Acupuncture involves the stimulation of designated points in the body with the insertion of fine needles to produce a particular response. It is used worldwide and has evolved over thousands of years, now including a variety of needling methods. In modern medicine, acupuncture is used to treat hundreds of conditions such as musculoskeletal injuries, pain, infertility and mental health. Various health practitioners including physiotherapists, chiropractors and naturopaths can acquire training and certification in specific forms of needling and acupuncture. These needling techniques are commonly referred to as acupuncture, dry needling, intramuscular stimulation (IMS) or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture. These are valuable options from a holistic approach that practitioners can bring to your overall treatment plan.
Types of acupuncture we offer at Choice Health Centre include traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture, functional dry needling and contemporary medical acupuncture. A common question we hear is what is the difference between these types of acupuncture? Our team has provided a guide, explaining the concept and goal behind each type of acupuncture treatment as well as common conditions that are frequently treated.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Chinese acupuncture are based on the idea that each living person contains a life force or qi (pronounced chi). When this life force is disturbed, blocked or imbalanced then disease or illness is the result.
Qi flows through the body along channels (also known as meridians), and each channel is associated with an organ. All along these channels are a host of different points, and acupuncture needles can be inserted into each of these points to have an affect on that particular meridian and corresponding organ. Each of these points affects the meridian and organ differently.
Based on your symptoms, a diagnosis is made and the organs and meridians treated are determined from there.
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture can be used to treat many different conditions including:
- Pain (OA, RA, muscle and joint pain)
- Infertility (also support during IVF and IUI)
- Painful or heavy periods
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Digestive conditions (Chronic constipation, IBS, Inflammatory bowel disease, GERD/reflux)
- Menopause (specifically for mood fluctuations, hot flashes and night sweats)
- Smoking cessation
Functional Dry Needling
Functional Dry Needling is based on Western medicine principles and follows evidence-based guidelines using a solid filiform needle inserted through the skin into different areas of muscle. The needle is called a dry needle because no medication or liquid is injected into the tissue.
The area to be dry needled is determined by a subjective and objective assessment, the practitioners knowledge of neuroanatomy, and the overall clinical impression. Based on the assessment findings, the needle penetrates the effected tissues, where a technique known as pistoning is performed.
The goal of functional dry needling is to achieve a local twitch response to elicit change in the body structures, and ultimately restore function in the tissue and decrease pain.
Functional dry needling can be used to treat:
- Neuromusculoskeletal conditions
- Movement impairments
- Taut bands of muscle and tissue
- Trigger points
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture is a peripheral nerve stimulation technique in which acupuncture needles are inserted into specific anatomical sites in the body. Once the needles are inserted, they can be stimulated manually or with electricity to increase their effect. The purpose of contemporary medical acupuncture is to help regulate abnormal activity of the nervous system.
We perceive pain in three different areas: the site of the injury, the spinal cord, and in the brain.Acupuncture can help to change our perception of pain by modulating these different sites and stimulates the release of natural opioids in our body.
Goals of contemporary medical acupuncture include:
- Increase ability for the nervous system to self-regulate internal and external stimuli
- Increase muscle activation
- Increase blood flow to promote healing in the affected area
- Increase joint and muscle mobility
- Decrease pain
- Acute and chronic pain
- Sports injuries and movement disorders
- Muscle pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Nerve pain (sciatica)
- Joint pain (neck, low back, jaw, shoulder, hip)