Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to feel better?
This depends on which issue(s) you want to address and the duration of your illness. It is unlikely that your condition will completely resolve after just one session. Recovery time varies from person to person, but generally speaking the longer the course of illness, the longer the course of treatment is needed. Most acute conditions will improve with around 4-6 treatments, whereas more chronic, difficult cases will take 10 or more sessions. At your initial visit I will come up with a treatment plan and discuss the frequency of treatments you should receive. The treatment plan is flexible and will be reassessed with each session, so if you are improving quickly then you may need fewer visits than initially expected. If recovery is slow or the duration between treatments is long, more sessions may be recommended.
What does it feel like?
Acupuncture should not cause pain. The needles are very thin compared to standard hypodermic needles, however some areas of the body are more sensitive to needling than others (shallow areas like hands and feet may be more sensitive than large muscles). A few different sensations can occur, including a dull, achy feeling (most common), tingling, heaviness, or nothing at all. If there is a sharp pain that does not go away, the needle should be taken out and readjusted. There may be some gentle needle manipulation depending on your condition but it should not produce sharp pain. During treatment it is common to feel relaxed or even fall asleep, feel a certain part of the body ‘light up” and become more noticeable, or to have an emotional release if you are going through a difficult or stressful time in your life. Learn more about what to expect.
How does it work?
Acupuncture is a part of the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is based on the theory of yin and yang to guide diagnosis. There are 12 main organs which may be at the centre of imbalance in acupuncture, each with its own corresponding meridian, or energy pathway, in the body. Acupuncture needles stimulate specific points along these meridians to regulate and balance the affected organ(s). Acupuncture helps to regulate hormones, promotes circulation, increases white blood cell count to strengthen immunity, and sends pain-killing chemicals and neurotransmitters - such as endorphins and serotonin - to your brain.
What should I do after my treatment?
Take it easy for the rest of the day. Often times people will feel tired or dream-like following treatment, so it is important to rest. Avoid alcohol for the rest of the day and avoid strenuous exercise. You should also avoid exposure to excessive heat or cold, especially if you’ve had cupping or gua sha as part of your treatment. You may have received some lifestyle advice, stretches, or dietary recommendations, so of course you should follow those to accelerate your recovery.
Is acupuncture the same as IMS (intra-muscular stimulation) or dry needling?
The short answer is no. The title of “Acupuncturist” is protected in British Columbia and is limited to registrants of the CTCMA (College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia). A typical acupuncture program in BC is 3 years long whereas IMS or dry needling is a brief supplementary course taken by physiotherapists. Acupuncture is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and meridian theory, using a much more gentle approach to treatment without heavy needle manipulation, and can treat a wide variety of conditions, both internally and externally. IMS or dry needling is strictly used to treat musculoskeletal disorders and has no basis in traditional Chinese medicine. The method is usually more painful as the intent is to get the muscle fibres to “grasp” the needle, spasm, and then relax in order to heal. The only crossover between the two therapies is that the needles are the same.
Are acupuncture needles reusable?
No. All needles are sterile, single-use, and disposable.
Why so many questions?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is holistic in its approach to treatment. An initial intake involves extensive questioning of all body systems in order to get a more comprehensive picture of your health. You may be asked questions which seem unrelated to your condition, but for a TCM practitioner there may be clues within your answers to figure out why your symptoms are presenting the way they are and to figure out the cause of illness, rather than treating just the symptoms.