What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 5,000 years ago. The intent of acupuncture is to promote health and alleviate pain and suffering. The method by which this is accomplished, though it may seem strange and mysterious to many, has withstood the test of time and continues to be validated today.

Acupuncture uses fine, slender needles to stimulate areas along specific areas of the body. There are over 500 specific acupuncture points located on our body. Each acupuncture point elicits a different response to our nervous system, endocrine system, hormonal system, and vascular system. In this manner, it can re-program any malfunctioning organ or signaling system.

How does Acupuncture work?

Several processes have been proposed to explain the effects of acupuncture, with a primary focus on pain. Acupuncture points are known to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. There are three main mechanisms:

Conduction of electromagnetic signals: scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.

Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.

Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated. Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.

What does it treat?

Please refer to our “Conditions Treated” section on our website for more information.

Does my medical insurance cover acupuncture treatments?

Most workplace Extended Health Benefits do cover the cost of acupuncture. Check with your insurance company to see what your policy offers and to what extent. Currently, OHIP does not cover acupuncture treatments.

Does Pain Stop provide direct billing for Acupuncture treatments?

No. We do not currently bill directly to your insurance provider. Cash, debit and all major credit cards are accepted. At the time of payment, we will provide you with an invoice that you can submit to your private insurance provider for reimbursement.

Is Acupuncture just a placebo effect?

No. Acupuncture has a good effect even on animals, small children/babies, and non-believers. There have been numerous third-party studies validating the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

How long is each acupuncture treatment?

Each acupuncture treatment typically takes 30 minutes. After the needles are inserted, it is important to rest and relax while the body attunes to the improved state of blood flow.

Patients are usually suggested a treatment frequency of 1-3 sessions per week, depending on the condition being treated.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

When patients try acupuncture for the first time, they are usually amazed by how much it DOES NOT hurt. Most patients will arrive expecting a similar feeling to that of a hypodermic needle, the needle doctors’ use for injections or withdrawing blood. However, acupuncture needles are much thinner, and non-hollow. Thus, they do not cut out a section of the skin and tissue, but rather smoothly divide the tissue, allowing for much less pain. However, as this is a medicine based on muscle and nerve stimulation, some sensations should be felt to yield maximum results. If you want to try acupuncture but are nervous, just let me know and I will work with you to keep needle size and retention time to a minimum. Upon the first visit I will talk with you regarding your sensitivity to pain and adjust the treatment accordingly.

Can I still get Acupuncture if I’m afraid of needles?

If you are considering trying acupuncture but are afraid or sensitive to needling therapies, consult with me first to express your concerns and to discuss alternative treatment options. You will have the opportunity to see the needles and try a demonstration first if you desire. Some alternative therapies include cupping, gua-sha (scraping technique) and massage technique. Choosing different types of therapies gives me the ability to offer creative multi-directional treatment approaches for you.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of acupuncture are usually very minimal, especially when compared to the side effects of modern pharmaceuticals. Possible adverse reactions may include:

  • Minor bruising
  • Minor soreness in needling location
  • Slight dizziness
Typically, the patient feels few side effects, but rather increased side benefits. Since acupuncture has the function of increasing the body’s circulation and stimulating the nervous system, most people report that they have increased energy, improved sleep, and a decrease in other symptoms, none of which were specifically being addressed during the treatment.

Where will you put the needles?

Selection of acupuncture points is done on a case-by-case basis, thus making it necessary to do a thorough medical examination before treatment is performed.

Due to the unique nature of the acupuncture style employed at Pain Stop, most of the needling is performed below the elbows and knees, making it unnecessary to remove any clothing. This style of acupuncture employs the use of acupuncture points away (distal) from the area being treated. This method of acupuncture is very different to most clinics, but has shown much greater effects than typical local needling. For example, a patient with back pain would receive needles on specific points in the body (primarily arms/hands), and feel a great relief of pain almost instantly.

Do you re-use needles?

No, never! Every needle is a single-use, sterile needle. Once it is used, it is properly disposed of. Every patient gets new needles opened at the time of treatment.

What should I wear during an Acupuncture treatment?

It is best to wear comfortable, loose clothing. Feel free to bring shorts and a t-shirt to change into.

What should I do after an Acupuncture treatment?

Rest, relax and recover. I usually recommend drinking additional water to flush out the fluid we release. It is not uncommon to have slight post-workout soreness for 24 hours following treatment, and I find that this is lessened by rest, water and Epsom salt baths. The magnesium in Epsom salt is great for muscle relaxation, and the heat of a bath helps increase blood flow.

What activities should I avoid following an Acupuncture treatment?

Strenuous physical activities (including exercise) should be avoided for at least two hours after treatment.

A good feeling after acupuncture should not be mistaken for full recovery. Be sure that you have regained your strength and stamina before engaging in any activities that you were unable to perform before your acupuncture treatments.

How long will it take to get better?

Due to the specialized style of acupuncture practiced at the clinic, patients experiencing pain will observe almost immediate effects on their first visit. However, everyone holds the treatments at different rates, thus a patients “rate of response” must be determined after a few sessions. As a rule of thumb, for every year you have had a condition, it will take a month to relieve it.

Yes. The method of acupuncture practiced at Pain Stop does not require needling on the trunk, thus there is no risk of any organ damage. There is no risk of nerve damage as the needles are extremely thin and not rough enough to cut through a nerve like a knife would. All needles used are pre-sterilized and disposed of after use.

Do I need a doctor to refer me to Pain Stop?

Patients do not need a referral to be treated with acupuncture. However, some private insurance companies may require a doctor’s referral. Please check with your private insurance company before making an appointment. If a doctor’s note is required, one can be obtained by a physician where we are located within the Urgent Care Centre.

Can I get Acupuncture treatments if I’m under the care of my general physician or any other healthcare provider (Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, etc.)?

Yes, acupuncture and Western medical treatments can be given in tandem with prescription and over the counter medicines.

How do I schedule an appointment?

To schedule an appointment for acupuncture, contact me via phone, email, or use the online booking feature found on the contact page.