Acupuncture was developed in China as long as 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Its use spread through ancient Egypt, the Middle East, the Roman Empire, and later into Western Europe. Needling did not become widely known in North America until the 1970s when diplomatic relations between China and America were relaxed.

Originally, acupuncture was part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a medical system with more than 2,000 years of documented existence, which includes the use of herbal remedies, dietary therapy, massage, relaxation and special exercises as therapeutic interventions. This modality involves the placement of fine, solid needles at specific points in the body. Heat application or electrical stimulation is often added to the treatment.

What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture is performed by health-care professionals with training in biomedical sciences (e.g., physician, chiropractor, physiotherapists), who combine this treatment with other therapeutic approaches, as needed.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing mechanisms, helping to restore physical and mental balance. Traditional Chinese explanations use the concept of restoring the normal flow of the vital energy that circulates along special channels all throughout the body. Modern research has shown that acupuncture elicits a complex set of responses in the peripheral, central and autonomic nervous systems, including the release of chemicals and hormones involved in pain transmission, behaviour, muscle and visceral activity.

The Eastern theory behind acupuncture is different than our western scientific way of thinking. Early Chinese physicians discovered an energy network traversing just below the surface of the skin, communicating to the internal organs at over 1,000 Acu-points all over the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s various organ systems. When this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened, an effect on a body system or anatomic location may become evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key Acu-points on the body may restore harmony to the affected area.

The Western theory behind this kind of treatment relates more to the effect that needles and stimulation of known points on the skin may have on the nervous and hormonal systems. The neurological theory behind acupuncture is called the counter-irritation theory of pain management. It is believed that the insertion of needles into the skin irritates the nerves and causes  decreased sensitivity to pain. An example of that theory would be rubbing a fresh injury immediately after it happens to make the pain go away. The hormonal explanation for acupuncture is called endorphin/enkelphin theory. These two hormones are known to be secreted by the body during acupuncture and have the same analgesic qualities as the drug opium.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

In the hands of qualified practitioners, acupuncture is one of the safest therapies ever used, with a time-tested record of millions of treatments, virtually free of side effects. Nowadays, the use of sterile disposable needles has totally eliminated the risk of infection.

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Needling does not cause any significant discomfort in the majority of patients. The needles are very fine (much smaller than needles used for blood tests) and do not damage the tissues when inserted. Most people compare the sensation to that of a mosquito bite. For many people, this treatment is a pleasant experience due to the sense of well-being that usually follows the treatment.

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment, or as an adjunct to other therapeutic interventions. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of:

  • Neurological and muscular disorders:
    • headaches, neck and back pain, sports injuries, sciatica, osteoarthritis, neuritis and facial pain;
  • Digestive disorders
    • irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhea and gastritis;
  • Menstrual and reproductive problems
    • dysmenorrhea, and perimenopausal symptoms;
  • Urinary tract disorders
    • prostatitis and bladder dysfunction;
  • Respiratory problems
    • sinusitis, asthma, sore throat and recurrent respiratory tract infections;
  • Stress and psycho-emotional problems.

To arrange an appointment for Acupuncture call LiveActive Sport Medicine Health and Performance at 416-201-9770  or