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Get Drug-Free Pain Relief Using Ancient Self-Healing Dry Needling Treatment

When you’re in pain, all you want to do is feel better. The problem these days is, most of the treatment options doctors offer involve some kind of drug concoction. And as we’ve learned the hard way, some of these drugs become addictive, leading to great suffering in some cases. Acupuncture physiotherapy offers a non-drug alternative path to lasting pain relief with a proven track record. 

And because acupuncture has proven itself effective even in clinical trials, some of which we’ll discuss in a moment, it is an approved pain and healing treatment, governed by licensure regulations, and usually covered by insurance.

When combined with physiotherapy that can help heal damaged muscles, medical acupuncture offers patients a drug-free and safe alternative to healing and lasting pain relief.

Let’s take a deep dive into acupuncture physiotherapy.

The Ultimate Guide to Acupuncture

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Tell us what hurts, and we will treat your pain in the shortest time possible. Get effective treatment for your condition in less than 30 minutes so you can get back to doing what you live… pain-free.

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Get a personalized care plan so you can feel better in as few as 3 visits. We use advanced therapy techniques proven to ease pain, accelerate recovery, improve mobility and overall health. Expert Therapists

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Our award winning team of licensed physiotherapists, chiropractors, registered massage therapists are professionals and experts in human anatomy and biomechanics. You will get the perfect care plan to target the root of your pain so you can get back to doing what you love, everyday! 


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation, this session is only to find out if physiotherapy can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Why PainHero?

Improve the way your body moves so you can continue to do the things you love. PainHero is Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. Our mission is to make it easy for you to find the top clinics in your community. We handpick the top clinics using our 50 point inspection based on patient reviews, complaints, and patient outcomes. 

Whether you’re seeking pain relief or preventative care, you can expect our patient-centric approach to be new and different from any healthcare experience you’ve had before. Perhaps even life-changing.  




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The Ultimate Guide to Acupuncture

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture represents the rare example of a non-western form of medicine that has managed to gain approval and acceptance by mainstream western medical science. 

Why? Because while the underlying principles behind acupuncture have not been verified by science, its positive health effects have been. In other words – we know it works. We just don’t know exactly why. 

Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is therefore an alternative medicine approach to pain relief and self-healing that is based on a belief in a life force energy known as Qi (pronounced ‘chee’).  The belief is that this energy flows along meridian lines, and that if you place needles along these lines at specific points depending on the patient’s condition, you will stimulate the body to begin healing itself. 

The prevailing explanation for this is that the thin needles cause the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that empower your body to activate its systems and heal itself. 

Acupuncture physiotherapy is basically the same thing. It’s just acupuncture performed by someone who is also a physiotherapist. But the techniques are the same. The acupuncturist inserts sterilized dry needles which get used only once. The needles are stainless steel. This is why acupuncture is also known as dry needling physio. Dry needling is a term that describes any treatment using needles where no liquid is injected into the patient. 

Acupuncture has basically no side effects, though many patients report a relaxed feeling afterward. The needles are so thin that most people barely notice when one has been inserted. 

Acupuncture physiotherapy treats your nervous system as well as your muscles and joints to relieve pain and promote self-healing.

What Is Acupuncture Used to Treat?

Acupuncture physiotherapy can treat a great variety of conditions. Some have been studied by science more than others, which is why most medical doctors will say that acupuncture is a viable option for many forms of pain treatment. It isn’t going to hurt you, and in some cases, it will very likely help a lot, and without the use of any drugs with side effects and the risks of addiction. 

Some ailments acupuncture can treat include:

  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Weight reduction
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Pain in your neck, back, shoulder, jaw, and joints
  • Inflammation such as tendonitis and fasciitis
  • Addiction
  • Substance abuse
  • Injuries that aren’t healing well
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-surgery and post-fracture pain
  • Repetitive strain injuries including carpal tunnel
  • Osteoarthritis

That’s quite a list, and it could be longer. The underlying commonality here, if you didn’t pick up on it, is pain. That includes physical pain as well as emotional and mental pain, much of which finds its roots in physical aspects of the body. 


