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Acupuncture: Relieving Pain, Discomfort of Common Medical Conditions

Acupuncture began in China thousands of years ago. It involves inserting fine needles at certain strategic points on the body, known as acupuncture points. According to traditional Chinese medicine, your body has more than 2,000 of these points. They are connected by pathways, called meridians, which are channels through which energy (called Qi) flows. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that stimulating these points is the key to correcting imbalances of Qi, and improving the flow of energy through the body. They believe that this helps relieve discomfort associated with a variety of conditions, including:

• Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
• Dental pain
• Fibromyalgia
• Headaches, including tension headaches and migraines
• Lower back pain
• Neck pain
• Osteoarthritis
• Menstrual cramps

It is thought that the effects of acupuncture come from stimulating your central nervous system. This may trigger the release of chemicals that either alter your experience of pain or produce bodily changes that promote a sense of improved wellbeing. Other theories suggest acupuncture may work by any one of these recognised benefits:

• Increasing the speed by which signals are sent through your body. This may aid the flow of feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, or trigger the release of immune cells.
• Triggering the release of opioids, natural chemicals that relieve pain.
• Alter the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Neurotransmitters either stimulate or dampen your nerve impulses. Neurohormones can affect the function or activity of the organs in your body.

Each acupuncturist has his or her own unique style, often blending aspects of Eastern and Western approaches. To determine the best type of acupuncture treatment for your needs, your acupuncturist may ask you about your symptoms and lifestyle. He or she may also examine the areas of your body that are painful. Acupuncture points are situated in all areas of your body and you may find that the acupuncture points your acupuncturist aims to work on are far removed from the area of your pain.

During treatment, you will lie on a padded table. Your acupuncturist will then insert between five and twenty needles into the surface of your skin. You may feel a mild aching sensation when the needles reach the correct depth. Once the needles are in place, your acupuncturist may move or twirl them or apply heat or electrical pulses to them. In most cases, the needles remain in place for about ten minutes while you relax.

When performed by a trained acupuncturist in Toronto, such as an experienced practitioner at Sage Health and Wellness Clinic Inc., acupuncture therapy is known to be generally safe. Serious side effects, such as infections, are rare. In most cases, acupuncture has fewer adverse side effects than many conventional treatments.