Category Archives: Acupuncture

Exploring Acupuncture: A Timeless Approach to Pain Management

In the realm of pain management, conventional treatments like medications and physical therapy often take center stage. However, there exists a centuries-old practice that has been garnering increasing attention for its effectiveness in alleviating various types of pain: acupuncture. Originating from ancient China, acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow, known as qi (pronounced “chee”). Let’s delve into the world of acupuncture and its role in pain management.

Understanding Acupuncture:
At the heart of acupuncture lies the concept of balancing the body’s energy flow to promote health and well-being. According to traditional Chinese medicine, disruptions in this flow can lead to pain and illness. By targeting specific points along meridians or pathways in the body, acupuncturists aim to restore harmony and alleviate discomfort.

The Process:
During an acupuncture session, a trained practitioner inserts thin needles into predetermined points on the body. These points may vary depending on the individual’s condition and the type of pain being addressed. The needles are typically left in place for about 15 to 30 minutes while the individual relaxes. Some may experience a tingling sensation or mild discomfort initially, but many report feeling deeply relaxed during the session.

Efficacy in Pain Management:
Numerous studies have explored the efficacy of acupuncture in managing various types of pain, including chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, migraines, and even post-operative pain. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals and it modulates neurotransmitters involved in pain perception.

A Holistic Approach:
What sets acupuncture apart from conventional pain management techniques is its holistic approach. Rather than just targeting symptoms, acupuncture addresses the underlying imbalances within the body. This comprehensive perspective resonates with many individuals seeking alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions, especially those concerned about potential side effects.

Contact us!

Take the first step towards recovery by contacting us today or using our online booking system to schedule your initial acupuncture assessment and treatment.

Balancing the Body’s Harmony: The Ancient Art and Modern Science of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular, yet many people remain reluctant to use it as a form of treatment. So, what exactly is it, and how can it help you? We answer these and more below!

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique of inserting fine, one-time-use pre-sterilized needles into very specific points along the body to assist in pain management and healing of injuries. Patients often ask us if acupuncture is painful. The needles used for acupuncture therapy are extremely fine – patients likely feel a small poke but once the needle is inserted, most patients do not feel much pain.

How Does It Work? – Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture was developed more than 3,000 years ago in China. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), injuries or illnesses are believed to be the results of an imbalance of energy within the body, specifically within meridians, which are channels of energy flow throughout the body. Acupuncture is used to help restore energy balance by placing fine needles at specific points along these meridians.

How Does It Work? – The Gate Control Theory of Pain

Although acupuncture is an ancient practice in Eastern medicine, its use in Western medicine is relatively recent. Though the exact reason why it works is not totally clear, Western medicine has several different theories as to how acupuncture helps with injury recovery. One of those is the Gate Control Theory of Pain.

The Gate Control Theory of Pain outlines how pain signals reach the brain from the spinal cord. In simple terms, if the ‘gate’ is open at the level of the spinal cord, a pain signal can pass through, reaching the brain where the pain is perceived. If the ‘gate’ is closed, a pain signal cannot pass through, and therefore the brain does not perceive pain. So, using this theory, applying a non-painful stimulus when someone experiences a painful stimulus can activate the closing of the gate and decrease the pain signal to the brain. An example of this would be if someone bangs their knee against a hard surface. Usually, our first instinct is to rub the knee (a non-painful stimulus), which helps us feel less pain.

What Injuries Can Be Treated With Acupuncture

Acupuncture can help in the healing process of many muscle and joint injuries. However, it is important to note that it won’t exactly heal these injuries. For example, if a muscle is torn, acupuncture will not repair the tear. However, it can assist in the symptoms associated with the tear, primarily by decreasing pain. Acupuncture has been used to aid in the recovery of a number of injuries, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, and mechanical neck and back pain.

What Are The Risks Associated With Acupuncture?

The risks associated with acupuncture treatment are relatively minimal. The most common side effect is soreness and/or bruising in the region where the needles are inserted. The risk of infection is extremely LOW since the needles are pre-sterilized and used once. Some people might feel light-headed or dizzy after acupuncture treatment, so it is important to make sure you are well-hydrated and have eaten before your treatment session. If you are pregnant or have had other medical conditions (ex., cancer, stroke, etc.), there are certain points or areas that your practitioner will avoid. This is why it is extremely important to be thorough when reporting your medical history to your practitioner.