Find out whether physiotherapy can help you get back to doing the things you love in life. 

Common Problems Successfully Treated with Acupuncture

When feeling unwell, most people don’t always know the specific condition that is ailing them. They just know they don’t feel right. Take a look at the list below and ask yourself if any of these problems describe you. If so, acupuncture might be the solution you’ve been longing for.

Social Withdrawal

If you’ve been withdrawing from social activities because of anxiety, depression, or low energy, there could be many causes behind this. But letting yourself stay tired, listless, and apathetic will be very destructive to your long term health and well-being. You need to get out of the hole!

But that’s easy to say. Just telling you to ‘cheer up’ isn’t likely to make you very happy. You know you need help, but you aren’t sure where to turn.

Acupuncture may offer a path toward feeling better that you haven’t considered before. It’s certainly a better bet than yet another anti-depressant.

Persistent Inflammation

Inflammation can occur in all sorts of places, and it can spread throughout your body depending on the causes. You can have joint inflammation, muscular inflammation, tendon inflammation, on and on. Official names for some of these conditions include osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, and fasciitis.

But the point is, you are experiencing persistent pain in some part of your body, and nothing you have tried is working. That’s because there is a root cause of your inflammation. And pills mostly just mask that pain. But they don’t heal it.

With acupuncture physiotherapy, you will be activating your endocrine system and other body systems to promote self-healing.

Halted Progress

Maybe you had a surgery or a broken bone, and you were healing fine. But then your progress seemed to hit a plateau, and ever since then you’ve felt a persistent and nagging feeling that something didn’t quite heal all the way.

Medical acupuncture could offer a path toward complete healing. It could help you finish the job.

Stretched Too Thin and Stressed Out

Stress isn’t just a feeling. It produces real physical effects on your body, and they aren’t good if the stress stays around for too long. And, it wears you out and leaves you sapped for energy.

Acupuncture can help relieve stress, rejuvenate your energy, and help you start living your life to the fullest again.

Here’s also a type of acupuncture that could slow the signs of aging, courtesy of Natural Choice Medical Clinic

Unrelenting Migraines and Headaches

Migraines have been studied with regard to acupuncture possibly more than any other ailment. We’ll share some of that research in a bit. But here’s the simple truth: If you’ve been suffering from migraines or persistent headaches and haven’t found a solution, acupuncture should be the first item on your list for what to try next.

The positive effects of medical acupuncture on migraines are well-documented.

Does Acupuncture Really Work?

Many studies have been conducted to determine if acupuncture physiotherapy works, and if so, how well. As mentioned at the start of this article, the conclusion at this point can be summed up quite simply: Yes, acupuncture works, but we’re not totally sure about why.

Acupuncture and Migraines

Quite a few studies have sought to determine if acupuncture has a measureable effect on migraines. One such study treated 500 adults. Some received medical acupuncture, and others received a ‘sham’ treatment that still used dry needling, but the technique used had no basis in anything. You can learn about it here.

Interestingly both groups reported improvements with their migraines – at first. The patients who received professional acupuncture experienced lasting freedom from their migraine headaches, whereas the other group saw their relief last for a much shorter time.

Acupuncture and Back Pain

Another study found similar results for patients experiencing back pain. Both groups reported some benefits, but the effects on patients who received acupuncture saw much longer lasting results.

Acupuncture and Other Conditions 

Another study looked at several conditions, including back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, chronic headaches, and shoulder pain.

All the studies found that using acupuncture on all these conditions produced better results than doing nothing.

What you want to notice here is, for a great variety of conditions, acupuncture seems to have a positive effect on the healing and restoration of your body. No study found no effect. And no study found negative effects.

Here’s a great post about Acupuncture and its benefits, courtesy of Affinity Family Wellness

Why Does Acupuncture Work?

