HealthHow do you know if acupuncture is working?

How do you know if acupuncture is working?

Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body, most often through very thin needles. This ancient Chinese medicine practice is used to treat various types of pain and health conditions. 

However, because it is based on influencing energy flow throughout the body, you may wonder how to tell if your acupuncture treatments from Orleans Physiotherapy Clinic are truly working.

Knowing what signs to look for can confirm you are seeing real results from the skilled acupuncturists for Physiotherapy Orleans Ontario at Orleans Physiotherapy.

How Acupuncture Is Thought to Work 

Acupuncture Orleans is based on traditional Chinese medicine principles of vital energy (Qi) flowing through the body along meridians or channels. Illness and pain are believed to arise from blockages or imbalances in this flow. 

Inserting hair-thin disposable needles into targeted acupoints on the skin aims to remove these blockages, modulate pain signals, and restore normal energy circulation through the body to regain health.

While some skeptics view acupuncture as pseudoscience without evidence, research does show it boosts natural painkilling endorphins, regulates hormones, reduces inflammation, and alters blood flow and brain activity, which can provide real symptom relief. The exact mechanisms are still being investigated.

What to Expect During Acupuncture Treatments

If you are new to acupuncture, knowing what to expect can ease any anxiety about the process:

  • The initial appointment involves reviewing your medical history, pain locations, prior treatments tried, and treatment goals. Your pulse and tongue may be assessed.
  • Very thin sterile disposable needles ranging from .12mm to .35mm in width are quickly and gently placed below the skin surface at precise acupoints. You may briefly feel a pinching sensation. 
  • Between 5 and 20 needles are typically used, with the number depending on your condition.
  • You relax comfortably on a treatment table, recliner, or chair for 20-60 minutes as the needles do their work. Many patients fall asleep.
  • Most patients feel little to no pain with the needles. Let your acupuncturist know if anything causes discomfort.
  • Additional modalities like massage, cupping, heat, or electrical stimulation may supplement needling.
  • The needles are removed and disposed of after treatment. You can resume normal activities immediately.  
  • Treatments are often scheduled 1-2 times per week for several weeks, depending on your response.

While new patients may feel apprehensive about needles, skilled acupuncturists make the process nearly painless to optimize relaxation.

Signs Acupuncture Is Working for Pain Relief

Since acupuncture seeks to restore balance and flow of vital energy to improve health, outward signs of progress are often subtle. However, some indications your acupuncture treatments are providing pain relief include:

Immediate Lightheadedness 

Feeling lightheaded or deeply relaxed during or just after acupuncture is common as circulation and oxygenation increase. This demonstrates a positive response.

Improved Range of Motion

If your pain or stiffness decreases following treatment, allowing easier neck rotation or bending, this shows tissues are relaxing.

Reduced Pain Elsewhere  

Even when needled at distal sites, many patients notice pain relief in body parts far from the needles. This whole-body benefit reflects improved energy flow.

Fewer Pain Medications Needed

If your need for over-the-counter or prescription pain pills consistently lessens following acupuncture, this indicates it is producing tangible effects.

Better Sleep

Sounder sleep and waking feeling more rested after treatment can reflect acupuncture relaxing the body and reducing pain interference with sleep.

Muscle Knots Release

Changes in tissue texture with tighter knots softening or dissolving over the course of acupuncture reflect a positive structural response.

Improved Function  

Increased ability to lift overhead, stand longer, or bend with less restriction demonstrates objective gains in mobility and pain reduction from acupuncture.

Paying attention to subtle but meaningful improvements throughout the body allows you to recognize the holistic pain relief effects that quality acupuncture provides.

Key Signs Acupuncture Is Working for Specific Conditions

In addition to pain relief, acupuncture targets other common health complaints. Noticeable signs it is working for certain conditions include:

  • Allergies – Reduced runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and need for allergy medication after treatments.
  • Headaches – Decrease in headache frequency, intensity, and duration.
  • Insomnia– Falling asleep and staying asleep more easily with fewer night awakenings.
  • Anxiety/Depression – Improved mood, less rumination, and darker thoughts.
  • Fatigue– Having more energy, stamina, and mental clarity immediately and over time.
  • Digestive Problems – Reduced bloating, cramping, heartburn, and improved regularity.
  • Women’s Health Issues – Better regulation of menstrual cycles, reduction in PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, improved flow, and less painful periods.
  • Smoking Cessation– Reduced nicotine cravings and withdrawal agitation.

Staying attuned to small positive shifts in your target symptoms and overall well-being provides reassurance that acupuncture is promoting healing balance.


At Orleans Physiotherapy Clinic, our comprehensive practice provides acupuncture as part of integrative care plans aimed at reducing pain and restoring well-being. Our licensed physiotherapists and massage therapists have advanced training in safe, effective acupuncture techniques that complement hands-on therapy, exercise-based rehabilitation, and patient education. 

Based in Orleans, Ontario, we offer customized acupuncture programs designed around your unique health goals. Contact us today to see how we can help you optimize wellness through integrated acupuncture care.

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