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Sport Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy
Acupuncture and physiotherapy
February 24, 2017 | by Katie Wnuk

You’ve seen your physiotherapist for an assessment and they’ve told you that they think acupuncture will help with the management of your injury. Immediately, you probably have a few questions.

In this article we will explore the topic of acupuncture in physiotherapy, how it works and how it can help you recover from an injury.


While there are several different styles of acupuncture, at Fortius Sport & Health, some of our Physiotherapists perform anatomical acupuncture. This involves inserting a very thin, solid needle into specific points on the body. The points are chosen based on the anatomy, physiology, and the pathophysiology of your injury.


Let’s look at a specific injury as an example.  Lateral epicondylopathy (also known as tennis elbow) can occur as an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) injury.  It generally presents as pain at the elbow with, or without inflammation. Acupuncture facilitates the recovery from this injury in four ways:

  1. Reduces pain:

    Acupuncture stimulates the release of natural chemicals in the body called endorphins.  These are naturally occurring opiates that inhibit pain signals along the spinal cord.

  2. Reduces inflammation:

    Acupuncture increases a neuromodulator called adenosine which acts to decrease inflammation in the area.

  3. Stimulates hormone balancing mechanisms:

    Acupuncture stimulates the release of regulatory hormones which have been shown to help increase muscular strength and power.

  4. Emotional balance:

    Pain and depression share some of the same brain pathways and neurotransmitters. Changes in pathways can cause pain signals to be interpreted as depression.  Acupuncture stimulates pain pathways, and with pain relief, helps reduce the pain-depression loop.


Let’s look back at the example of tennis elbow, or elbow pain.  Including acupuncture in the management of this injury may help to: reduce the pain at the elbow, settle inflammation if present, help with the structural integrity of the muscle and help prevent the condition from becoming chronic with emotional implications.


At Fortius Sport & Health, we use acupuncture in conjunction with other treatment methods to not only treat the symptoms of your injury, but also to remediate the cause.  In order to maximize your recovery, acupuncture may be used in combination with treatment methods including: manual therapy, specific exercise prescription and modalities.

Not sure if acupuncture is for you? Talk to one of our Physiotherapists to see if acupuncture can assist in the recovery of your injury.

Visit the Sport Physiotherapy section of our website to learn more about our services or call to book an appointment today at 604 292 2501.