As a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) and Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) which is a health practitioner that practices Traditional Acupuncture, I am often asked what the difference is between Traditional Acupuncture and Acupuncture offered by Physiotherapists. This a very good question, because there is a difference however most people are unaware of it.
The Four Key Differences Between Traditional Acupuncture and Physiotherapy Acupuncture:
The naming of Acupuncture
Acupuncture performed by Physiotherapists is referred to as Anatomical Acupuncture, Dry needling, Medical Acupuncture and in some cases I.M.S.
Acupuncture performed by a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) or Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) is known as Acupuncture, Traditional Acupuncture, or Chinese Medicine Acupuncture.
Level of Acupuncture Training
A Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) must complete a minimum of 3 years Acupuncture training, a Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) a minimum of 4 years Acupuncture training and a Doctor of Chinese Medicine (Dr.TCM) a minimum of 5 years Acupuncture training. This is followed by a Provincial board exam to practice Acupuncture as a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), two Provincial board exams to practice Acupuncture as Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP), and three Provincial board exams to practice Acupuncture as Doctor of Chinese Medicine (Dr.TCM). Physiotherapists do complete a high level of academic studies outside of Acupuncture training, and have an excellent understanding of functional anatomy and physiology, which is essential for the safe practice of Acupuncture. However, their overall required training in Acupuncture theory, diagnosis, treatment assessment, clean needling technique and needling technique is a minimum of 100 hours with 70 of the 100 hours performed online. The completion of this course offered by The Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute (AFCI) is followed by a written examination.
Scope of Practice with Acupuncture
Physiotherapists or any other health practitioners that practice Anatomical Acupuncture, Dry needling, Medical Acupuncture or IMS are limited to treating pain and neuropathy only. While Registered Acupuncturists (R.Ac) and Chinese Medicine Practitioners (R.TCMP) who practice Traditional Acupuncture have a much wider scope of practice. Conditions that can be successfully treated with Traditional Acupuncture include: Internal medical conditions – digestive complaints, respiratory problems, hormone imbalances, sleep disturbance, psycho-emotional problems, gynecology, influenza, and more. External medical conditions include – skin disorders, sports injuries, acute and chronic pain, neuropathy, tendonitis, trauma, and more.
Differences in Techniques and Treatment Approach
Traditional Acupuncture always treats the patient as a whole, conducting treatments that address the patient’s chief complaint(s), emotional state, and overall body constitution. With the goal to not only relieve symptoms but also to address the root of the problem whether that is biomechanical, inflammatory, soft tissue, emotional, circulatory or hormonal related. Providing a mind-body treatment approach to medicine. Anatomical Acupuncture, Medical Acupuncture, Dry needling and I.M.S treatment approach focus solely on pain relief by limiting or correcting muscle tension, trigger points, biomechanical factors, and repetitive strain. Strictly providing a body manipulation treatment approach to medicine.
When seeking out Acupuncture treatment look into practitioner credentials and levels of training to ensure that you are receiving the safest, most effective, and highest quality Acupuncture treatments.