If you would like to learn more, ask your practitioner to discuss whether it would be an appropriate option for you, or book an initial assessment with us here!

Is it Sciatica?

Chances are, if you’ve had back pain or leg pain, you’ve heard the term Sciatica.

So what is it?

Sciatica refers to an injury to or compression of the Sciatic Nerve. This is a very large nerve that originates in the lower back and runs down the back of each leg.

To give a bit of background detail… nerves innervate our whole bodies, and via electrical impulses, provide both power to the muscles and sensation to the skin. When a nerve is injured or compressed, we can experience symptoms of pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling.

Symptoms of Sciatica:

Pain that can go down the back of the leg (from the gluts, down into the back of the thigh, into the calf, and into the top or sole of the foot)

Numbness along the same area

Weakness in the leg with certain movements (e.g., does your foot get caught tripping as you walk? Are you able to walk on your toes?)

Tingling along the same area

Causes of Sciatica?

Disc bulges or herniations in the lumbar spine (the disc can press on the nerve)

Spinal stenosis (the canal through which the Sciatic nerve travels has narrowed due to arthritic changes and that can cause pressure on the nerve)

Piriformis syndrome (muscles in the glut area can get tight and compress the nerve as well)

If you are experiencing any Sciatic symptoms and they are not improving/worsening after 2-3 days, then Physiotherapy can likely help!

We do a thorough assessment to find the source of the nerve compression and provide:

Manual therapy techniques to relax tight muscles and help the nerve glide more easily

Additionally, manual therapy techniques can help take the pressure off from disc bulge or herniation and improve joint mobility

Exercise therapy to strengthen the back and core, stretch the tight musculature, and glide the nerve more freely

There are exercises we can show you that also help take the pressure off the nerve if the compression is happening in the spine

PT Kristina performing the slump test

If you’re not sure, you can always give us a call and ask one of our physiotherapists!

Other recommendations in the meantime:

Performing gentle stretches like the image above can help relieve symptoms!

Try ice or heat on your back or gluts

Speak to your primary physician regarding pain management options

Avoid exclusive backrest

If you are doing any exercises that aggravate your symptoms, STOP them temporarily

Reduce your general activity i.e. “take it easy” for the first few days

Alternate positions (sit, stand, walk) rather than doing one for a prolonged time

Do not lift anything heavy, e.g. >20 lb, especially from the floor

Do not ignore this issue for weeks because it likely WILL get worse and it will then take longer to heal…

If you would like to learn more or book your initial physiotherapy assessment along with treatment, book your appointment now.

Acupuncture for Diabetes

In addition to Western Medical Management, acupuncture can be a helpful addition to help manage diabetes.

Acupuncture helps release endorphins. This helps naturally decrease pain, and stimulates the endocrine system. There is also some indication that acupuncture can help manage blood sugar levels and bring balance back to the body.

Acupuncture can increase the speed of digestion. Slowed digestion can be caused by higher blood glucose levels.

Diabetic neuropathy symptoms can be treated with acupuncture as well as prevented.

Oakville rehab clinic with Physiotherapists, massage Therapists, chiropodist

We do not suggest using acupuncture as a sole treatment or management for diabetes. It is important to manage your blood sugar not only through medication, but with exercise and food intake. Acupuncture is simply a part of the puzzle of finding your best health.

Contact us to book with our North Oakville Acupuncturist for this or other health issues.

What is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome?

It is easy to mistake the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) for other things.

TOS is a complex issue that can take time to diagnose. This is because the symptoms can be seemingly diffuse and difficult to pinpoint.

Thoraoc Outlet Syndrome is a condition affecting the upper extremities. There are a number of arm symptoms.

TOS is caused by the compression of structures in what is called the neurovascular bundle. The name is just what you think. This bundle contains nerves and vasculature (veins and arteries) that move together. They are responsible for sending messages to and from the brain and spinal cord, and blood to and from the heart.

The area of compression of these structures is in the thoracic outlet. The thoracic outlet is made of the area above the first rib, at the side of the neck, between the collarbone and rib and between the top ribs and the muscle of the pectorals minor.

Some Facts:

  • TOS is more common in women
  • Structural anomalies, can contribute to the development of TOS. This includes having an extra rib, or differences where some neck muscles attach.

