By Dr. Gayle Maguire, BSc, ND
Who is acupuncture for?
Whether you are a weekend warrior or professional athlete or performing a repetitive motion at home or work, your body may be pushed to the extreme. Working with chiropractors and massage therapists, I see many joint and soft tissue injuries, especially in the fall after a sport-filled summer. Often these injuries require a team approach, using massage and chiropractic to achieve some goals. Patients end up in my office when these treatments need extra support from acupuncture or nutritional advice.
Acupuncture is one of my favourite treatments for musculoskeletal issues. Studies have shown and have been verified by the World Health Organization, that acupuncture is effective for many conditions, including knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, arthritis, sciatica, sprains and tennis elbow, just to name a few. It appears to increase circulation and healing in injured areas, and reduce the sensation of pain.
What is the Philosophy?
Traditional Chinese medicine works on the philosophy that a person is healthiest when they have enough and well-circulating vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”). When qi is stuck in an area, the patient feels pain and needles are used, like taps, to open up the flow. Needling seems to improve range of motion and recovery time. These are valuable gifts when full rest and recuperation is unattainable. Again, summer is finally here, who wants to rest!
The full Chinese medical approach also strengthens the patient’s constitution, allowing for better sleep (whether poor sleep is the obstacle to recovery, or worsened by the pain), and improvements in other elements of the patient case, like digestion or headaches.
What can I expect?
If you are considering acupuncture to address your health concerns, make sure to look for a registered acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor. The practitioner should be using sterile, single-use needles. Most of my patients who admit they were nervous about needling are relieved to feel no major discomfort with the Chinese style, many needles are not felt at all. Some needles feel like a tiny mosquito bite. Once needles are in, the surrounding area often feels warm or tickles as the energy begins to move. Needles are generally left in one location for 15 – 20 minutes and may be magnified by the use of moxa or electric stimulation. Moxa is a herb that is burned over a point, while electric stimulation adds an electric current to needles. These do intensify the sensation of the needles and may help speed results, but can be avoided if the patient does not like the feeling.
Otherwise, make sure you eat prior and take it easy the day of treatment. Some conditions/patients are a brand-new person after one treatment, others need a few to feel improvements. There are different styles of acupuncture (Chinese, Korean, IMS, etc), so if you have tried one and were not sure of results, try another to give this type before deciding completely.
Results can vary from different practitioners of the same style too. For more information, book a complimentary meet-and-greet by calling the clinic at (403) 278-1405.