What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a holistic approach which takes into account both the normal functions of the body and disease processes. It focuses as much on prevention of illness as on its treatment.
Officially recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO), acupuncture is a practice in which very fine sterilised needles are inserted into specific points on the body’s surface in order to stimulate the neurological, hormonal, and immune systems, which includes a biological, energetic response intended to restore health and relieve pain.
Acupuncture is part of an integrated system of primary health care, known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The origins of acupuncture in China date back to at least 3,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest and most long-standing health care systems in the world.
In order to practice the profession, the acupuncturist must be a member of the Order of acupuncturists of Québec, a profession recognised by the Quebec professional system since 1995.
Acupuncture treats a wide variety of health issues. In 2003, the World Health Organisation made a report specifically on acupuncture and recommended acupuncture for more than 20 health problems. As any acupuncturist can tell you, acupuncture treats a much wider variety of health issues. Patients consult the most frequently for pain (back, shoulder, elbow, knee, tendinitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, etc.), stress, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems (swelling, cramps, slow digestion, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), menopause, loss of memory, and tiredness.
It all depends on the health of the patient and how long they have been suffering with their health problem. These are only two possible factors which may determine the number of treatments. Usually, a healthy person will need fewer treatments than a person with many prior health problems or a chronic condition. Most of the time, a short series of treatments (3-5) is necessary to improve the condition of the patient. After that time, treatments may be spaced out more widely and used to stabilise the health problem.
The first acupuncture treatment takes about one hour and fifteen minutes to one hour and a half because many questions are asked concerning the patient’s complaint and their health in general. After that, a treatment lasts between forty-five minutes and one hour. Acupuncture takes into consideration each person as a whole, with his or her strengths and weaknesses. This health-care system looks more for the source of the problem rather than only the symptom.
There are acupuncture points all over the body. The acupuncturist uses different points for each patient depending on the specific needs of each individual. If a person consults for elbow pain, the majority of the needles will be localised around the elbow, but other needles could be far from the elbow because these needles help to treat the source of the problem. Acupuncturists use points on the arms, legs, and the back the most frequently.
The insertion of the needle gives the feeling of being bitten by a mosquito. The sensation only lasts for a fraction of a second and does not leave a mark. Actually, there is often a soothing sensation, which allows the patient to relax deeply during the treatment. It is interesting to note that patients often remark that acupuncture treatments are more relaxing than a massage for them.
The needles used are made with stainless steel. They are very thin and solid; therefore no substance can be injected into the body with the needles. The needles are sterile, one use only, disposable needles, which makes it impossible to transmit a disease.
I know that when I had acupuncture for the first time, I had a lot of questions. I hope you do too. Here are a few of the more commonly asked questions, but if you have any other questions I would be delighted to answer any of your questions or concerns.