How does acupuncture work?

When acupuncture needles are inserted, various physiological effects are stimulated, depending upon which acupuncture points are selected. Changes in hormones, brainwaves, muscle strength and range of motion have been measured. Functional MRI has even shown changes in active areas of the brain. Acupuncture can release tight muscles and trigger points, activate muscles that are weak or inhibited, increase blood circulation, decrease inflammation, and stimulate healing. Acupuncture needling stimulates the release of endorphins, which are often called “feel good” hormones because they create a sense of euphoria, but also because they act as natural pain killers.

Besides needling, what will my treatments consist of? We value your time, money, and individual needs. As such, we endeavor to make every
treatment as comprehensive and individually tailored to you as possible. In addition to needling, Gua Sha, Cupping or electro-acupuncture can be incorporated into your treatment. 

What can acupuncture treat?

According to the World Health Organization, controlled trials have shown that acupuncture can effectively treat the following:

Low back pain
Neck pain
Tennis elbow
Knee pain
Peri-arthritis of the shoulder
Facial pain
Dental pain
Acute and chronic gastritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Induction of labor
Breech birth presentation
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Postoperative pain
Essential hypertension
Primary hypotension
Renal colic
Radiation/chemo reactions
Allergic rhinitis,
Hay fever
Biliary colic
Acute bacillary dysentery
Primary dysmenorrhea
Acute epigastralgia
Peptic ulcer

Meet Our Acupuncturist

Chris MIddleton Bio
Christopher Middleton, Doctor of Acupuncture

Hello! My name is Chris, and (surprise!) I’m an acupuncturist. I love cats, dogs, food, sports, the mountains, and helping people feel better and live well. I’ve volunteered for various local animal rescues and over the years my wife Rebecca and I have served as fosters for both cats and dogs. Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare.

MY STORY: I initially discovered  acupuncture several years ago after I was in a car accident and sustained whiplash. A year after the accident I was still suffering headaches and neck pain. It was then that my wife asked, “why don’t you try acupuncture?” I distinctly recall responding “because I hate needles!” Needless to say, she convinced me to try it anyway. And it worked! The headaches stopped. I also discovered that acupuncture needles are tiny and, unlike the needles I’d previously experienced, you barely feel them. I initially studied at NAIT to become an MRI Technologist, but after my car accident and subsequent experience with acupuncture, I ended up enrolling in the acupuncture program at MacEwan University and I’ve been a practicing acupuncturist ever since.

MY FOCUS: My initial focus and passion in acupuncture was for sports medicine and orthopedic acupuncture, treating injuries and pain of all sorts. However, because my wife and I have struggled with fertility issues, my passion for treating men’s and women’s health issues, specifically infertility, has grown over the years. But I love to help people no matter what reason they have decided to seek out acupuncture.

MY APPROACH: I blend classical techniques that have stood the test of time with modern cutting-edge techniques and technologies scientifically shown to enhance healing. This means I may combine TCM Acupuncture or Meridian-based acupuncture with modern motor point and trigger point needling. I utilize a wide array of modalities including electro-acupuncture, laser acupuncture (coming soon!), cupping, Gua Sha, and herbs. Because everyone is different, our goal is to find the right combination of techniques for each unique patient so as to provide the quickest recovery in the fewest treatments possible.

Acupuncture FAQ's

How long does it take for acupuncture to work?
Acupuncture is medicine not magic! It is only in very rare cases that 1 or 2 treatments will fix your problem. Often it isn’t until about treatment 3 or 4 that we start to see sustained progress. I’ve learned that this is the most important factor in determining whether acupuncture will work for you! In other words, the deciding factor isn’t merely the prescription of acupuncture points used but delivering the right dose of treatment sessions. This is much the same as how medications work. Your doctor can prescribe you the right medication, for instance an antibiotic, but if you only take 1 or 2 doses, even if you’ve started to feel better, odds are that as soon as you stop, you’ll go right back to feeling unwell again. When acupuncture treatments are delivered close together, they will build off each other. For this reason, you should plan for 2 treatments per week for the first few weeks. Depending on how quickly things progress, we will then start to gradually space each subsequent treatment further apart. We can break a complete and effective course of treatments down into 3 stages: Stage 1: Relief care, Stage 2: Corrective Care, Stage 3: Maintenance Care. For a full break down of what to expect at each one of these stages, read about it in our blog post below!

Is acupuncture safe?
When administered by a trained professional, acupuncture is an extremely safe treatment. Unlike most drugs, there are generally no side effects, and adverse reactions are extremely uncommon. Registered Acupuncturists, like Chris Middleton – R.Ac., receive years of hands-
on training and must pass a series intensive board exams in order to become licensed to practice in Alberta. The primary objective of this rigorous training and testing is to ensure public safety.

Does acupuncture have any side effects?
Acupuncture has no serious side effects. At worst you may get the occasional bruise or feel slightly woozy after treatment. This is temporary and should pass within a few minutes.

Is acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture utilizes small, hair-thin needles and generally very shallow insertion. This is why, unlike other forms of needling, it is quite painless. Often the patient won’t even realize the needle has entered the skin. After needling, typical sensations range from a dull ache to tingling, heaviness, or mild radiating sensations above or below the needle. Sharp pains are very uncommon, and your acupuncturist will adjust or remove the needle on the rare
occasion that they occur. Obviously, some point locations are more sensitive than others and some patients are more needle-sensitive than others, but for the vast majority of patients, it is very relaxing and many people even fall asleep during the treatment.

Does Western Medicine approve of acupuncture?
Yes! In fact, the World Health Organization has long list of conditions it recognizes acupuncture as a proven treatment for multiple conditions. While there are certainly some skeptics out there in the medical community, the support for acupuncture is rapidly growing. Doctors are increasingly recognizing the vital role it can play in naturally maintaining health and wellness. In part due to the opioid crisis, more and more patients are being referred for acupuncture treatments as an alternative to drugs, not only because of its proven effectiveness, but also because it carries no risks of addiction or unwanted side effects. In most cases, unlike with painkillers, acupuncture can treat the underlying cause of disease rather than simply acting as a Band-Aid solution.

Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
Absolutely! When performed by a trained acupuncturist, treatment is not only completely safe but can be very beneficial to the pregnancy. It can be used to support the pregnancy and the mother, and treat things such as morning sickness, lower back pain, breach babies, and, when the timing is right, can even help to naturally induce labour. It is this last function that highlights why it is so important to seek out a fully licensed acupuncturist. Certain acupuncture points are contraindicated in pregnancy unless you are trying to induce labour. Practitioners who are only trained in IMS or dry needling via a weekend course or workshop may be unaware of these points and may unintentionally use them potentially leading to serious consequences.


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