Our Top 3 FAQs!

Hello Everyone!  Spring has sprung in Edmonton and we hope you have been able to enjoy the warmer weather, our longer days and marvel at the many blossoms around Edmonton. June is here and it’s blog time!  
For this month’s blog, it’s your turn to inform our content!  I would like to answer our top 3 most frequently asked questions. They are excellent questions and they are asked of us every single day. In no order of importance or frequency, here they are: 

  1. What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling/IMS?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has its roots in China and has been used to address the health and wellness of people for thousands of years. TCM does not follow western scientific principles. It envisions the human body as having an energy system called Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) and its emphasis is on restoring and maintaining balance and harmony to treat and prevent disease. Qi is constantly moving throughout the many meridians or channels in the body. Acupuncture is but one of several modalities that is used to manipulate the flow of Qi (other modalities include cupping, moxibustion, meditation, nutrition and tai-chi.)

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is the same as dry needling.  It has also been called myofascial dry needling or trigger point dry needling. It’s “dry” because it does not involve the administration of any medications. Unlike acupuncture, it follows western scientific principles. The only similarities between dry needling and acupuncture is that they use the same needles. The needles used are extremely fine and they are inserted into tight muscles to reduce pain and tightness. Acupuncture treatments tend to insert many needles and are left inserted for upwards of 30 minutes. Dry needling, however, uses only one needle. When a tight muscle senses the presence of the needle, it contracts to produce a “twitch response” or muscle contraction. This contraction produces a reflex relaxation of the muscle and thus reducing a muscle’s tightness. Several muscles can be treated with the same needle, none of which requires them to be left in. If a muscle is really tight, it can remain contracted for seconds or minutes. Once it relaxes, the needle is removed. 

Therefore, the philosophies and beliefs between acupuncture and dry needling are completely different. The former is based on ancient Chinese beliefs. The latter is based on western scientific principles. 

  1. I have low back pain/ knee pain/ neck pain/ osteoarthritis/ concussion/ dizziness etc… what is the best exercise for my condition?

We have addressed this in a previous blog here What Exercise is Good for but it is a question we still receive on a daily basis.

One of the key principles of exercise is specificity. It needs to be specific to the individual and the timing and nature of the condition and injury. No two individuals will present the same way despite having the same diagnosis. A cookie cutter approach to treatment is not helpful and can even be hurtful or harmful. Before any treatment can commence or be suggested, an individualized assessment needs to be done first. There is no such thing as the “best exercise” for back pain or knee pain. Effective treatments need to not only address symptoms but the cause or contributing factors for the symptoms. And these can vary greatly between individuals.

  1. How long will my condition take to resolve?

How long a condition or injury will take to resolve and when a person can return to a particular activity or sport is a question of prognosis. Again, because no 2 individuals are the same, this question is one of the most difficult to answer. There can be countless factors that can influence a person’s recovery. For example, recovery from an ankle sprain will differ between someone whose goal is only to walk their dog versus a competitive soccer player. The demands on the ankle between the 2 activities are completely different. Different people have different activity/exercise backgrounds and histories. They may have different pre-existing and co-existing medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes or osteoarthritis. And one of the most important factors that influences physical recovery is someone’s mental health and recovery. This is one of the most influential and most under-appreciated aspects of rehabilitation medicine. Included in this is the varied expectations each person has of their recovery and rehab that is heavily influenced by their sport, employment, background, personality and culture. The variables are endless.

We understand that when people are in pain and are injured, they want quick and simple answers. But just because human beings are complex, does not mean that your rehab will be complicated. We will help you tackle each problem one step at a time and build a plan with you to help you accomplish your goals. Empowering you to succeed will always be our goal.

Submitted by Albert Chan

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