Medical scientists differ on why they believe acupuncture benefits people so well, but here are a few of the most accepted ideas.

Dry needling probably accelerates the transmission of electromagnetic signals. In other words, your body systems speed up their natural healing processes. This acceleration may speed up the flow of pain killing endorphins, or possibly release more immune system cells.

It’s also possible that acupuncture releases natural pain killers in the brain so they can tell the nervous system to reduce pain and encourage healthy sleep.

Another idea is that the brain chemistry itself gets altered so that it releases more neurotransmitters, which have influence over nerve impulses. And neurohormones can affect organ functionality.

Again, these are all just theories about why acupuncture works. They attempt to explain the scientific basis for the Traditional Chinese Medicine that seems to work well at relieving pain and promoting self-healing for a great variety of conditions and ailments, as you have seen.

5 Acupuncture Benefits

What can you expect to feel after undergoing an acupuncture treatment or two? Here are five of the most commonly experienced effects that lead millions of people across the world to seek acupuncture therapy every year.

Acupuncture physiotherapy has been shown to reduce the hormones that cause stress and related mood disorders. Put simply, acupuncture makes people happier and improves their mood.

Because acupuncture speeds up circulation and neurotransmission, it accelerates the removal of toxins that your body is attempting to expunge and leads to faster healing.

Whether you’re feeling pain in your neck, back, shoulder, jaw, or other joints or muscles throughout your body, acupuncture physiotherapy will likely lead to lasting pain relief and reduced tension. You’ll also increase your ability to move freely, as your muscular health improves.


Again, with increased circulation and the other body processes stimulated by acupuncture, you will awaken your immune and endocrine systems and probably speed up your body’s ability to fight off and overcome diseases and disorders.

You don’t have to keep feeling tired, listless, and drained. While there can be many causes of these feelings, acupuncture can produce a dramatic improvement in your life by producing lasting changes in your energy levels. And by making your body systems work better, you will fight off disease more efficiently and heal faster.

In addition to all these benefits, you will avoid the need for various painkilling drugs and opioids. Empowering your body to heal itself is just about always better than using these unnatural methods if you can find something that works.

What to Expect from an Acupuncture Treatment

When you arrive for your acupuncture physiotherapy treatment, you’ll work with someone called an acupuncturist. Once they have mapped out all the locations where they will insert the dry needles, they will swab each area with alcohol and insert one needle at a time.

For each, they will gently tap it in. It won’t go very far into your skin, and you will barely feel it. How many needles are used, and where they are placed, depends on the condition the acupuncturist is attempting to treat.

Remember that, unlike intramuscular stimulation (IMS) treatment, which we’ll talk about in a bit, acupuncture is based on ancient theories and beliefs. So the acupuncturist will implement a pre-determined strategy for needle placement and depth.

The needles will stay in for several minutes. Most treatments last somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes, but can go as long as an hour. In some cases, the acupuncturist may use electricity to increase

the effect of the treatment.

The whole experience is mild and you will likely feel little to nothing. For some conditions, you will want to attend multiple sessions to experience the fullest level of healing and recovery.

7 Differences Between Acupuncture and IMS Therapy

It’s fairly easy to confuse acupuncture physiotherapy with intramuscular stimulation because both use dry needling. But there are actually more differences than similarities. IMS needling serves a different purpose than acupuncture, uses different methods, and results in different side effects.

Both can be used in conjunction with physiotherapy, and in truth most IMS physiotherapy practitioners use IMS needling as just one of the many treatments available to them depending on the needs of the patient.

Here are 9 conditions treatable with IMS needling physiotherapy.

Let’s take a look at seven major differences between acupuncture and IMS therapy.

1. Dry Needling Manipulation

In acupuncture physiotherapy, once the needles are inserted into the body, they remain undisturbed for the duration of the treatment. They just sit there. But in IMS physiotherapy, the needles are manipulated by the physio.

The reason for this is because in IMS therapy, you are attempting to get a reaction from the muscle, which is usually banded up tightly, causing pain and limiting range of motion. The manipulation causes nerves to activate, the muscle to kind of ‘reset,’ and then to relax.

