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Acupuncture: FAQ’s

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

What does acupuncture feel like?

Contemporary Acupuncture Practitioners use a pain-free needling technique. Typically, individuals will feel a mild, deep aching sensation but this should not be painful. Occasionally, when the needle is inserted into the motor point of a muscle, the muscle will jump or twitch. Again, this is not painful and indicates that the needle is in a good position. After your first session, your practitioner may pass a small amount of current through the needles. This will cause a pain-free tapping/twitching sensation which will enhance the effects of your treatment.

Can it help me?

We know that acupuncture is a safe, NATURAL and clinically proven treatment option for a variety of different orthopaedic problems. Based on numerous clinical trials, The World Health Organization has deemed acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of the following musculoskeletal-related issues [1]:

  • Knee pain

  • Low back pain

  • Neck pain

  • Arthritis of the shoulder

  • Postoperative pain

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Sciatica

  • Sprains and Strains

  • Tennis elbow

  • Facial pain

  • Headaches

  • And more!

Additionally, acupuncture is a great modality in the treatment of scars (more on this at a later date).

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture needles are placed in precise anatomical locations in order to target dysfunctional nerves. These points are determined based on the findings of your individual, neurofunctional physiotherapy assessment. The needles signal for the body to normalize the neural pathways of the affected nerves by improving circulation and restoring normal electrical conductivity. With time, this helps to restore muscle strength, improve movement ease, promote better movement coordination and decrease pain. For more detailed information, see Let’s Talk Modern Medial Acupuncture.

Are there any side-effects?

Side effects are rare with acupuncture treatment. The most common side effects are minor bruising/bleeding and temporary post-treatment soreness. Occasionally, clients may experience mild drowsiness or a sense of euphoria for a brief period after their treatment. Truly severe side effects are extremely rare and can be explained to you by your physiotherapist.

How soon will I notice a benefit?

In most cases, a positive effect is seen within 1-2 sessions. Simple pain problems often require 6-8 treatments whereas chronic conditions may require 10-12 treatments to benefit. However, this will vary based on your individual presentation. The best way to know how many sessions you require is to book an appointment with one of our Registered Physiotherapists.

How is Contemporary Medial Acupuncture different from Traditional Acupuncture?

Contemporary acupuncture takes the traditional form and modifies it based on our current understanding of anatomy and neurophysiology. Contemporary acupuncture uses many of the same points and techniques as traditional acupuncture but in contemporary practice, needles are placed into precise anatomical locations with the goal of modulating abnormal activity in the nervous system. Contemporary practitioners design your treatment on a thorough evaluation of your neurofunction (i.e. the function of your nervous system). In contrast, traditional acupuncturists placed needles along theoretical channels (i.e. meridians) in order to restore the flow of “vital energy” within the body.

What alternative treatment options are available?

Acupuncture is second to few with respect to neuromodulation. That said, if you have a needle phobia or contraindication to acupuncture, there are other options available. Soft tissue techniques, joint mobilizations, fascial stretch therapy or a tailored exercise program can all provide neurophysiological effects similar to that of acupuncture. It is important to note that in all cases, these modalities work best when used together, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

By Kristin Bignell, PT

References and Resources:

  1. Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials. World Health Organization.

  2. Contemporary Acupuncture Information Brochure. Canadian Contemporary Acupuncture Association.

Disclaimer: All information provided by can at no time substitute medical advice and individual assessment by a qualified medical professional. recommends seeking professional advice before commencing any type of self-treatment, as the information provided is not intended to be relied on for medical diagnosis and treatment.

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