What is Contemporary Medical Acupuncture?
Contemporary Acupuncture re-defines an ancient therapy, its mechanisms and effects using present-day scientific understanding of human physiology. On the surface this form of acupuncture looks very similar to that which is performed in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The treatment involves the insertion of small, thin needles in to specifically determined points in the body to achieve a therapeutic benefit. These locations can include the back, scalp, ear, and extremities. These small needles are left in place for a period of time, and then gently removed and disposed of appropriately.
So how does Contemporary Medical Acupuncture vary from Traditional Chinese Acupuncture? One of the big distinguishing factors is the methodology for selection of acupuncture points. A TCM approach to acupuncture is concerned with balancing the body's natural flow of energy or Qi. In this system the acupuncture points are chosen for their ability to regulate this flow of energy through certain channels (meridians). A medical acupuncture provider (chiropractor, physiotherapist, physician) selects acupuncture points based on a specific medical or neurofunctional diagnosis. The contemporary acupuncture practitioner applies treatment following a conventional (scientific) view and regards the acupuncture as having effects on local tissues, nerves, hormones, and the brain. In other words, the choice of acupuncture point is specific to the muscles, nerves, joints, and other factors identified to be affecting your health and wellbeing.
At times the practitioner may attach a small electrical device to one or more needles to aid in treatment and at other times may choose to use no electrical input.
How Does Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture produces many of its effects by stimulating nerve receptors in skin and muscle. This stimulates various substances to be released that cause an increase of local blood flow that encourages tissue healing.
Acupuncture helps to reduce pain locally where the needles are inserted and throughout the body.
Acupuncture has a calming effect and produces a feeling of well-being.
Acupuncture inactivates myofascial trigger points.
Acupuncture has effects on the brain and nervous system.
The effects of acupuncture accumulate when repeated.
The contemporary scientific explanation of acupuncture is that needling certain points in the body stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the brain, spinal cord and muscles. These chemicals will change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. We want to improve the biochemical balance in your tissues to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities, and promote physical and emotional well-being.
Can Medical Acupuncture Help You?
Acupuncture can be effective as a stand alone treatment or as an adjunct to other therapeutic interventions such as joint mobilization, active release technique, soft tissue therapy, and exercise.
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
Is Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Safe?
One of the strengths of contemporary acupuncture is its safety. Serious side effects are very rare. We use only single use, sterile, disposable needles.
If you have any questions about Medical Acupuncture or want to explore how it can help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!
Dr. Brennan Dynes BA, DC