What type of provider does acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is often used to treat stiffness and pain. It involves the use of very thin needles to puncture the skin. The needles are placed at specific points around the body depending on the condition that is being treated. The placement of acupuncture needles may vary slightly depending on the healthcare provider that is performing the treatment.

In Ontario, acupuncture is not a regulated profession. This means no standards exist on who can perform it. It also means there are no public protection mechanisms in place regarding qualifications, complaints and discipline, and professional standards. That being said, regulated professionals performing acupuncture must adhere to the guidelines set out by their own regulatory body.

For example, physiotherapy is a regulated profession within Ontario that is governed by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario. Physiotherapists may perform acupuncture if they have completed the appropriate education and training. Only physiotherapists who are rostered to perform acupuncture with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario will be able to use it with their clients. In order to roster, physiotherapists must demonstrate to the college that they have the appropriate training and skills to safely perform acupuncture. Choosing an acupuncture provider that works within a regulated profession will help ensure that you’re receiving care from someone who has the appropriate training and qualifications.

Some other providers that may offer acupuncture include: registered acupuncturists, chiropodists, chiropractors, dentists, medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, occupational therapists, nurses, registered massage therapists, and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners.


Which is better: chiropractor or acupuncture?

According to the College of Chiropractors of Ontario, the scope of practice for chiropractic is as follows:


“The practice of chiropractic is the assessment of conditions related to the spine, nervous system and joints and the diagnosis, prevention and treatment, primarily by adjustment of:


  • dysfunctions or disorders arising from the structures or functions of the spine and the effects of those dysfunctions or disorders on the nervous system; and


  • dysfunctions or disorders arising from the structures or functions of the joints.”


In short, chiropractic care involves the assessment, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of spine and joint conditions. On the other hand, acupuncture is a treatment that can be performed by many different healthcare practitioners, including some chiropractors. Acupuncture is typically provided within 2 main contexts: the traditional Chinese medicine context and the western context.

Healthcare practitioners who are qualified to perform acupuncture will do so within one of these 2 contexts depending on their scope of practice. This is important to consider, as acupuncture provided within the western context will mainly be used with the intended purpose of treating a musculoskeletal condition.

On the other hand, acupuncture within the traditional Chinese medicine context may be done with the intended purpose of treating both musculoskeletal or non musculoskeletal conditions. Both acupuncture and chiropractic care have been shown to be helpful for pain and stiffness experienced as a result of many different musculoskeletal conditions.

That being said, it’s important to consider what you’re looking for when choosing to see a chiropractor or someone else who can provide acupuncture. If you’re looking for the appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of your condition, you’ll want to make sure you’re seeing a healthcare provider whose scope of practice includes this.


What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

A variety of conditions can be treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture can be helpful in the management of pain and stiffness resulting from many different musculoskeletal conditions. Some examples of conditions acupuncture can help include: low back pain, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff related pain, elbow pain, and patellofemoral pain.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience the same effects from acupuncture. Some individuals will experience strong effects, while others will not experience any effects. If you’re interested in acupuncture, it’s worthwhile to undergo multiple sessions in order to determine whether or not you’re experiencing a benefit. As always, be sure to discuss acupuncture with your healthcare provider to see if it can be helpful for your specific situation.


Still not sure what to expect with acupuncture? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury. 



Liam Newlands

Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance

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