Many people wonder what is acupuncture. What does acupuncture treat? Acupuncture is an alternative form of medicine that has been used for thousands of years and involves inserting very fine, sterile needles into certain points throughout the body, based on the Chinese energy pathways. Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites–commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. This stimulation encourages the body to release endorphins, our body’s own pain-relieving chemicals. It has also been shown to reduce pro-inflammatory markers in your body, decreasing inflammation and reducing pain. Acupuncture is extremely effective in the treatment of a variety of painful disorders and a variety of other conditions. At EWC, we take our time assessing and treating our clients for them to achieve the best results possible and walk out feeling brand new. Acupuncture in Ottawa never felt so good!
Traditional Acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine needles (as fine as a human hair) into points in the body called acupuncture points. These acupuncture points are certain points in the body that allow energy, called qi, to flow. Different acupuncture points have different functions, and fine needles are inserted in these points to treat specific conditions you are seeking acupuncture points and rebalance the energy flow. This stimulation also encourages the body to release endorphins, our body’s own pain-relieving chemicals. It also helps reduce pro-inflammatory markers, to help reduce inflammation and reduce pain.
Electro-Acupuncture is very similar to traditional acupuncture but uses needles with coils at the end that are able to conduct electricity. Electricity is used to provide the amount of stimulation necessary to regulate or modulate abnormal signals of the nervous system. It also substitutes for prolonged hand manoeuvring needed in order helping the patient get the amount of stimulation needed in cases where it is required. The stimulation is constant, whereas hand stimulation will be varied. This helps overall develop a continued stimulus to your troubled regions using this technique. Electro-Acupuncture can be used for many conditions, a few to list are:
- Muscle and Joint Sprains/Strains
- Post-Surgical Rehab
- Repetitive Use Injuries (such as tendinitis)
- Frozen Shoulder
- Back Injuries
- Performance Care Treatments
- Plantar Fasciitis
Cupping therapy is an ancient technique where either plastic or glass cups are applied to the body with suction. This suction increases local blood flow to help relieve tightness, trigger point, and pain. It has been shown that injured or muscles in pain are affected by decreased blood flow and increased lactate levels, resulting in even more pain.
Cupping relaxes tense muscles and reduces stiffness associated with chronic back and neck pains, migraines, rheumatism, and fatigue. Athletes have been known to use cupping therapy to naturally improve performance and reduce stiffness, muscle cramps, joint pains and scar tissue caused by injuries. It also helps increase blood flow and draws oxygenated blood rich in nutrients under your skin to the areas it is needed. Cupping can last anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes, and bruising is a normal side effect, which lasts up to 5 days.
Facial Or Anti-Cellulite Cupping Treatment
The facial cupping treatment has the effect of relaxing the tissues; it increases blood circulation and facilitates lymphatic drainage. As a result, the facial muscles are more relaxed, the tissues receive an increased intake of oxygen and nutrients and eliminate more easily the toxins and water excess. It is a very relaxing treatment, that in addition to reducing swelling and the appearance of wrinkles, also has beneficial effects for headaches, earaches, jaw pain, facial paralysis, and sinusitis.
The anti-cellulite cupping treatment causes the breakdown of cellulite. This stimulates blood circulation and the elimination of fats and toxins through the lymphatic system. The massage relaxes the connective tissue and the adhesion of the fascia promoting a smooth and healthy-looking skin.
Laser Acupuncture/Needleless Acupuncture
Don’t like needles? Laser acupuncture is an alternative to traditional acupuncture with needles. Some people simply dislike the feeling, however slight, of a needle penetrating their skin. Needle-less acupuncture allows you to experience the benefits of this amazing healing system without the needles. A cold laser is applied over the acupuncture/meridian points in order to cause the same stimulation traditional needles cause. Laser acupuncture is also effective and often shown to be as effective as needle acupuncture for a variety of problems. Effectiveness is enhanced because laser acupuncture allows you to treat points you otherwise might not be able to treat, due to patient age, sensitivity, or fear. It is also virtually side-effect and pain free!
The NADA protocol as it exists today consists of the insertion of small, stainless-steel, disposable acupuncture needles into five points on the outer surface of a person’s ear. The points used in the NADA protocol are Sympathetic, Shen Men, Kidney, Liver, and Lung. In most cases, patients are cared for in a quiet, comfortable room, which gives them ample space to relax.
Dozens of studies have documented the effectiveness of the NADA protocol. Among the benefits reported by patients and health care providers are improved retention in drug treatment programs; more optimistic attitudes about detoxification and recovery; reductions in cravings and anxiety; fewer episodes of sleep disturbance; and reduced need for pharmaceuticals.
Full Body Cupping/Acupuncture
This total body treatment takes the benefits of both cupping and acupuncture and spreads it along your entire body! The combination of treatments helps relax tense muscles, reduce pain, helps relieve chronic pain, migraines, and much more. This full body treatment will also help detoxify the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood and stimulate the cleansing of lymph nodes in the body. Athletes may also use this treatment option in order to increase performance and relieve muscles tension prior to the sporting event. Full body cupping/acupuncture may also help with the flu, colds, anxiety, depression, sleeping, allergies, fevers, aches, and poor circulation.
Acupuncture Frequently Asked Questions
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is not only one of the safest treatment methods around, but it has the least amount of adverse effects. Most patients actually find acupuncture treatments quite relaxing report little to no discomfort.
Do acupuncture treatments hurt?
Generally, acupuncture treatments contain a risk of minimal discomfort. The needles used are single-use, sterile disposable needles that are as fine (or finer) than human hair. In most cases, you do not feel these needles being inserted, and may only feel a slight discomfort in areas with high nerve concentration (such as the hand). Electro-acupuncture may contain a bit more discomfort than traditional acupuncture. Laser acupuncture treatments are virtually pain free!
