Acupuncture Canada



Lessons from the 2018 Orthopaedic Symposium


Guest post from Catharine Maxwell-Palmer, BScPT, FCAMT, CAFCI. Catharine is an instructor with Acupuncture Canada and President-Elect of the Board of Directors. She practices in Calgary.

Orthopaedic Symposium

In mid-October, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Orthopaedic Symposium, jointly hosted by CAMPT (Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy) and the Orthopaedic Division of the CPA (Canadian Physiotherapy Association). The one-day presentations included speakers covering a variety of topics, from concussion to OA of the knee, from excellence to social media.


Reviewing my notes and thoughts after the day, I came away with several key thoughts:


Acupuncture is a key and useful tool in the treatment of our patients. Of course, this was not new to me but in hearing Jesse Lumsden (former Canadian Olympic Athlete) speak, I was reminded, from the athlete perspective that skilled acupuncture and needling is essential to an athlete’s training and recovery. Jesse spoke very highly of his treatment providers throughout his career and the benefit he received from “needles”.

Patient’s perception of pain

Pierre Langevin spoke about the Biopsychosocial framework of assessing patients. Essentially his presentation reminded us that two patients can present with similar chief complaints. In his example, he used a common complaint of neck pain. He offered an excellent review of pain sensitization and many of the factors that can play into a patient’s perception of pain, reminding us that the brain is essentially functioning like a dimmer switch: increasing or decreasing pain perception directly as a result of other factors. He included the following as factors: sleep, stress, fear, fitness level, mood, mental health, pain history, etc. While his presentation did not include the mention of acupuncture, I was immediately reminded that inclusion of acupuncture can help address so many of these noted factors.


Finally, a recurrent theme throughout many presentations was connection. Patients want to feel connected, seen and heard by their treatment providers. Patients have endless choice when seeking care. Differentiating ourselves by including high-level care can take many forms:

  • face-to face listening (as in a detailed, present assessment or application of acupuncture)
  • supportive technology (it can make a patient feel you are with them even when they are doing their home exercises, but be careful not to be stare at the laptop while the patient is relating history)
  • multi-pronged treatment approach and, critically, quality education (understood by patient not just said by us).

Excellence in our respective skill sets goes without saying but is not likely the only consideration for your (potential) patient.


With those ideas in mind, I’m heading back to treat some patients!

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