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What is Acupuncture?

You’ve probably heard about it but don’t know exactly what it is, right? Acupuncture literally means to puncture with a needle. It’s an ancient treatment method that is widely recognized as the primary component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Despite having deep-seated roots in China, an adaptation of TCM acupuncture called Western or Medical acupuncture has also emerged in recent years. In both forms (TCM and medical acupuncture), treatments involve the insertion of very small, hair-thin needles into specific points on the body where they are gently stimulated to elicit a therapeutic/healing response. Acupuncture, in a broad sense, may include traditional body needling, electric acupuncture (electro-acupuncture), laser acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture involving the ear, face, hand and/or scalp, as well as acupressure (the application of pressure at selected sites). Lethbridge Acupuncture

What’s the difference between TCM and Medical Acupuncture?

According to TCM theory, there are twelve energy channels called “meridians” running vertically along the length of the human body. It is thought that illness is caused by an obstruction in the flow of energy at certain points along the meridians. Acupuncture therapy is proposed to stimulate the flow of energy, also known as ‘‘qi’’ (pronounced “chee”), through the meridians to restore health and balance to the body and mind. As such, TCM acupuncture is used to treat not only pain-centered conditions, but also a variety of non-pain conditions that include but are not limited to gastrointestinal problems (nausea, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, IBS), gynecological issues (PMS, cramps, irregular cycles, infertility, hot flushes), and psycho-emotional conditions (insomnia, depression, anxiety, addictions). Lethbridge acupuncture

In contrast, medical acupuncture theory uses current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology to relieve pain, alter movement patterns, and restore or improve functional performance by modulating abnormal activity of the nervous system. Medical acupuncture, which is sometimes referred to as dry-needling or intra-muscular stimulation (IMS), is most commonly performed by chiropractors, medical doctors, and physiotherapists, and as such, is mainly used to treat acute or chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions (i.e., pain and/or dysfunction of the joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles). In fact, acupuncture as a treatment modality for chronic pain is beginning to gain credence in the medical community because of the discovery that it can stimulate the release of opioid peptides and serotonin, and facilitate inhibition of nociceptive (pain) pathways.  Lethbridge acupuncture

What style of acupuncture is offered at Able Body?

At Able Body Health Clinic we are pleased to offer our patients both types of treatments! Dr. Reinhart (BSc, MSc, PhD, DC, RAc) is a graduate of both the Contemporary Medical Acupuncture program at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON), which focuses on the science-based application of acupuncture, as well as the TCM-based Diploma of Acupuncture program at the Calgary College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture (Calgary, AB). Treatments are always customized to the needs of each individual, with patients often receiving a unique blend of Eastern and Western-based techniques.

What happens at the first appointment?

During the initial exam, a full health history is taken; questions are asked about your current and past health, symptoms and lifestyle. If you have the results of recent blood work or imaging reports (e.g., x-ray, ultrasound, MRI), you are encouraged to bring those to your appointment. Next, an appropriate physical exam is conducted and a diagnosis, report of findings, and plan of management will be provided. If acupuncture treatment is deemed appropriate for your particular circumstance, Dr. Reinhart will select needle insertion points based on her extensive knowledge of neuromuscular anatomy and TCM theory. The needles are gently inserted and stimulated to obtain the required physiological effect, and may be local to, or segmentally linked with the presenting condition. In addition, Dr. Reinhart may include some “extra-points”, usually found in the hands and feet, that are known to have strong calming effects on the sympathetic nervous system (aka your “fight or flight” response). The first appointment usually takes about 60 minutes, with follow-up appointments lasting 30-45 minutes. Lethbridge Acupuncture

What conditions can acupuncture be used for?

Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture treatment has been very well studied in both Eastern and Western scientific literature. The scientifically proven benefits of acupuncture are diverse and include but are not limited to: relief of chronic pain (reference 1), effective treatment for headaches and neck pain (reference 2, 3, 4, 14), reduction of inflammation (reference 5, 6), improved blood flow (reference 7), reduction in stress/anxiety/depression (reference 8, 9), treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (reference 15, 16), reduction of pain during labor (reference 17), as well as improvement in sleep disturbance (reference 10, 11). Lethbridge acupuncture

Acupuncture can be effective as a solitary treatment, or as an adjunct to other therapeutic interventions. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of (reference 12):

  • Sports related injuries and other movement disorders: sprains and strains, tennis elbow, knee pain;
  • Musculoskeletal pain problems: neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, joint pain;
  • Chronic pain: headaches, sciatica, osteoarthritis, facial and jaw pain;
  • Digestive disorders: nausea, constipation;
  • Menstrual/Reproductive/Gynecological problems: dysmenorrhea, PMS, perimenopausal symptoms, infertility, induction of labour;
  • Respiratory problems: sinusitis, asthma, sore throat and recurrent respiratory tract infections;
  • Stress related problems: addictions, depression, anxiety, insomnia Lethbridge acupuncture

Does acupuncture have side effects?

