Acupuncture is a highly effective ancient healing treatment that is being offered by rehab specialist chiropractor, Dr. Katie at Lawrence Park Health and Wellness Clinic, at Yonge and Eglinton, in Toronto. Practitioners at our midtown multi-disciplinary clinic are fully certified in medical acupuncture (which is a modification of the traditional Chinese form), where scientific understanding of anatomy, neurology and human physiology are utilized to select specific points in the body. This evidence-based, medical approach to acupuncture is a gentle therapy to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, promote healing and healthy blood flow, enhance faulty movement patterns and improve performance as well as overall well-being. In simple terms, medical acupuncture provides treatment for conditions involving the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, and nerves of the body. Medical acupuncture treatment at our clinic does not include treatments for: hormonal or systemic issues (for example, issues with eyesight or hearing, libido, infertility, menopause, genitourinary problems, addiction, or psychological issues). Many health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), have recognized medical acupuncture as a safe and highly effective modality in treating many musculoskeletal conditions (i.e. issues related to the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones of the body).
How Does Acupuncture Work?
A variety of scientifically proven physiological changes occur in your body during an acupuncture treatment:
- > Inhibits pain signals to the brain
- > Stimulates production of natural healing hormones
- > Improves nerve conduction & function
- > Reduces inflammation
- > Improves blood flow
- > Stress reduction
- > Decreases muscle tension
- > Reduces scar tissue
- > Promotes healing
- > Restores range of motion
- > Improves immune system
- > Improves muscle function
How is Medical Acupuncture Performed?
Target structures are selected based on the examination findings and single-use-only, sterile needles are inserted with the aim of stimulating a healing response. Electrical acupuncture or EA stimulation of the needles may sometimes be utilized to amplify the healing effect; this is done by using special electrodes to connect the needles to a TENS unit and stimulating the needles (and thus your body part being treated!) with a very specific frequency, depending on your injury. Intramuscular stimulation of the needles, or IMS acupuncture is an anatomy specific form of acupuncture performed by specially trained therapists, and is also used at our clinic. IMS uses neurophysiology to identify and treat underlying nerve irritation(s) and muscle dysfunction(s); this is done by inserting the acupuncture needle into the affected area and very carefully and specifically manipulating manually in order to treat the injured tissue. In essence, the needle becomes an extension of the practitioners hand to feel and treat inside the muscle tissue – this is a very effective way to treat stubborn trigger points, fascial adhesions, built up scar tissue, and muscles that aren’t working properly.
For acupuncture to be most effective, a complex strategy of needle insertion is utilized to stimulate responses on 3 different levels:
- > To directly affect muscles, joints, ligaments or other tissues involved in the dysfunction (local level)
- > Targeting the nerves that supply the area at the spinal level (segmental level)
- > Adding special traditional Chinese acupuncture points for a direct or reflexive response (systemic level)
At our clinic, your Toronto acupuncture treatment will often be done in combination with other manual therapy techniques, including Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique, soft tissue work on your muscles, spinal / joint manipulations or mobilizations, stretching, rehabilitative exercises, etc. Combining acupuncture with physiotherapy and / or chiropractic care often gives effective, longer-lasting results!
What Does Acupuncture Feel Like & is it Safe?
Dr. Katie practices Contemporary Medical Acupuncture, in which a painless needling technique is used. Did you know that the needles we use are only 0.22 mm or less in diameter? These needles are very different than the needles you are likely familiar with at your medical doctor’s office – unlike a needle used for a vaccination, acupuncture needles are very thin, flexible, specially coated and designed specifically for your comfort during an acupuncture treatment. You may feel a small prick as the needle is inserted and sometimes a bit of a dull ache or warmth once the needle is in place – this sensation is actually a good thing and can indicate that your body is responding well to the acupuncture treatment! Traditional practitioners might suggest that this sensation has to do with the Qi (“chi”) or innate flow of energy in your body stimulating healing; however, in western medicine, we associate this with a local controlled inflammatory response, which helps to promote healthy blood flow, nervous system stimulation and healing. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years; it is extremely safe and has been shown to be an effective method of treatment for many neuromusculoskeletal conditions and other ailments, as well as a great way to maintain good health and general well-being. As with any medical procedure, there can be some side effects including minor bleeding, bruising, infection, nausea and dizziness. Side effects are rare, and the needles used at Lawrence Park Health Clinic are always sterile single-use disposable needles, which helps to prevent infections.
Who Can Benefit From Acupuncture?
- > Neck & Back Pain
- > Shoulder pain & Rotator Cuff Injuries
- > Elbow & forearm pain
- > Carpal Tunnel & Wrist pain
- > Hip & knee injuries
- > Shin Splints
- > Ankle Sprains & Plantar fasciitis
- > Headaches & Nausea (including morning sickness)
- > Ligament Injuries
- > Muscular Strains
- > Pregnancy Related Issues (Breech Baby)
- > Arthritis Conditions
- > Stress & Insomnia
How Many Acupuncture Treatments Does it Take to Get Better?
This depends on the condition and person being treated. If the condition is fairly new and uncomplicated, a patient may only need four to six acupuncture treatments. However, if it is more serious or a chronic condition, the patient may require more acupuncture treatments. This is something that your therapist will discuss with you after going through a complete medical history and performing an exam of your body part to be treated – no two patients and no two cases are ever the same – we tailor your treatment to you, and only you!
How Long Does Each Acupuncture Treatment Take?
The first visit will include a full assessment and takes approximately 40 minutes. Subsequent treatments range from 30-40 minutes depending on what other therapies (i.e. rehabilitation, ART, Graston) are also performed.
Do Insurance Plans Cover Acupuncture?
The majority of Canadian workers have partial or full coverage for acupuncture services in their workplace health care plans. OHIP does not cover acupuncture services. After treatment at our clinic, each patient is provided with a detailed invoice detailing the services provided, the credentials of the treating acupuncture provider, as well as payment details for reimbursement. Please note: At Lawrence Park Health Clinic, we provide Medical Acupuncture – this is DIFFERENT than Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture, which is provided by a TCM practitioner (Traditional Chinese Medicine Provider / Herbalist). Our practitioners are University level, medically trained acupuncture providers and do not practice herbology or Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each individual’s insurance plan is different – please check with your insurance company prior to receiving treatment to ensure that your plan covers medical acupuncture. If you are unsure, we are always happy to speak to your insurance company, so feel free to have them give us a call!
In summary, the goals of medical acupuncture are to provide clinical improvements in your condition or symptoms through the activation of the body’s natural pain control and healing mechanisms. Acupuncture is awesome and if you are even just the slightest bit curious, contact me to find out more!