Frequently Asked Questions
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Acupuncture shouldn't hurt. I use a plastic guide tube to insert the needles. With a quick tap, the needle is through the upper layers of your skin. Tapping the needle in using the guide tube causes the sensation of the insertion to become distributed over a greater surface area, thereby allowing the body to feel a tap instead of a poke. I also use the high-end thin and sharp needles which are coated with a silicone coating allowing the needle to slip between the cells undetected by your nerves.
Your comfort is my primary concern. If the needle insertion ever does feel sharp, that means it has nicked a tiny blood vessel beneath the surface and this sensation is quickly rectified as soon as you let me know. There is no need to suffer, acupuncture shouldn't hurt.
After the needles are placed, the next step is to stimulate them so that they initiate a Qi (pronounced Chee) sensation. This means I am spinning the needles and finding the sweet spot where the needle connects with the body's Qi or life force which will feel "nervy" or "zingy" when that connection is made. This step is optional of course. If a person is more sensitive, we may skip that step – it is ultimately up to you. Overall, I strive for a relaxing and effective session.
Which Issues Can Be Addressed with Acupuncture?
- Sleep Issues: insomnia, night sweats, grinding/clenching jaw, bed wetting, trouble staying asleep, snoring, sleep apnea, night terrors,
- Digestion Issues: stomach pain, ulcer, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, IBS, hemorrhoids,
- Mental Health: depression, anxiety, addiction, bi-polar disorder, Breathing Issues: sinus congestion or infection, asthma, allergies,
- Nerve Issues: peripheral neuropathy, nerve pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Bell's Palsy (facial paralysis), trigeminal neuralgia
- Skin Issues: acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes, hives, warts, allergic reactions Thyroid Issues: hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's disease
- Arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel Fybromyalgia & chronic fatigue
- Muscle tension and knots
- Migraines & headaches
- Lower back pain & sciatica
- Dizziness, brain fog
- Sports injuries, tendonitis, bursitis, ganglion cysts
- Menstruation regulation – irregular cycles, cramps, PMS, endometriosis, fibroids,
- Fertility Issues: men and women, recurrent miscarriage, infertility, low sperm count, poor sperm quality, recurrent miscarriage
- Pregnancy support, labour preparation and induction
- Pre-operative preparation and post-operative recovery
- Cancer treatment side-effect management
How Does Acupuncture Work?
When an acupuncturist inserts needles into certain points on the body, they stimulate the body to heal itself, to bring itself back to balance. Electrical signals are sent through our nerves to the brain and as a result, hormones and endorphins are released. The needles encourage blood flow and the reduction of inflammation. The treatments are inherently relaxing because the needles trigger our parasympathetic nervous system which calms our body and mind. The chosen set of points is a recipe based on thousands of years of study and generations of Traditional Chinese Medicine masters passing on their knowledge. Acupuncture is a powerful tool!
Is Acupuncture Safe During Pregnancy?
Acupuncture is completely safe during a normal, healthy pregnancy. If you are unsure, just ask your doctor before seeking treatment. I have treated many women during their pregnancy and I enjoy supporting them during this (sometimes trying) time. Here are a few reasons to visit an acupuncturist during your pregnancy:
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Hip pain, back pain
- Nausea, morning sickness
- Migraines, headaches
- Breech position (best treated between 34-36 weeks)
- Stress, anxiety
- High Blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
I also offer labour preparation treatments that can begin when a normal and healthy pregnancy has reached 36-37 weeks. These weekly treatments help soften the cervix, nourish the uterus, ease the nervous system and calm the anxiety that comes with anticipating and "planning" for the birth.
After 40 weeks there are treatment options for women who wish to encourage labour to begin. Some call these "Induction Treatments" but practitioners could never ethically promise induction by acupuncture because baby will ultimately come when baby is ready. However, if your water has broken and labour has not properly begun, or if you are scheduled for a medical induction, an acupuncture induction treatment is a good option. These treatments encourage uterine contraction, further soften the cervix and vigorously circulate the mom's blood and energy.
Here is a great website summarizing some research done on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture during pregnancy. (Click Here)
After you have given birth, seek acupuncture for post-partum recovery, low milk supply and post-partum depression.
Can you Direct Bill To My Insurance?
Yes, we can direct bill to most major insurance providers. Here is the latest list:
- Alberta Blue Cross
- Canada Life (formerly Great West Life)
- Sun Life
- Canadian Construction Workers Union
- Standard Life
- Johnson Inc.
- Johnston Group
- Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance Plan
- Cowan Insurance Group
- D.A. Townley
- Desjardins Insurance
- First Canadian
- GMS Carriers 49 and 50
- Industrial Alliance
- La Capitale
- LiUna Local 183
- LiUna Local 506
- Maximum Benefit
- People Corporation
- TELUS AdjudiCare
- Union Benefits
- UV Insurance
- Equitable Life
- Nextgen Rx
- Local 793
- Green Shield
- SSQ Insurance
- The Cooperators
- Medic Construction
*We recommend calling your benefit provider because your plan may not allow for direct billing, even if you see your provider on this list.
*We cannot tell you how much benefit you have left to use, they do not give us access to this information due to privacy reasons.
*Please be ready to present your information at each appointment as the Telus eclaims system doesn't save your details for longer than 6 months.
