Once regarded as a mystical form of Eastern medicine, acupuncture has grown from its debut in North America more than 30 years ago into one of the most popular modalities utilized in the contemporary health-care marketplace. Originally developed in China, acupuncture has evolved over thousands of years and has formed the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Many types of health-care providers now utilize acupuncture in clinical practice, including chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists and medical doctors . A natural consequence of this trend has been a continuing integration of acupuncture into a Western medicine model. Utilizing a blend of ancient methods and modern biomedical concepts, practitioners of many disciplines are regularly incorporating acupuncture treatment not only as a stand-alone therapy, but as an integrated modality in a variety of health-care environments.
Patients all over the world now seek acupuncture treatment in its various forms for a multitude of ailments including pain relief, headaches, arthritis, addiction management, sports injuries and general well-being, to name a few.
Acupuncture’s popularity has been further bolstered by the increasing attention it is being paid in scientific circles. Numerous trials demonstrating its effectiveness have recently been published in major medical journals, with more to come. Other interesting lines of research currently in progress include investigations into the biomechanical effects of acupuncture on connective tissue structure, function, and healing, and its impact on the peripheral and central nervous systems.
Traditionally, acupuncture is based on the theory that the body has a vital energy called Qi (pronounced "chee") which runs throughout the body in meridians. Sometimes Qi can get blocked, resulting in dysfunction, pain or illness. Inserting needles into acupuncture points along these meridians unblocks the Qi and promotes health.
Medical Acupuncture is the biomedical adaptation of Chinese acupuncture methods, and is an effective treatment approach based on current concepts of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and pathophysiology. As in traditional acupuncture, Medical Acupuncture involves insertion of solid needles at relevant points on the body in combination with manual needle stimulation or electrical stimulation. Medical Acupuncture does not involve tongue or pulse diagnosis. Rather, a diagnosis is attained through thorough history taking and physical examination. Based on this process, anatomical points that are relevant to the condition are selected for needling.
The future of healing is here and now through laser acupuncture. Laser acupuncture is the marriage of laser therapy (a.k.a. low level laser therapy, LLLT, photobiomodulation therapy, cold laser therapy) and medical acupuncture. It is based on the same principles of medical acupuncture but uses low level intensity laser light (photonic energy), not needles, to stimulate the body's natural healing processes. Studies in Germany state laser acupuncture is twice as effective as acupuncture with needles. Laser acupuncture is non-invasive, safe and pain-free.
Scientifically, acupuncture has been shown to increase blood supply, stimulate nerves and release neurotransmitters, including endorphins. These responses can block pain signals to the brain, decrease inflammation, repair injured tissue and help to restore the body's healthy balance.
Medical Acupuncture can treat both acute injuries, chronic injuries and associated symptoms. It can also have generalized benefits for the body as a whole. The benefits of acupuncture can include, but are not limited to:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified approximately 40 conditions that can be treated effectively with acupuncture. These include:
The McMaster University Medical Acupuncture Program: An Evidence-Based Approach to Traditional Chinese Medicine is conducted at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Continuing Education department. This program utilizes the most current evidence through clinical trials, and systematic reviews for point selections and applications. Advanced training also introduces students to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture approach. For further details on this program, please visit McMaster Medical Acupuncture Program.
Dave is an active member of CAMA (Canadian Academy of Medical Acupuncture).
Acupuncture initiates the release of endogenous opiates, the body’s own version of morphine. This can result in a very powerful pain reducing analgesic without the grogginess or other side effects associated with morphine.
Acupuncture stimulates the release of cortisol. This powerful and natural healing hormone breaks down scar tissue and adhesions in muscle. Cortisol also acts as an anti-inflammatory with none of the side effects associated with cortisone injections.
Acupuncture promotes the release of endorphins, serotonin, acetylcholine. These compounds are very effective in reducing pain but also the negative effects of stress.
With needle acupuncture, people usually feel a little prick similar to a mosquito bite when the needle is first inserted. Occasionally, depending on the condition, there is a dull ache or a warming type sensation around the point. On the other hand, with laser acupuncture - the procedure is totally painless (laser diodes are taped on the skin rather than inserted into the tissue). Many people fall asleep during acupuncture treatments.
Very few side effects have been reported with acupuncture treatments using sterile disposable needles. If needles are inserted properly, there is no risk to underlying nerves or organs. Any potential side effects and risk are discussed before you give your consent for acupuncture treatment.
Everybody experiences the effects of acupuncture a little differently. Depending on the type of problem being treated, some people may start to notice the benefits almost immediately while others need a few treatments before they feel a difference. Many become very relaxed while others may feel euphoric or energized. People who don't feel any different when they leave the clinic may start to notice changes in their symptoms hours to days later.
To provide you with realistic expectations, individual factors affecting your recovery time will be discussed. These factors and your individual health goals combine to structure the frequency and duration of your care.
Although acupuncture may help with many conditions and injuries, it will not cure a serious underlying problem, such as lung disease, heart disease, tumors or cancers. Therefore, it is imperative that you continue to consult your medical doctor, and maintain all essential medical treatment if you have a serious medical problem. A medical acupuncture provider will be able to discuss your medical problems, understand the results of medical tests, and understand what medication you are taking and why – so be sure to inform them of this information.
Dave is a graduate from McMaster University’s Evidence-Based Medical Acupuncture Program. This research-based program focuses on treatments and techniques that have proven to be highly effective in both quantitative research studies and clinical practice. Greater emphasis is placed on the anatomy and physiology of the dysfunction and the nerves, muscles and structures involved in pain syndromes. Medical acupuncture strategies blend well with laser therapy as the combined effect promotes a strong healing response, can free nerve pathways, break down adhesions, and release hypertonic muscles to restore freedom and function.
Serving the massage and laser therapy needs of Ottawa, Kanata, Nepean, Stittsville, Goulbourn, Carp, Dunrobin and surrounding areas.
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Dave Hanemaayer, RMT, CAMA
69 Beamish Crescent, Kanata, Ontario