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All about Physiotherapists and Acupuncture

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Physiotherapists and Acupuncture

It can get understandably confusing with all the different types of needling treatments available.

Medical Acupuncture or “Western medical acupuncture” is traditional Chinese acupuncture with the scientific method applied to it to explain its effects. Specific treatments and protocols that were derived from traditional Chinese acupuncture may be applied, but the theory driving the treatments may be different than what comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Your physiotherapist may treat with a combination of traditional Chinese acupuncture and western medical acupuncture. The only way to know is to ask them! Physiotherapists who learn acupuncture, in general, are taught specific treatments that have evidence-based medicine applied to them (to varying degrees). In contrast, a traditional Chinese acupuncturist may use all of the acupuncture treatments, whether they’ve been medicalized or not.

Acupuncture can have many positive effects on all bodily systems and may be used to treat a wide-range of conditions. Physiotherapists tend to use acupuncture to influence the neuromusculoskeletal system, but the intent of treatment may be different depending on the issue. Therapists may use acupuncture needles on their own, or with electrical stimulation. It may also be recommended to use acupuncture in conjunction with other treatments (ie. exercise) to have better results.

Many people report benefits from acupuncture but as with any treatment, outcomes depend on many different variables. Your physiotherapist should understand all the risks and benefits of acupuncture; these should be discussed prior to receiving treatment.

Please note

This article is not intended to be a literature review.  While some literature may be cited in some cases, this article should not be used as scientific-evidence of a treatment or service.  Please contact your physiotherapist or other appropriate health care provider to better understand the scientific literature supporting or refuting the use of a particular treatment.

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