Learn the difference between dry needling, IMS and acupuncture, courtesy of Lime Health and Wellness 

2. Different Diagnosis Methods

Acupuncture is based on ancient theories about meridians, and this determines needle placement, length and number of treatments, and other factors depending on your condition. IMS needling attempts to locate specific nerves and muscles being impaired within your body.

3. Targeted vs General

As the last point suggests, an IMS physio will attempt to target specific muscles, all depending on your condition. For example, if you have shoulder pain, the IMS physiotherapist will insert the needle into your shoulder muscles, because that is the area being treated. Here’s how IMS therapy can fix shoulder pain in 30 days or less.

Acupuncture physiotherapy, on the other hand, may not target the shoulder muscle or any other particular muscle, because the needle placement is pursuing a different goal. By activating your body systems and stimulating increased circulation, it is helping your body to heal itself in whatever ways are needed.

Take the migraine example again. You don’t insert needles into your head! But acupuncture still results in lasting relief for migraines, as the studies mentioned earlier have proven, because it is activating the healing processes within your body.

4. Needle Depth

In general, acupuncture needles will not be inserted as far as the needles in IMS therapy. The reason again has to do with the purpose. With IMS needling, you want to stimulate the muscles and nerves. To do that, you have to go deep enough to get a reaction from the muscle. With acupuncture, the depths are pre-determined, and do not need to be as deep to accomplish the goal.

5. Duration of Treatment

Acupuncture generally lasts quite a bit longer than IMS physiotherapy. Most IMS needling sessions go just a few minutes, because once the muscles and nerves have been properly stimulated and reset, the treatment is done.

Acupuncture will typically last 15-30 minutes, but can go as long as an hour in some cases.

6. Level of Soreness

Dry needling IMS is a more ‘invasive’ procedure for the reasons you’ve already seen, and it does produce some soreness that can last a day or two. You will feel it. Acupuncture tends to produce little to no soreness. Most patients report none at all.

7. Different Foundations

As mentioned earlier, acupuncture is not based on science. While science has demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture physiotherapy to treat multiple conditions like those you saw in the referenced studies, the technique itself was not developed by science. It’s been around for thousands of years, before science as we practice it today even existed.

IMS physiotherapy was developed in the 1970s, and is based on scientific understandings of biology, muscle health, the nervous system, and other elements of human physiology.

Here’s more about the differences between IMS therapy and acupuncture.

For an in-depth exploration of IMS physiotherapy as a form of dry needling physio, read the ultimate guide to IMS treatment.

Common Injuries Successfully Treated with Acupuncture Physiotherapy

Frequently Asked Questions

You’ll begin by talking about your health history. Next, the acupuncturist will examine your body and perform some additional tests so they can determine the proper treatment plan for your condition.  

For the treatment, you will lay on a comfortable table while the therapist targets specific points on your body, based on your assessment. The fine dry needles are inserted at these targeted points, and most people barely perceive them. They stay in your body between five and 30 minutes. The needles are sterile, used only once, and made of stainless steel.

The frequency and number of treatments depends on each person’s condition and the complexity of their injury. Many people report dramatic relief after just one treatment. For complex or long-standing chronic conditions, it often takes one or two treatments per week for several weeks, and sometimes months. Usually, acute problems require fewer visits.

Your licensed physiotherapist will develop an individual treatment plan that includes the expected number of treatments, which will be discussed in your initial visit.

During and after treatments, most people report a feeling of relaxation. Some feel very tired, because the body has undergone some significant changes and needs to rest. 

Because the goal is to regain balance in the body systems, your physiotherapist may use additional tools and approaches, such as:

  • Hands on manual therapy
  • Exercise to strengthen or release muscles
  • Education
  • Specific movement retraining
  • Posture retraining
  • Coaching for return to exercise
  • Strategies for pain or symptom management 


IMS treatment is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.