Medical acupuncture, sometimes also referred to as dry needling or intramuscular therapy, is the use of solid filiform needles for the treatment of musclo-skeletal pain and soft tissue dysfunction. The insertion of needles into specific targets can help increase local blood flow to tissue and relax muscle tension. The needles also result in endorphin release, the body’s natural pain relieving chemicals. Acupuncture is a very effective modality in treating a variety of painful disorders, both acute and chronic.
WHAT DOES ACUPUNCTURE DO?
Contemporary acupuncture is used to stimulate peripheral nerves in order to modulate pain/dysfunction of the nervous system.
- Increases perfusion and blood flow to the area/tissue (“reflex vasodilation”), which allows for more blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to enter the area. This assists in the healing process of the injured tissues.
- Restores and regulates motor activity and strength.
- Facilitates normal recruitment patterns of muscles.
- Increases tissue healing.
- Decreases adhesions between tissues which is caused with any injury to the tissue, whether it be a repetitive strain, or traumatic.
According to Westernized medicine, it is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system. Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called "endorphins". These chemicals mimic morphine by attaching to opiate receptor sites found throughout the nervous system. Endorphins help to block pain pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body's own internal regulation systems.
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF ACUPUNCTURE?
- Reduce/relieve pain
- Improved and faster recovery from injury, illness and surgery.
- Encourages natural, drug-free healing.
- Improve mood and energy.
- Improve function of the affected area
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of a thin acupuncture needle into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect. No drug is injected. The needles alone create the beneficial effects of acupuncture.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
The intention of acupuncture is to be a ‘painless needle insertion.’ At times, patients may say they did not feel the needle insertion, however, when the tissue is tender and certain target tissues are needled, there are occasions where patients may feel a brief sensation at the location where the needle was inserted.
In some cases, electro-acupuncture is used. Needles are electrically stimulated by various frequencies and voltages by attachment to a battery-powered machine using wires with small clips on the ends. Low-frequency stimulation (2-4 Hz) results in a slow onset of pain relief that outlasts the treatment for hours to days and is often cumulative by repeating treatments. High-frequency stimulation (80-200 Hz) results in a pain-blocking effect that is fast in onset but does not usually outlast the stimulation. Electro-acupuncture helps to enhance the effect of acupuncture on the Central Nervous System.
WHAT ARE SOME CONDITIONS THAT ACUPUNCTURE CAN TREAT?
- Acupuncture can help with most, if not all, musculoskeletal pain. Some examples include back pain, headaches, nerve pain, knee pain… and the list goes on!
- Other effective uses include treating anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, menstrual problems, weight control, and infertility, however as Chiropractors, our training and focus is in a neuromusculoskeletal perspective.