Are the needles cleaned and reused?
Registered acupuncturists use disposable needles ONLY. They are used ONCE and disposed of in a sharps container which is taken to a medical waste disposal facility.
What can I expect for my first appointment?
In general, the first appointment has two parts:
1. Interview: During the first portion of the appointment we will sit down together and review your health history forms. I will ask questions to help me develop a treatment plan. I will also check your pulse (Traditional Chinese Medicine method) and look at your tongue, this gives me insight into your constitution.
2. Treatment: You will be asked to undress and get into the treatment bed. No special clothing is required, I use blankets to keep you covered. Acupuncture needles are then inserted, after which you will rest for 20-30 minutes with them in. I may decide to use electro-stimulation during this time. I generally leave the room to let you rest, but you will be given an call button to call me back if needed. After your relaxing acu-nap, I will remove the needles and either give you a head massage or perform Cupping, Guasha or Tuina, whichever I deem most appropriate to address your main complaint at that time. This first treatment usually takes between 1 – 1.5 hours. I will give you lifestyle recommendations and a treatment plan on your way out.
The first session is also an opportunity to clarify your treatment goals. What are you trying to achieve by coming for acupuncture? Pain-free, full range of motion in a particular joint? Zero migraines? Normal levels of anxiety? Quit smoking? Sleep through the night? [see below for a list of conditions which respond to acupuncture treatment]
It is best to approach treatment as a process and allow sufficient time for your body to heal. This time frame varies from person to person, depending on the nature of the main complaint, current lifestyle, and health history. In general, however, you should notice some positive change in the first three sessions, and more lasting change in six to ten sessions. In most cases I recommend monthly maintenance treatments to maintain the results obtained in the healing period and to prevent any other issues from cropping up. **I recommend booking sessions ahead of time, especially if you have limited availability – 3 weekly sessions is usually appropriate to start. **
My job is to provide gentle and effective treatments while explaining the modalities I choose to use. I will give you customized lifestyle recommendations and lay out a treatment plan that is optimal for you. I will refer you to another health professional if I deem appropriate. When you come in, you will find that I take special care to make sure you are comfortable and that each treatment is a great experience. I always welcome feedback on my services and I love to hear how I can improve and serve you better.
In turn, I will ask that you follow my recommendations and treatment plan as closely as possible. This will ensure a more timely recovery and a better experience overall.
Is the clinic accessible to people with reduced mobility (wheelchair accessible)?
Yes! If you come to the front door, there is one step from the parking lot surface to the sidewalk/entrance, however if you need wheelchair access, you can opt to park behind the clinic where there is a ramp to get to the entrance level - just let me know and I will be ready for you in the back!
What is Guasha?
Gua sha is similar to cupping in that it is used to promote circulation, release blockages in the body's energy flow and bring toxins to the surface. Instead of glass cups, a special tool is gently rubbed across the skin's surface. Painless red marks often result from this process.
How do you help people to quit smoking?
Acupuncture is an effective tool to enable one to quit smoking by minimizing cravings, calming the nervous system and strengthening will power. Acupuncture can only work if the person is ready to quit and willing to commit to the process. Acupuncture intercepts messages sent by the brain to the body that demand more nicotine, thereby disrupting the addictive process. It can eliminate most cravings, but not the habit. Generally the treatment reduces cravings from 20+ to only 3-5 a day. The person's responsibility is to make it through those few cravings.
Please refrain from smoking or using nicotine replacements for 5 hours before your appointment and avoid having any cigarettes in your possession.
I recommend 2 treatments the first week (at least one day apart), 1 treatment per week for 2 weeks after the initial week, then monthly treatments for 4-6 months.
Support Person: The decision to stop smoking can elicit uncomfortable emotions. Ask someone who is available to you in the next few weeks to act as a sounding board and provide encouragement when needed.
Affirmation: An affirmation is a positive statement repeated often to create desired changes in your life. Repeating the affirmation helps not only to remind you why you are no longer smoking but imprints a new image of health so that the body can then produce health. Examples: "I am a non-smoker. I make healthy choices in my life."
Setting Boundaries: Ask smokers in your life to refrain from smoking in your presence, this includes spouses. Some find it useful to draft a written contract between them. Whenever possible, stay away from smokers until you feel more confident with your non-smoking health status.
Drink water: Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day.
Refrain from drinking coffee: Research shows that coffee causes cravings and dehydrates the body.
Food choices: Eat plenty of carrots, celery and other vegetables throughout the next few days. Sweets, candies and chocolate spike blood-sugar levels and can aggravate withdrawal symptoms. Sugar substitutes such as NutraSweet are sweeter than sugar and cause further sugar cravings.
Managing cravings: Cravings feel like they will last forever but actually fade in two minutes. Plan what you will do during a craving. Examples: Repeat your affirmation; breathe deeply; walk to another place; do some push ups or some other exercise; sing a song; dance; call your support person.
Where are you located and where can I park?
Thrive Acupuncture is located on the west side of Edmonton in the Glenwood Neighbourhood. Landmarks nearby are the Mayfield Shopping Center, the West Side Police Station and the Big Boot that used to be part of the Western Boot Factory. Look for a business within the West Edmonton Commerce Park - made up of commercial condos. There is plenty of free parking all around the area and you should be able to find a spot within a few paces of my front door.