Acupuncture is generally very safe. Serious side effects are rare – less than one per 10,000 treatments (reference 13). Some of the mild, but more common side effects that you should be aware of include:

  • Drowsiness occurs in a small number of patients during or after treatments. Many patients will fall asleep during treatment and in fact, patients often report improved sleep on the same night as the treatment.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness can be experienced during or following treatment, especially in new patients who are particularly nervous, or those who have skipped meals all day before coming to an appointment.
  • Similar to other manual therapies (e.g., chiropractic, massage, physiotherapy), minor soreness or bruising may occur following treatment, but this is rare.

Please book a consultation or call the clinic if you have specific questions. We are happy to answer all of your questions and help to determine if acupuncture is the right treatment option for your particular condition.

Why go to Able Body Health Clinic for Lethbridge Acupuncture?

Dr. Christine Reinhart is a well-trained, highly skilled acupuncturist who demonstrates a passion for providing her patients with effective, reliable healthcare solutions. She is able to offer a wide variety of Eastern and Western treatment techniques and will choose those that are the most efficacious for getting you to feel and function at your best, in the shortest amount of time possible. Improving your health, function and quality of life are of the utmost importance at Able Body Health Clinic.  Lethbridge Acupuncture



1) Vickers, AJ; Cronin, AM; Machino, AC; et. al. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Sep 10:1-10.

2) Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD001218.

3) Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD007587.

4) Melchart D, Linde K, Fischer P, Berman B, White A, Vickers A, Allais G. Acupuncture for idiopathic headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD001218.

5) John L. McDonald, Allan W. Cripps, Peter K. Smith, Caroline A. Smith, Charlie C. Xue, and Brenda Golianu, “The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture and Their Relevance to Allergic Rhinitis: A Narrative Review and Proposed Model,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 591796, 12 pages.

6) Zijlstra FJ, van den Berg-de Lange I, Huygen FJ, Klein J. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm. 2003 Apr;12(2):59-69.

7) Takayama  S, Watanabe M, Kusuyama H, Nagase S, Seki T, Nakazawa T, Yaegashi N. Evaluation of the Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Flow in Humans with Ultrasound Color Doppler Imaging. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 513638.

8) Wu J, Yeung AS, Schnyer R, Wang Y, Mischoulon D. Acupuncture for depression: a review of clinical applications. Can J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;57(7):397-405.

9) Lee C, Crawford C, Wallerstedt D, York A, Duncan A, Smith J, Sprengel M, Welton R, Jonas W. The effectiveness of acupuncture research across components of the trauma spectrum response (tsr): a systematic review of reviews. Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 15;1:46. doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-1-46.

10) Hachul H, Garcia TK, Maciel AL, Yagihara F, Tufik S, Bittencourt L. Acupuncture improves sleep in postmenopause in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Climacteric. 2013 Feb;16(1):36-40. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2012.698432. Epub 2012 Sep 3.

11) Cheuk DK, Yeung WF, Chung KF, Wong V. Acupuncture for insomnia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Sep 12;9:CD005472.

12) World Health Organization Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials:

13) White A. A cumulative review of the range and incidence of significant adverse events associated with acupuncture. Acupunct Med. 2004 Sep;22(3):122-33.

14) Graham N. et al. An ICON overview of physical modalities for neck pain and associated disorders. Open Orthop J. 2013 Sep 20:7:440-60.

15) Brinkhaus, B. et al. Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Feb 19;158(4):225-34.

16) Reinhold, T. et al. Cost-effectiveness for acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis: economic results of the ACUSAR trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Jul;111(1):56-63.

17) Chaillet N. et al. Nonpharmacologic approaches for pain management during labor compared with usual care: a meta-analysis. Birth. 2014 Jun;41(2):122-37.

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