Acupuncture can be used to treat musculoskeletal (MSK)-related pain—an area where your chiropractor is an expert. Doctors of chiropractic assess conditions related to the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems, and they are qualified to diagnose, treat, and prevent disorders and dysfunctions related to the musculoskeletal system. Acupuncture is just one of the modalities that your chiropractor may use to treat your MSK-related pain.* It is part of the scope of practice in most provincial jurisdictions.†,1
The practice of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin at particular pressure points in order to produce an analgesic—or painkilling—effect2 (among other observed benefits3). For those chiropractors who perform acupuncture therapy, they have completed additional training from a recognized educational institution. A chiropractor qualified to practice acupuncture must have completed a minimum of 200 hours of formal training in accordance with the requirements set out by their province.1
While acupuncture in the field of chiropractic can be beneficial for a variety of conditions, there are three areas that tend to receive the most attention from chiropractors—neck pain, headaches, and low back pain.
Recent evidence supports the use of acupuncture for reducing neck pain, particularly if it is chronic.4 Patients with neck pain who received manual therapy in combination with other modalities—including acupuncture—have been reported to have moderately better pain reduction, greater patient satisfaction, and improved function, range of motion and strength.4
Acupuncture has been found effective in treating the headaches you might get once in a while, or chronic tension-type headaches that someone might suffer from all the time.2 For migraines, adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment can reduce how often you might get them.5
Low Back Pain
In a Cochrane Review,6 it was found that for chronic low back pain, acupuncture is more effective for pain relief and functional improvement than no treatment or short-term “sham” treatment in the placebo group. Studies suggest that acupuncture would also be a useful addition to other therapies for chronic low back pain. In other words, when it’s added to other conventional therapies, it can relieve pain and improve function better than conventional therapies alone.6
Consider the Experts
Ultimately, your chiropractor is going to work with you to come up with a treatment plan that will best suits your needs, address your ailments, and provide the best outcome for your overall health. That includes a thorough history, a comprehensive exam, and a diagnosis that will inform how the issues are managed. You’ll work with the chiropractor to determine the best course of treatment to meet your unique goals.
If acupuncture is something you’re considering, talk to a chiropractor to see if it is the right treatment for you. To find a chiropractor near you, visit Find A Chiro.
* Acupuncture treatment can be used by chiropractors who have received additional training for acupuncture therapy.
† Excludes British Columbia and Quebec.
- Ontario Chiropractic Association. Acupuncture Insurance Best Practices Guide [Internet]. 2nd ed. 2014. Accessed August 224, 2016]. https://www.chiropractic.on.ca/acupuncture#.V72561UrKUk.
- Linde K, Allais G, Fei Y, Mehring M, Shin B, Vickers A et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016.
- Cabýohlu MT, Ergene N, Tan U. The mechanism of acupuncture and clinical applications. Intern J Neuroscience. 2006; 116: 115-25. doi: 1080/00207450500341472.
- Carlesso L, MacDermid J, Gross A, Walton D, Santaguida P. Treatment preferences amongst physical therapists and chiropractors for the management of neck pain: results of an international survey. Chiropr Man Ther. 2014; 22(1): 11.
- Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database for Systematic Reviews. 2016.
- Furlan A, van Tulder M, Cherkin D, et al. Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain: an updated systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane collaboration. Spine. 2005; 30(8): 944-63.