What is Acupuncture?

The Basics of acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient kind of medical treatment developed in China more than 5000 years ago. Sterile, disposable, hair-thin metal needles are pushed into the body at certain places called "acupuncture points" There are more than 2,000 such points throughout the body.

Acupuncture is a key part of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), also called Oriental medicine, using the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang.

Practically speaking, acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain.

These biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities, to help patients with conditions like infertility, sciatica and back pain, seasonal allergies, and fix any number of other physical and emotional conditions.

About Acupressure

Acupressure is the practice of acupuncture, but without the needles. Firm but gentle pressure is used on acupuncture points to stimulate them and create the same reaction as an acupuncture treatment would.

Whether or not acupuncture or acupressure will be administered depends on the patient and the condition to be treated, along with other factors you can discuss with your practitioner upon your initial visit.

What does acupuncture feel like?

A vast majority of people report feeling minimal pain during treatment. The needle is administered to a point that produces a sensation of pressure or a dull ache.

Some people report acupuncture makes them feel energized while others say the treatment makes them feel relaxed.

Instead of needles, other forms of stimulation are sometimes used, including heat treatment, pressure (acupressure), and skin suction.

For any of these treatments, your practitioner will explain the procedure and any sensations you should expect to feel.

We asked some of our patients how acupuncture treatment feels. Learn more >

Do I have to "believe" in it?

No. It's a common question, but there is no belief system or religion involved with acupuncture or Traditional Chinese medicine in general, nor must one have any sort of convictions to impact its efficacy.

Our patients come from many different backgrounds in terms of creeds, values, and religion. All are welcome.

What can acupuncture treat?

The World Health Organization has presented the following diseases, symptoms, and conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown based on data from controlled clinical trials:

  • Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Alcohol dependence and detoxification
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Biliary colic
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Cancer pain
  • Cardiac neurosis
  • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Competition stress syndrome
  • Craniocerebral injury, closed
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Earache
  • Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
  • Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Facial spasm
  • Female infertility
  • Female urethral syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
  • Gastrokinetic disturbance
  • Gouty arthritis
  • Headache
  • Hepatitis B virus carrier status
  • Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
  • Hyperlipaemia
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Hypo-ovarianism
  • Induction of labour
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable colon syndrome
  • Knee pain
  • Labour pain
  • Lactation, deficiency
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Ménière disease
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Neuralgia, post-herpetic
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Obesity
  • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain due to endoscopic examination
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
  • Postextubation in children
  • Postoperative convalescence
  • Postoperative pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Prostatitis, chronic
  • Pruritus
  • Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
  • Raynaud syndrome, primary
  • Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
  • Renal colic
  • Retention of urine, traumatic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sciatica
  • Sialism, drug-induced
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
  • Spine pain, acute
  • Sprain
  • Stiff neck
  • Stroke
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Tennis elbow
  • Tietze syndrome
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis, chronic
  • Urolithiasis
  • Vascular dementia
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)


I feel so much better and wish I had come to see Barry earlier!
— P.R.