Frequently Asked Questions

Acupuncture

Massage Therapy

Reference: The Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO)

Frequently Asked Questions About Acupuncture

How does acupuncture work?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers works like a dam resulting in restriction of flow. The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and re-establishes the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders.

The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:

  • Digestive disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea.
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections.
  • Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendinitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis.
  • Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problem.

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How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required.

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Are there any side effects to the treatment

As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and rarely require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.

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What are the needles like? Do they hurt?

People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. Acupuncture needles are very thin and solid and are made from stainless steel. The point is smooth (not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is less than when using a hollow needle. Acupuncture needles are sterile and are disposed of after use.

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Are there do's and don'ts for me on the day of a treatment?

Yes. To enhance the value of a treatment, the following guidelines are important:

  • Reducing or eliminating pain
  • Improving joint mobility
  • Improving circulation
  • Improving immune system functioning
  • Increasing lymphatic drainage
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Reducing tension within muscles
  • Increasing body awareness

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Is acupuncture covered by health insurance?

Some insurance companies currently cover acupuncture costs; other companies do not yet recognize the value of acupuncture. Each health policy must be reviewed to determine acupuncture benefits. More and more insurance companies are recognizing the value of providing coverage for medical acupuncture services.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Massage Therapy

What is massage therapy?

Massage therapy is a comprehensive intervention involving a range of techniques consisting primarily of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, specifically the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health. Assessment and treatment can include orthopaedic and neurological tests, soft tissue manipulation, hydrotherapy, remedial exercise programmes and client education programmes. The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain.

Massage therapy helps alleviate the soft tissue discomfort associated with everyday and occupational stresses, muscular over-use and many chronic pain conditions. If employed early enough after trauma and injury, massage therapy can greatly reduce the development of painful muscular patterning. It is a clinically-oriented health option that achieves undeniable results in the relief of an array of discomforts stemming from stress, muscular overuse and many chronic pain syndromes. Several research studies have illustrated that massage therapy has become accepted as a useful addition to conventional medical treatments.

While many individuals might provide massage, massage therapy should be provided by a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). An RMT is an individual who has completed a 2-3 year diploma program at a recognized school of massage therapy and who has passed the entry-to-practice Certification Examinations that ensures they have the competencies necessary to safely and effectively offer massage therapy services. The practice of massage therapy is regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) and is therefore a Regulated Health Profession. Only individuals who have completed the requisite training and have met the strict competency requirements of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) who is the regulatory authority for the profession of massage therapy, can call themselves a “Massage Therapist” or a “Registered Massage Therapist”. An RMT can provide a receipt that will be accepted by your extended health benefits plan for reimbursement of massage therapy services.

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Why should I have massage therapy?

There are tremendous benefits to be achieved through regular massage therapy treatments from a Registered Massage Therapist. Whether your need is to have a moment of relaxation, reduce muscle tension or attain relief from chronic pain, a therapeutic massage can enhance your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being as well as your quality of life.

Massage therapy benefits people of all ages. While it benefits the injured, the ill and the stressed, the strength of massage therapy in preventing illness and conditions before they develop cannot be overlooked. Massage therapy can be used in the treatment of both acute and chronic stages of conditions.

Therapeutic massage is an important part of your health maintenance plan, by:

  • Reducing or eliminating pain
  • Improving joint mobility
  • Improving circulation
  • Improving immune system functioning
  • Increasing lymphatic drainage
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Reducing tension within muscles
  • Increasing body awareness

Massage therapy benefits people of all ages. While it benefits the injured, the ill and the stressed, the real strength of massage therapy lies in prevention.

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How can massage therapy help me?

Massage therapy can be beneficial to people of all ages and conditions and is widely used to help obtain relief from many specific problems, including:

  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis
  • Stress relief and associated conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
  • Back pain
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Circulatory and Respiratory problems
  • Pregnancy and labour discomfort
  • Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation

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Can anyone receive massage therapy?

Yes, massage therapy is appropriate for individuals of all ages, including infants, children, and the elderly; however, there are some conditions for which massage therapy is not appropriate. A qualified Massage Therapist (RMT or MT) is trained to recognize these cases.

