What Does Medical Acupuncture Feel Like?And Can It Help Me?

By Athlete's Care on February 10, 2023

Our Toronto physiotherapy clinics offer a variety of services, including medical acupuncture. Many people have heard of the traditional Chinese practice, and wonder whether it might be helpful in their situation. 

The practice of contemporary medical acupuncture has its roots in Chinese traditional medicine, but is also based in modern clinical practice, delivered by a certified professional. Here are some answers to common questions about the procedure.

What is it? Very thin sterile needles are inserted under your skin at specific points, and then left in for a specific period of time, usually 10-15 minutes. Treatments may last up to 60 minutes. A course of 6 to 8 treatments is common.

How does it work? Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe they rebalance the flow of energy or chi through the body. Western practitioners are more likely to see it as stimulating nerves, muscles and connective tissues. They believe it results in a release of the body’s natural painkillers, which in turn stimulates natural healing processes. 

Can it help? Medical acupuncture is most often used as part of a treatment plan, in concert with other treatments or therapies. Your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist who serves as your primary caregiver can formulate a treatment mix that addresses your individual needs.

Medical acupuncture is typically used to help reduce or eliminate uncomfortable symptoms of various kinds and conditions. That may include:

  • Tension headaches and migraines;
  • Neck and lower back pain;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Arthritis;
  • Tennis elbow;
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis;
  • And many others, including labour pains and osteoarthritis.

Does it hurt? You should only experience a mild sensation, if anything. A mild aching sensation is common. There may be minor bruising or bleeding at the site where the needles enter the skin

During a treatment session

What can you expect from the experience?

  • The strategic points where the needles are inserted are located all over the body, and may not seem related to the areas that are causing you discomfort or pain.
  • Treatments may involve 5 to 20 needles, and your practitioner may move them in various ways. They usually remain in place for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When they’re removed, you should feel little or nothing.

Afterwards, you may feel very relaxed. Other people feel especially energetic after an acupuncture session. If you don’t feel any results after a few weeks, then it may not be the right treatment for you.

Note: if you are taking blood thinning prescriptions or have a bleeding disorder, be sure to tell your Toronto sports medicine practitioner during your initial assessment.

If you'd like to learn more about medical acupuncture, or think it could be part of your recovery plan, don't hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics today for a consultation.