The needling game – let’s get to the point

By Dr. Ross Ralph

Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?” When it comes to acupuncture, a needle – like a rose – by any other name would be just as sweet.

In needling, the name game is truly at play – think dry needling, trigger-point needling, biomedical acupuncture, intramuscular stimulation (IMS) and more. Call it what you will, however, if an acupuncture needle is being inserted into the skin, it is some form of acupuncture.

While Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have advocated the benefits of needling for more than 3,000 years, Western health practitioners are relatively recent converts.

As they come to recognize its worth, though, they’re adopting and adapting acupuncture to suit their practices, often renaming it in the process to sound more “medical” or “scientific.” What a physiotherapist might refer to as a trigger point, for example, an acupuncturist might call an ashi point. But make no mistake; it’s all acupuncture.

To the layperson, it can all be quite confusing. Some people believe that medical professionals needle deeper than acupuncturists.

This is a myth. (Treatment actually depends on the practitioner, the condition being treated and the placement of the needles.)

Some therapies, such as IMS, claim to be based on neuroanatomy and modern science.

In fact, acupuncturists commonly use a neuroanatomical approach in conjunction with Traditional Chinese Medical point function, giving them a greater clinical advantage.

Unlike other medical practitioners, acupuncturists and doctors of Chinese Medicine have undertaken years of acupuncture instruction and can offer numerous needling therapies, including neurofunctional acupuncture, acupoint injection therapy and moxibustion.

And because they’re regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC, they can assure their patients of both comprehensive medical expertise and thousands of hours of clinical training.

It’s time for Western medical practitioners to start calling a spade a spade, and a needle a needle.

Dr. Ross Ralph, Dr. TCM, R.Ac., is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncturist at Courtenay Healing Centre. He can be reached at 250-338-2866 or info@courtenay

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