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Do I have to remove all my clothing for massage therapy?

No. Your comfort as a client is of the utmost to all Registered Massage Therapists, whether that is in the context of the clothing you wear or the treatment you receive. Massage Therapists can provide important treatment whether you elect to remove any, some, or all of your clothing. All RMTs are trained in proper draping procedures to ensure that your privacy is completely respected at all times during treatment. Your comfort and ability to relax is paramount to effective treatment.

Registered Massage Therapists will also describe the treatments to be provided to ensure that you are comfortable with them. Your consent is sought before treatment is provided. If you are uncomfortable, your RMT wants you to let them know immediately, whether that discomfort involves the treatment, draping or any pain you may experience.

Be sure and discuss the most effective means of treatment with your Massage Therapist.

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Does massage therapy hurt?

As with many treatments affecting the soft tissue, there are times when massage therapy can cause some light discomfort but it is not harmful. Discomfort usually diminishes and no technique of this nature is used without the therapist first discussing it with the client and obtaining your permission. A comfort scale will be established and the therapist will work to the client's tolerance level. The client can stop or change the treatment at any time and Massage therapists will modify their techniques to meet their client's needs.

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How often should I have massage therapy?

Some people believe that one treatment is enough; however, massage therapy is most beneficial in acute conditions when used over a series of treatments and then followed up with maintenance or preventive treatments.

Through mutual discussion, your Massage Therapist can help you establish a program which fits your physical needs and lifestyle. Your Massage Therapist is most interested in your recovery and in the maintenance of your health. Any recommendation for further treatment is being made by a qualified health professional and is made with your utmost care in mind.

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What happens on the first visit?

On the first visit you will complete a confidential health history as part of your assessment. This is important as the Massage Therapist needs to know if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications. The Massage Therapist will listen to your concerns, assess your individual needs as well as other factors that may be contributing to your injury (lifestyle, nutritional status, etc.). The Massage Therapist will then develop a treatment plan with you to ensure you receive appropriate treatment that will help you return, as much as possible, to your normal activities.

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What are the benefits of massage therapy?

Add a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) to your health care team to help relieve:

  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendinitis
  • Stress relief and associated conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
  • Back pain
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Circulatory and Respiratory problems
  • Pregnancy and labour discomfort
  • Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation
  • And many other conditions

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Who pays for massage therapy?

Massage therapy is not publicly funded by the provincial government in Ontario. Individual clients, either directly or through an insurance plan, pay for massage therapy services.

Most progressive extended health insurance plans cover massage therapy treatments when provided by a Registered Massage Therapist. Most do not require a physician's order for treatments, although a few may still have this requirement. Most plans require that the covered individual pay for the treatment upon the provision of services and submit the expense for reimbursement. Contact your employer for more information.

The following is a summary of reimbursement options available:

  • Employer Sponsored Extended Health Insurance Plans, which may be administered by private companies
  • Consumer Purchased Extended Health Insurance Plans
  • Veterans Affairs Canada, in the case of war veterans
  • Private Automobile Insurance Companies, in the case of clients who are victims of motor vehicle accidents (under authority of the Auto Insurance Rate Stability Act, 1996)
  • The Work Place Safety and Insurance Board, in the case of workers injured on a work site (under the authority of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997)
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (for members of the RCMP)
  • Transportation to a massage therapy office may also be reimbursed to persons who qualify under the Ontario Disability Support Programme.

You may wish to consult with Revenue Canada or your financial planner to determine if claims for massage therapy under "Medical Expenses" on your income tax return will be permitted. Most Massage Therapists are required to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and must advise clients when this is the case.

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Will my Massage Therapist keep my information private?

As regulated health professionals, Massage Therapists are required as a part of the standards set by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario to maintain the information you provide, both verbally and in written form, in the strictest of confidence.

In addition, Registered Massage Therapists are covered by Ontario's Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. As a result, information that is collected about clients may be collected only with consent, may only be disclosed with consent or to your immediate health providers (circle of care), and must be secured and maintained. Any concerns about the requirements of this legislation or about whether a Registered Massage Therapist breached the requirements of the Act may be addressed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

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