"Classical" acupuncture is an ancient therapeutic method developed in China that has been used as a therapeutic intervention for over 3000 years with the purpose of diagnosing and treating pain and disease. It is one component of Traditional Chinese Medicine that, according to the Chinese, aims to balance energy and blood in the body to maintain a healthy life. Acupuncture incorporates the insertion of very fine into the skin and tissues on various areas on the body that are connected through channels known as meridians. The Chinese describe over 350 points on 12 meridians that are named after organs such as the stomach and heart that start and finish at various parts of the body. Although not anatomically connected, it is believed that these pathways allow for the circulation of an energetic force or Qi (pronounced "chee").
Even with its documented success, it is not until recently that acupuncture has been practiced by western medical professionals. The recent research on acupuncture has increased to the point where a more modern approach of acupuncture know as "Anatomical" acupuncture has been developed. This new approach has combined some of the classical views along with the modern knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology.
Acupuncture has been scientifically shown to decrease pain via the release of your body’s natural pain killers, known as endorphins: Endogenous (naturally made) + Morphine (chemical pain reliever) = Endorphin. These chemicals function by attaching to opiate receptor sites found throughout your nervous system. Endorphins block the pathways that send the pain signal to the brain, resulting in pain relief. According to the Chinese, acupuncture can also increase energy in the body, promote physical and mental well being, and some describe acupuncture as the best anti-inflammatory physical therapy tool that is available.
Everyone responds differently to acupuncture, however, most patients describe only minor discomfort with the insertion of the needles. Once the needles are in you may feel nothing at all or you may feel what the Chinese refer to as “De Qi”. This sensation is often described as a heavy, numb, achy sensation; much like what a toothache feels like. If you are discouraged from acupuncture due to the pain from larger injection needles, you may find it comforting that 2-3 acupuncture needles can fit into the barrel of a normal injection needle. Acupuncture needles are very thin.
One of the greatest benefits of acupuncture is that it has limited side effects and risk. The possible side effects are very minimal and include syncope (fainting), infection from bacteria on the skin or a non-sterile needle, and bruising from stimulating a minor blood vessel. At SEMI, all acupuncture needles used for each treatment are new and sterile, so the risk of infection is neglible. If you are pregnant or a hemophiliac, caution should be used with having acupuncture, however, select points can still be used.
As previously mentioned, everyone responds differently to acupuncture. Some people respond immediately to treatment, some require several treatments before they respond and others do not respond at all to treatment. Depending on the injury, as few as one treatment may be needed, while others may need several treatment sessions over a number of weeks before symptoms are relieved. Treatment sessions usually last between 15-30 minutes, but can be as short as a seconds. Generally I like to perform at least three subsequent treatments before I consider discontinuing treatment if no relief has been achieved.
Some people experience relief immediately with treatment, or relief may occur after a few hours or even days. The effects of the treatment can last hours to days and have a cumulative effect over time.
Before your treatment it is recommended that you have a light meal, no alcohol or barbiturates, for four hours prior to treatment. Also do not smoke tobacco for one hour prior to treatment. Following these guidelines will reduce the risk of fainting and will ensure that your body’s systems are functioning normally. After treatment it is recommended that you rest for two hours, avoid strenuous activity for two days if the treatment is for a painful condition, do no take caffeine or alcohol for two hours following treatment and do not smoke tobacco for at least one hour after treatment. Again, following these guidelines will help your body recover from the treatment without over stimulating your body’s nervous system.
Acupuncture is a therapeutic modality that can be used for a variety of both acute and chronic conditions. Whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, chances are that acupuncture can help your rehabilitation. So keep acupuncture in mind and ask your therapist if it can help you, because as little as one treatment could translate into long lasting relief.
We accept as well as cheques.
If I had to suggest a clinic, (and I have) to anyone seeking professional and competent care for an acute or chronic injury, SEMI would be my first choice. After dealing with a painful and chronic pelvic injury for several years, I can safely and happily say that my recovery would not have been possible if it weren’t for Dr. Stoddard and the staff at SEMI. I saw a number of health professionals and underwent a myriad of testing without diagnosis. Within 10 minutes of my OHIP covered appointment with Dr. Stoddard, I had answers and a course of treatment laid out for me. I had previously been treated for an iliosacral upslip but was still experiencing substantial musculoskeletal pain, instability, sciatica, and debilitating back pain. After my assessment, I discovered that the ligaments supporting my sacroiliac joint were damaged and lax, resulting in an unbalanced and unstable body that was tired of compensating. He also explained to me that this was why physiotherapy was helping but was not a sustainable solution. It took 6 rounds of Prolotherapy but the results were outstanding. Although I continue to work on strengthening my body, it’s been approximately 8 months since my last Prolo session. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t followed through with this course of treatment. My pain has all but disappeared; I feel stable again and do not suffer from any of the aforementioned symptoms. I received valuable, thoughtful and life changing care during my time as a patient at SEMI and owe everyone who contributed to my recovery a great deal of gratitude. Thank you!