The idea of acupuncture might immediately conjure up images of needles poking into the skin in modern therapy, but did you know that acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest treatments of physical pain? The origins of the acupuncture technique stretch back beyond written records in ancient Chinese history. Archaeologists have found acupuncture needles made from stone slivers, animal bones, and bamboo over the centuries. While the material used to make acupuncture needles has advanced over time, the roots of the techniques used today are much the same as the traditional Chinese methods. Acupuncture is used to treat chronic pain, stress, headaches, and more. Let’s dive deeper into the ways acupuncture promotes healing and rejuvenation in the human body.
History of Acupuncture
In traditional Chinese medicine, energy is known as chi, qi, or chee, and flows through our bodies. This energy uses pathways, sometimes called meridians, to travel through our bodies, keeping us healthy and balanced. When the chi is disrupted, we fall ill or experience pain and discomfort. Acupuncture is a method of re-balancing the chi by targeting specific points along the energy pathways by placing thin needles into those points. The needles help to redirect the flow of chi to alleviate pain and return the energy balance.
As with other traditional practices, Western medicine follows the same principles of established acupuncture but uses different terminology to explain the technique and results. Instead of re-balancing chi along the energy pathway, many Western practitioners describe acupuncture as using needles to target pressure points which helps stimulate the associated nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. This stimulation, in turn, causes the human body to produce natural pain killers which aid in the relief of pain and discomfort from the corresponding areas. It can also aid in the release of tension, stimulate blood flow, trigger immune responses, and provoke action in the body in many other ways.
Each perspective may use different terminology, but they use the same strategies and see overlapping results.
How Acupuncture Works
We’ve established that acupuncture uses needles at specific points in the human body to provide pain relief and other benefits, but how exactly does it work, and what should be expected during an acupuncture appointment? Let’s examine what acupuncture needles look like, how they work, and what acupuncture points are.
The needles used in modern-day acupuncture can be as thin as human hair and are made from surgical stainless steel. Each needle is designed to be used one-time only for hygienic purposes. The depth of insertion for each needle will vary depending on the acupuncture point and type and severity of pain being treated. Once a needle is in position, your acupuncturist may rotate or adjust it for improved effectiveness. Most patients feel a slight sensation of pressure, but there is usually no discomfort with needle insertion, adjustment, and removal.
Similar to trigger point massage therapy, acupuncture points do not necessarily line up directly with the location of pain or discomfort. You might see an acupuncturist because you suffer from pain in your left shoulder. During the appointment, your acupuncturist may not insert the needles directly into your shoulder but in other locations that will correspond to your pain point and provide relief. Your acupuncturist will review your treatment plan with you so that you know exactly where to expect the placement of each needle. Whether it’s the continuous flow of chi energy you feel being re-balanced, or it’s the trigger point being stimulated, these time-proven locations for acupuncture work.
How Long Does Acupuncture Last?
Once all the needles are placed at the specific acupuncture points, they are usually left there for ten to twenty minutes. When you book your appointment at Urban Massage & Wellness, you’ll be able to lie down and relax in our tranquil setting while the needles get to work. You can book a stand-alone acupuncture appointment or combine the treatment with other massage therapy.
Many of our acupuncture clients come in for weekly appointments to help manage chronic pain, boost their immune system, and reduce insomnia, among other health conditions. Other clients come in more and less frequently. Our specialists will consult with you on your situation and experience to determine the right schedule for you.
The Side Effects of Acupuncture
There are very few side effects from acupuncture treatment, making it suitable for most people seeking pain relief or help with chronic pain management. Appointments are relatively short and do not require significant after-care. We recommend our clients take it easy afterward. Exercise is permitted following an appointment, as long as it is at a leisurely pace. Our clients usually feel either energized or deeply relaxed after their sessions.
Benefits and Outcomes of Acupuncture
There are many reasons why an individual may be referred to an acupuncturist or choose to make an appointment themselves. Acupuncture treatment can reduce and relieve various body pains, including dental pain, lower back pain, and neck pain. Aside from pain relief, acupuncture can also help to reduce menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis, headaches, and migraines. Those suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea or postoperative sickness might also seek acupuncture treatment for help alleviating their symptoms. The one thing our clients have in common is that they leave our clinic feeling deeply relaxed, or sometimes energized, by their treatment.
How Acupuncture Fits into Your Treatment Plan
Acupuncture works well in combination with other massage treatments. Clients who suffer from joint pain or muscle tension in specific areas could see more substantial relief from acupuncture treatment before the massage. A few treatment combinations that work particularly well include acupuncture with trigger point massage, deep tissue massage, and sports massage. It’s also safe to pair acupuncture with other medical treatments, such as a visit to the chiropractor or physical therapy. If you’re concerned about when to book an appointment and the number of acupuncture treatments needed, we advise you to talk with your physician or our massage experts in St. Albert.
Acupuncture in St. Albert, Alberta
Are you ready to book an acupuncture appointment? Book your session at Urban Massage & Wellness in St. Albert, Alberta. Our certified acupuncturists will tailor their techniques and methods to target your specific pains and ailments to provide you with the most relief and relaxation possible. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, headaches, or stress, acupuncture can provide excellent relief.