Frequently Asked Questions

What is acupuncture?

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What will the acupuncturist do?

During your first visit a full health history will be taken.  The acupuncturist will ask questions about your symptoms, general health and lifestyle. A physical exam may be conducted as well. The acupuncturist may also check your pulse and look at your tongue.  All of this information is collected in order to identify patterns of disharmony and to create a complete, accurate and comprehensive diagnosis based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You may receive acupuncture therapy after the plan of your treatment is formulated.

How should I prepare for the acupuncture treatment?

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that will allow easy access to the acupuncture points.
  • Do not eat an unusually large meal just before or after the treatment.
  • Do not over-exert, work out, or consume alcohol for up to 6 hours before or after the treatment. Substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) may interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Make sure to have some time to relax and get some rest after the treatment, or at least not be working at top performance.
  • Make notes on your response to the treatment. This will help the acupuncturist to design the follow-up treatments that will best benefit you and your condition.

How safe is acupuncture?

Acupuncture treatments are very safe. The skin is disinfected with alcohol before the insertion of the acupuncture needle. Acupuncture needles are sterile and single use. After the treatment, needles are disposed safely in special containers.

What to expect during the treatment?

Acupuncture needles are very thin, as thick as a hair. The needles are gently inserted into specific points on the body. Sometimes the patient may experience a little tingling, heaviness or dull ache where the acupuncture needle has been inserted. There may also be a sensation of energy spreading and moving around the needle.  All these sensations are good and a sign that the treatment is working.

Acupuncture treatment can be very relaxing and some patients even fall asleep. After the treatment, you may feel energized or may experience a deep sense of relaxation and wellbeing.

How many treatments will be needed?

The number of treatments and their frequency will depend on the severity and duration of the problem as well as your overall health and constitution. It may take anywhere between 5-10 treatments to resolve uncomplicated conditions. However, chronic conditions may take longer to resolve. Some conditions will require one or two treatments per week for several months. Once the condition is resolved, the acupuncturist may also suggest monthly visits for health maintenance and seasonal “tune ups”.

How long will an acupuncture session take?

The initial session will include a full assessment of your condition and overall health, as well as the acupuncture treatment itself and will take anywhere between one hour to one and a half hours. Follow-up sessions will take around 30-50 minutes.

Are there any side effects to the acupuncture treatment?

Usually there are no side effects. Sometimes the original symptoms may worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, or emotional state may take place. These are the signs that the acupuncture treatment is starting to work and should not cause a concern. You may require a little bit of rest, but they will pass within a short period of time.

Do insurance benefits cover acupuncture treatments?

Acupuncture treatments are covered by the majority of extended health care benefits plans. Contact your insurance provider to find out if acupuncture treatments are covered under your plan. Acupuncture is not covered by OHIP.

Is dry needling the same as TCM acupuncture?

The dry needling technique involves insertion of thin metal needles into specific muscle trigger points to release muscle tension and pain.  It is used by Western practitioners such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, and others, and does not apply TCM principles and diagnosis. Practitioners that use dry needling techniques are not necessarily receiving the same level of training as acupuncturists and TCM practitioners registered with CTCMPAO (College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario).

Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?

No. Acupuncture treatments are being used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals that do not understand or believe in the process. A positive attitude may reinforce the effects of the treatment, while a negative attitude may hinder the effects of the treatment. This is true for acupuncture or any other type of therapy.

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