What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture stimulates the balance and flow of Qi energy that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is considered essential to health. When the body is healthy, Qi (pronounced chee), flows smoothly through the meridians that make up a conceptual network of pathways throughout the entire body. When the balance or flow of Qi is deficient or obstructed it may be diseased or susceptible to illness. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms and the root causes of the patient’s illness.

In North America acupuncture is often used when western medicine has failed. In western medicine, the yin/yang balance it achieves is known as homeostasis.

How does it work?

Acupuncture is an ancient, safe and effective alternative to medication and, in some cases, surgery.  Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones – through the insertion of needles into specific anatomical points (acupuncture points) to encourage natural healing. Therapeutic effects include:

  • Pain relief
  • Increased energy
  • Improved mood
  • Improved body function

Atraumatic acupuncture needles are rounded at the tip so that they slide smoothly through tissue and are unlikely to cause bleeding. Needles are left in place for 15 to 30 minutes during which time the practitioner may manipulate the needles in order to strengthen or reduce the flow of Qi.

Are there similar therapies that don’t use a needle?

Related techniques include acupressure which involves the application of pressure on acupuncture points using thumbs or fingers. Electrical or laser stimulation may also be used.

Is Acupuncture for you?

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture is a gentle treatment. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort. It is usually a comfortable treatment. Acupuncture needles are very fine, metallic, and as thin as a hair, making them quite painless upon insertion. Everyone experiences acupuncture differently, but most feel no pain or very minimal pain as the needles are inserted. You may experience a mild aching sensation or warmth around the needle site.

Does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture can be used to treat people of all ages from children to seniors. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain. It is the stimulation, by insertion of needles, of specific points on the body which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones. Acupuncture affects the functioning of the hormonal system, promotes a decrease in inflammation, increased circulation and relief from pain.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment with very few adverse effects and complications from its use. The York Acupuncture Safety Study, a prospective study of 34,407 acupuncture treatments found no serious adverse effects and only 43 cases of mild adverse effects, the most common of which were nausea and fainting.

Are the needles clean? Are they re-used?

Practitioners trained by Acupuncture Canada are taught to use single-use, sterile disposable needles and they have been trained regarding precautions and contraindications to acupuncture. The CAFCI designation tells you that the professional treating you is competent and safe.

How do I know a practitioner is competent, and is the right professional for me?

Acupuncture Canada offers an acupuncture certification program that meets the requirements of regulatory bodies across Canada. Look for the CAFCI designation when choosing a practitioner. And look for a practitioner who typically treats your problem. For instance, if you have neck pain, see a physiotherapist or chiropractor who has integrated acupuncture into their practice. CAFCI practitioners represent a variety of health professions and are recognized by their regulatory bodies. Use our database to search for a practitioner near you.

Is acupuncture covered?

Acupuncture insurance coverage is a c0mmon question. Many insurance plans offer coverage for acupuncture treatment. Contact your insurance company directly to find out if your plan covers acupuncture and any limits to the number of treatments its covers. Acupuncture may also be covered if you sustained a workplace injury or were injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Some insurance companies recognize the CAFCI designation and will reimburse you for acupuncture treatments by a practitioner who has trained with Acupuncture Canada. Some insurers will only reimburse you for acupuncture treatments delivered by a registered acupuncturist. Check with your insurance provider.

Although a health insurer may not always cover claims for acupuncture from anyone but a registered acupuncturist, you can be sure you are getting safe and effective acupuncture treatment by asking your healthcare provider if they have a CAFCI designation.

FAQs: About Acupuncture