What can I expect during my initial assessment/treatment?
Your Registered Acupuncturist will ask you questions regarding your lifestyle and medical history. In our clinic, your R.A. will commence by using an AcuGraph scan, a digital meridian imaging system used to analyze and document the energetic status of the acupuncture meridians (to learn more about AcuGraph, visit our blog).
After this scan is complete, your R.A. will commence treatment by first sterilizing all the areas that will be treated. They will then begin inserting these fine single-use, sterile disposable needles into the meridian points required to treat your condition. Your needles will be left in for a certain amount of time, with the R.A. periodically checking up on you. Once the treatment is complete, your R.A. will then remove the needles and dispose of them in a needle sharp safety container, and will provide your recommendations on your follow-up treatments.
If I do not want to have any needles, can I still get treatment?
Absolutely! You may still get treatment using laser acupuncture, magnetic pellets, and cupping therapy. Please do take into account, these treatment methods may not be effective for all conditions (some conditions respond better to traditional acupuncture). Speak with your R.A. to see if your condition qualifies for alternative acupuncture methods.
Is acupuncture covered by my insurance?
Acupuncture is covered by most insurers, but each plan may differ. It is best you check with your insurer if you have coverage for acupuncture performed by a Registered Acupuncturist prior to booking an appointment. Some insurers only cover acupuncture performed by a medical physician (such as a Chiropractic Physician) or a Physiotherapist.
What is the difference between acupuncture and trigger point dry needling?
Acupuncturists utilize the meridian points (or acupuncture points) in order to treat the condition affecting the patient. These needles are only inserted at a shallow depth into specific points. Acupuncture can treat many conditions such as musculoskeletal conditions, psychological conditions, skin conditions, respiratory conditions, bell’s palsy, insomnia, and much more. Dry needling is usually performed by a physiotherapist or a chiropractic physician, and the needle is usually larger than traditional acupuncture and goes directly into the affected muscle. The physiotherapist or chiropractic physician will insert these needles into a trigger point (painful or sensitive area in the muscle) of the injured muscle(s). They may then leave the needle in for a certain amount of time, use an in-and-out technique (moving the needles in and out to stimulate the muscle), or a combination of both. Dry needling is used only for musculoskeletal conditions and helps relieve muscle adhesions and knots.
Can children/infants receive acupuncture?
Acupuncture is completely safe for children and infants. As a matter of fact, since children and infants’ systems are more “fresh” than an adult, the needles may require to stay in for a shorter period of time.
Can I combine acupuncture with other forms of treatments, such as massage therapy or physiotherapy?
Definitely! Acupuncture is a great treatment on its own, or in combination with other treatment modalities such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy. It may even be used in conjunction with Dietetic Services in order to reduce cravings, improve quality of sleep, and much more.
Is acupuncture good for athletes?
Acupuncture is great for athletes. It may help endurance and performance by increasing blood flow, relaxing tight muscles, improving fatigue and soreness, as well as ensuring your organ systems are performing optimally. Organ systems performing optimally can have a huge beneficial factor on an athlete (i.e. improved lung function can increase cardiovascular capabilities).
Cupping Frequently Asked Questions
Is cupping therapy safe?
Cupping therapy is very safe and has little to no adverse effects.
Is cupping therapy safe for pregnant women?
Cupping therapy is safe for pregnant women, but some areas should be avoided such as the lower abdomen, medial leg, and lumbosacral region.
Is cupping therapy painful?
Cupping is generally not painful, but some patients may feel minor discomfort due to the skin and underlying tissue being pulled as well as. This discomfort usually subsides quite quickly as the cup sits for a period of time. Cupping therapy has a sedating effect on the nervous system, and many patients report finding this form of treatment extremely relaxing.
What are those circular marks that occur on the skin after treatment? Are they bruises?
These circular marks that may occur in some areas of the body post-treatment are called “Sha.” Sha resembles bruises, but does not cause any pain. Sha is an indication that toxins and stagnation are being pulled to the surface of the body, allowing and restoring healthy blood flow to the affected areas and restoring “Qi.” Cupping can affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing the tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, and activate the skin. It is important to note, these are NOT bruises.
How long do these circular marks last?
These marks are temporary, and will go away on their own as quickly as a few hours and as long as 10 days. They are not painful nor will they cause you any discomfort.
Why are certain circular marks darker than others?
The color of the “Sha” represents whether the tissue in the treated area is healthy, or affected by toxins/blood stagnation (blood not flowing properly to the area). The darker the mark, the more toxins/stagnation are present. Please refer to the figure which shows the different “Sha” colors and their meaning.
What are the benefits of cupping?
Modern cupping uses glass, plastic, or rubber cups attached to a suction device. Suction is then created in the areas requiring treatment, and the practitioner may keep the cups in place or slide them along large body surfaces such as the back or thighs using a form of oil (this is calling moving cups). Cupping helps by increasing blood flow, improving blood quality, relaxing tight muscles, helping filter toxins, and decreasing pain.
Who may benefit from cupping?
In simple terms: everyone. Cupping is great to help reduce pain in your average person/injury, or improve the performance of an athlete by improving blood flow and oxygenation of the muscles. It also may increase healing time by allowing nutrient-dense and oxygen-rich blood to reach the affected area, and improving the flow of blood in the area.
Is cupping covered by my insurer?
Cupping is generally covered by insurers if you have coverage for a Registered Acupuncturist, but this may differ depending on your plan. It is best you check with your insurer for coverage. Cupping may also be performed by a licensed physiotherapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist who possess a certification in cupping therapy. If you have coverage for these services, you will be eligible for coverage by your insurer for cupping therapy. It is important to note that it is more common for acupuncturists to perform this treatment than physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists.