So, my Physiotherapist asked if I would like to try acupuncture…

You’ve seen your physiotherapist for an assessment and they’ve told you that they think acupuncture will help your condition.  Immediately a series of questions run through your mind.  What is acupuncture?  Most of all, how is it going to help my condition?

What is Acupuncture?

There are several different styles of acupuncture.  At Vancouver Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic, we practice anatomical acupuncture.  This involves inserting a very thin, solid needle into specific points.  The points are chosen based on the anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology of your condition. 

How does Acupuncture work?

Let’s look at a specific condition as an example:  Tennis Elbow (or Lateral Epicondylopathy) can occur as an acute or chronic injury.  It generally presents as pain at the elbow with, or without inflammation. Acupuncture works to help this condition in 4 ways:


  1. Reduce pain: acupuncture stimulates the release of natural chemicals in the body called endorphins.  Endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals that inhibit pain signals along the spinal cord


  1. Reduce inflammation: acupuncture increases a substance called adenosine, which acts to decrease inflammation.


  1. Stimulation of hormone balancing mechanisms: acupuncture stimulates the release of regulatory hormones.  These have been shown to help increase muscular strength and power.


  1. Emotional balancing: pain and depression share some of the same brain pathways.  Changes in pathways can cause pain signals to potentially alter one’s emotional state.  Acupuncture stimulates pain pathways, and with pain relief, helps reduce the pain-depression loop.


So what does all this mean?  If we look back at our example of tennis elbow, acupuncture may help to: reduce the pain at the elbow, settle inflammation if present, help with the integrity of the muscle, and help prevent the condition from becoming chronic with emotional implications. 

At Vancouver Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic, we use acupuncture in conjunction with other treatment methods to not only treat the symptoms of your condition, but also remediate the cause.  Treatment methods may include manual therapy, specific exercise prescription, and modalities. 

Should you have any specific questions about acupuncture or physiotherapy in general feel free to call the clinic and ask to speak with Katie Wnuk, one of our university trained physiotherapists.