Types of TOS:

  1. Vascular – Is less common. It affects the blood supply in the thoracic region.
  2. Neurological – Is broken into true neurological and symptomatic subgroups.
  3. True Neurological – is called true, because it can be confirmed using imaging.
  4. Symptomatic TOS – is the presence of symptoms without finding anything in the imaging. This is the most common type of TOS by far. Because of this many people are lead on a “wild goose chase” of tests and imaging, even before being sent to Physio, Massage, or Acupuncture.

Signs and Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:

The signs and symptoms can vary between people. They can fluctuate and range from an annoyance to very painful.

  • Pain – in the neck, shoulder, arm or chest.
  • Tingling and Numbness – in the arm and / or hand
  • Swelling, coolness, visible discolouration of the arm / hand are more rare symptoms.
  • Tension or thickening in the side neck muscles (called the scalenes).
Man at desk showing tennis elbow being treated by an Oakville Physio

Yes we Treat TOS at our North Oakville Clinic:

We benefit form working in a multidisciplinary clinic where we can work together to help the same person. We are able to collaborate and bounce ideas off of one another (with a patients permission of course).

Our Oakville Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, and Acupuncturist are able to work within their scope of practice. This allows us to help a person with TOS manage their symptoms as well as improve.

TOS is generally treated conservatively. This means through the use of medications prescribed by your physician, exercises, and some hands-on treatment. Most cases do improve over time with consistent treatment including a home program.

Exercises for TOS focus on postures, nerve mobilizations, muscle strength and control of the shoulder blade muscles. Physiotherapists may provide some stretching, soft tissue techniques of tight muscles and mobilizations of the ribs and neck. Your Massage Therapist will offer gentle stretching, and massage of areas of tension. Your acupuncturist may provide acupuncture along the course of the nerves affected. This may help decrease the numbness and tingling, relax muscles, help with pain and help with inflammation.

photo showing Massage Therapy in Oakville

If you have been having pain, tingling, and numbness in the arm, we are here to help.

Contact our North Oakville Clinic. We service our local areas of Milton, Oakville, and Burlington within clinic and our Physiotherapists are able to “see” and treat patients virtually all over Ontario.

Acupuncture for Headaches

Headaches and migraines can really impact a persons daily function and quality fo life.

Finding a treatment that works for you is important in managing chronic headaches.

Many adults who experience chronic headaches and migraines, in addition to their prescribed meds, have success with alternate therapies. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment option for migraines and headaches that has shown to be helpful.

It has been shown that after three months of treatment, there is a decrease in frequency of headaches.

Most private insurance companies cover acupuncture treatments provided by a TCM acupuncturist.

Contact us to book an acupuncture assessment / treatment for your headaches or pain. Our North Oakville Acupuncturist will be happy to help.

Acupuncture and Physio to treat Bells Palsy at Oakville physio clinic

Acupuncture for Pain – Oakville Acupuncturist

Pain that persists beyond its expected period can impact a person’s life significantly. Sleep, mood, and activities of enjoyment can all be affected.

With more information on pain medication dependence, more people seek out alternate options to manage their pain.

Our Oakville Acupuncturist, Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists and Yoga Therapists can all be important allies when you are seeking to manage your pain. Chronic, or persistent pain is pain that persists longer than is expected based on what we know of tissue healing.

Pain is driven by our nervous system. You can read more about that connection in Physio Kristina’s blog post here.

Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful in reducing pain by 50%.

foot pain and custom orthotics in an oakville physio clinic

Acupuncture should be virtually painless. The Acupuncturist places the thin needle into specific points around the body. The placement of the needles are thought, in Eastern terms, to correct imbalances of the energy flow of the body.

In Western medical terms acupuncture is thought to help manage chronic pain by impacting hormone levels, neurotransmitters (ie. endorphins), or the immune system.

Like most treatments for chronic pain, the body needs to time to acclimatize to treatment for best results. Appointments closer together (eg 1x/ week) are usually best to start. As you progress and have less pain, time between your acupuncture treatments are gradually increased.

Acupuncture can work well with other treatments such as massage, yoga therapy and physiotherapy. It is important for your practitioners to know of other treatments you are participating in to help guide timing etc.

woman after working out showing Oakville pelvic health Physio

Your Acupuncturist will advise you on what they think will be best for you in regards to time between appointments, as well as lent of time of your appointment.

Acupuncture treatment is often covered by your private benefits. It is important to check the dollar amount in total as well as per treatment, so you have a full understanding of your coverage.

We are able to provide direct billing services for Acupuncture for most insurance companies, but it is best to check this with your individual plan.

Contact us to book in for an acupuncture visit in our North Oakville clinic.