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  • Writer's pictureDr Justin Gauthier

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest and popular medical procedures. Acupuncture is of Chinese and Korea origin and has been in practice for more than 2500 years now, but it was only during the last few decades that it began to spread rapidly in the western world including Europe, Canada and the United States.

Acupuncture on a patient's back for back and neck pain in Medicine Hat, Alberta
Acupunture for back pain

Acupuncture treatment is done by inserting very thin needles through the skin at strategic acupuncture points in the body. The needles are inserted to different depths based on the strategy of treatment.

According to traditional Chinese and Korea acupuncture theory, human body has more than 300 acupuncture points that connect to different meridians or pathways through which Qi (pronounced as chi) vital energy runs. 

Benefits of Acupuncture

  • It is safe when performed correctly.

  • Very few side effects have been reported.

  • A very effective combination treatment.

  • Very effective in controlling different types of pains.

  • Patients who do not respond to pain medications have it as a good alternative.

  • A good alternative for patients who want to avoid pain medications.

Research Indicates That Acupuncture Has Been An Effective Treatment For Many Conditions As Listed Below:

  • Headache: Acupuncture may be effective in alleviating symptoms of tension headaches.

  • Migraine: Acupuncture may be effective in alleviating symptoms of migraines.

  • Fibromyalgia: Acupuncture can be helpful for fibromyalgia, but the efficacy is uncertain due to lack of proper evidence.

  • Surgery: Acupuncture when used before and during surgery significantly reduces the pain levels and the amount of painkillers needed after the surgery is minimal.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Acupuncture may be helpful in treating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, but results may not be good always.

Acupuncture and massage for back and neck pain in Medicine Hat, Alberta
Acupuncture with massage for neck and back pain

Back Pain: Acupuncture for low back pain is considered by several physicians when chronic low back pain does not respond to the conventional treatment. A combination of acupuncture along with the conventional treatment has proven to be more effective than just conventional treatment alone for chronic low-back pain.

  • Myofascial Pain: Acupuncture may be helpful in treating myofascial pain, which pain occurs in sensitive areas in the muscles.

  • Neck Pain: Acupuncture has been found to be a good treatment for chronic neck pain. Acupuncture has proven to provide better pain relief than some other simulated treatments.

  • Osteoarthritis: Acupuncture has been found to be effective treatment for osteoarthritis, knee pain in particular.

  • Dental Pain: Acupuncture has been identified as a promising treatment for postoperative dental pain, especially following tooth extraction.

  • Tennis Elbow: Acupuncture has been found to be promising for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylar pain in providing short term pain relief.

Risks and Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is generally safe when performed using sterile needles under the care of an experienced practitioner. However, there may be some minor side effects.

  • Needles may break and cause damage to the internal tissues, but that is a rare case.

  • Collapsing of the lungs can occur if the needle is inserted deeper than needed in the upper back of chest though this too is very rare.

  • Minor bruises or bleeding may result due to the use of needles.

  • Please note that People suffering from bleeding disorders or people who are on blood thinners like Coumadin, are not eligible for acupuncture treatment.

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