Commonly Asked Questions
Many people, including some medical professionals, assume that acupuncture is a method of temporary pain-relief only. This misconception may have resulted from acupuncture being popularized in North America since 1978 as a form of analgesia. It is true that acupuncture is commonly utilized as a form of pain control, especially when performed by physicians, chiropractors, or physiotherapists. The main concept of acupuncture as practiced in China or Japan, however, is to harmonize internal body systems and address the cause of illness. Therefore, temporary relief of pain is only one aspect of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective method to deal with a variety of health conditions other than those causing pain. The WHO listed a variety of health conditions which can be treated by acupuncture, including organic illness. This is because acupuncture helps to regulate our physiological functioning. Acupuncture primarily affects our nervous system, which controls our entire visceral function.
NSAIDs may potentially have several well-known detrimental effects in your system such as gastric irritation and liver damage while acupuncture has virtually no side effects. In terms of the action on your muscle and joint pain, acupuncture works in a completely different manner than medication does.
Most pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medications provide excellent short-term pain-relief by blocking the production of pain-causing substances called prostaglandins. In addition to inducing pain, however, prostaglandins are vasodilators which help enhance circulation. By inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, there will be decreased sensitivity to pain but blood supply to the muscles and joints will also be decreased, thus creating problems and prolonging true recovery.
On the other hand, our acupuncture procedure produces the complete opposite effect. Except in a few very acute cases, we attempt to enhance blood circulation, especially in the area that there is pain or discomfort. This desired action can be achieved by regulating the autonomic nervous system (which is responsible for internal organ system functioning, regulation of blood circulation and production of relaxation effects) using specific acupuncture techniques. When circulation of the tissue improves, muscle relaxation occurs and in many cases immediate pain reduction follows. However, when circulation improves, the pain in the affected area occasionally intensifies, and is then followed by repair of tissue and muscle relaxation.
Here is an analogy that somewhat explains this healing recovery pain. If you have been sitting for a long time, your legs start to get tight and feel numb. This, as you know, is due to poor circulation (ischemic pain). There is some discomfort at this point, but it's not very intense. Most of the discomfort occurs when you get up and start to walk around and blood flow is re-established (recovery pain). In some cases, it is necessary to go through some discomfort in order to get complete relief. Proper circulation in the tissue is important not only for blood to nourish the tissue but also to enhance the elimination of muscle fatigue and pain-causing substances (e.g., lactic acid) thus creating healthy tissues. On the other hand, tight muscles with poor circulation are fatigued easily and more prone to injury.
Any prescription for good health must include prevention, not just treatment of disease. Acupuncture has been traditionally used as a preventive medicine. Recent research has now verified that acupuncture stimulates immune functioning which increases your resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Acupuncture also increases overall vitality and energy. Many people find that regular monthly acupuncture tune-ups are the best medicine to feel "in sync" and to ensure continued good health.
The location of the needles depends on your particular pattern of symptoms. But in general, needling points are chosen on the entire body. This is because we approach your signs and symptoms as being a manifestation of your body's disharmony. Some of the commonly utilized body balancing points are located on the forearms, legs and abdomen.
In recent medical practice, the doctor's personal preference or belief has played a diminishing role in selecting the medical procedure for their patient. Instead, much more emphasis has been placed on evidence from rigorous research. This is called evidence-based medicine (EBM). This trend has also influenced the practice of acupuncture and over the last decade, acupuncture has been put through serious testing according to western scientific research standards.
In 1997, the US National Institute of Health conducted a large conference where panels of expert scientists discussed the efficacy and safety of acupuncture based on current evidence. Following the meeting, NIH issued a report entitled the "NIH Consensus Statement of Acupuncture", which acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture in a variety of health conditions.
Yes, we have been using only disposable needles since the opening of our practice in 1999. Each needle is discarded into a medical hazard container after single use.
As with any medical treatment, there is a chance of developing unfavorable reactions after acupuncture treatment. Adverse effects of acupuncture reported in the literature include infection, nerve damage, fainting, and puncture injuries to vital organs. These complications, however, are exceptionally unusual, especially under the care of qualified acupuncturists. Tiny bruises around needling sites are not very common but occasionally occur. These usually diminish completely within a week. Compared with medical and pharmaceutical intervention, acupuncture is considered an extremely safe treatment with minimal chance of any complication.
It is true that not everyone responds well to acupuncture, however, it is important to remember that failure to respond to treatment from one acupuncturist does not necessarily mean that your condition cannot be helped by acupuncture. As indicated, currently in Ontario, acupuncture is provided by various individuals with a wide variety of educational backgrounds.
When we discuss acupuncture it is important not to generalize the effect and response from acupuncture treatment just like medication (for the most part, medication does provide an expected reaction from targeted populations). Physiological response from acupuncture varies greatly based on various factors such as practitioner's skills. In fact, experimental studies indicated that an acupuncture needle inserted in the same point produces a different reaction depending on a variety of other factors such as depth of the insertion, amount of stimulation, and position of the patient.
Unless you are taking medication, or have a specific condition that you are concerned about, massage therapy by a licensed professional should not require a physician's referral. However, some doctors may recommend massage therapy as a part of certain treatments. You should inform your therapist of anything that might be a factor of your overall condition.
We recommend that you communicate with your massage therapist regarding the pressure or style of the technique. Also, environmental factors such as temperature, draping, volume of the music, or scents can be influenced by your participation. If you do not want to have a particular part of your body massaged, you should communicate that clearly and early on to your massage therapist.
The client is recommended to remove all their clothes and jewelry except for their lower underwear. Women will be asked to remove their bras. Clients will always be draped by a sheet over their entire body except for the part of the body being worked on. During the massage, draping is not optional.
When a massage therapist goes to massage school, we are taught full-body massage. A full-body massage is the entire body except for the breasts and genital areas. It has come to our attention that some people requesting full-body massages are looking for sexual massages.
A massage every week is highly beneficial and recommended. Some of our clients want a massage two/three times a week, others once a month. It depends on your cycle whether it is weekly, monthly, seasonal, yearly, etc.
Breathe deeply and regularly. The more you breathe, the more likely you are to reap the benefits of massage. Try not to engage in conversation. Talking, except for communicating with your therapist about pressure, boundaries, etc. can distract you. You are more than welcome to ask your therapist not to talk to you as well. Drink water. During the massage you will release toxins into your bloodstream. This can be disagreeable a few hours after the massage. Drinking water will flush the toxins out of your system.
The massage therapy we provide is for your stress/pain relief, relaxation, and enjoyment. A Swedish massage is usually requested for relaxation, enjoyment, or stress-relief. Deep tissue work, a very strong style of massage is recommended for overly tight, hard muscles. Sport massage depends on if the massage is desired before of after the sport event. Neuromuscular work is for someone with a specific problem area they need addressed. Many massage therapists use an eclectic approach, integrating all these techniques, customizing the massage to what is appropriate for each respective client.
The effects of a massage are so numerous that many books have been written on the subject. Some of the benefits include better blood circulation, antidepressant effects such as mood elevation, mental relief, greater physical flexibility, pain/tension relief and stronger immunity.
Massage therapy is a great complement to other therapies such as chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, physical therapy and conventional medicine.
Massage therapy is also helpful for pregnancy, the elderly, infants, athletes.
Massage therapy is also helpful in order to improve worker morale and prevent repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome