and can be a little uncomfortable at times. The sensations that can be caused by an acupuncture treatment are:
• An electrical sensation that travels from the acupuncture point up or down the body or limbs
• A dull achy sensation that is felt locally around the needle
• A feeling of general pressure at the point of needling
• A distending sensation around the needle
• An electrical or aching sensation at a different point on the body away from the needle
• Or the feeling of a muscle twitching or jumping
Price List for Acupuncture Services
|Acupuncture Initial Consultation and Treatment||90 minutes||$120|
|Acupuncture Treatment||60 minutes||$80|
|Acupuncture Consultation Only||60 minutes||$80|
|Cupping Therapy||30 minutes||$50|
|Cupping Therapy||60 minutes||$80|
Direct Billing and Insurance
For your convenience, we can direct bill your acupuncture treatment directly to your insurance company. Direct billing is currently available for the following insurance companies: Alberta Blue Cross, Chambers of Commerce, Cowan, Desjardins, First Canadian, Great West Life, Industrial Alliance, Johnson Inc., Johnston Group, Manulife, Maximum Benefit, Sun Life and The Cooperators.
Please note that you may be able to submit your acupuncture services directly to insurance companies not listed above or if you have a health spending plan you may be able to utilize it.
Disclaimer – Services provided by acupuncturists in the private sector are not covered by the standard Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. However, for many, acupuncture services are included in extended health care insurance packages. To avoid any surprises, it is recommended that you consult with your private health care provider to determine these terms and conditions prior to your first appointment.