Acupuncture is a wonderful treatment that can make such a difference to pain it can seem like a magic trick! However, don’t be fooled there is lots of scientific evidence behind why it works.
We use it most to help management of pain, inflammation and as a means of enhancing the body’s own healing chemicals in order to aid recovery and enhance rehabilitation. When patients are in a huge amount of pain acupuncture is a great way to reduce the pain and relax the patient without having to move them around the treatment couch when this is difficult for them.
Most of our Physios have taken extra training to be able offer Acupuncture and dry needling to their patients, so if you fancy acupuncture be sure to ask reception if your therapist can offer it.
What is the difference between dry needling and Acupuncture?
Acupuncture originated in traditional Chinese culture; however its ability to help relieve pain stimulated western interest. Western medical acupuncture or dry needling uses the same needles and often the same acupuncture points as traditional Chinese acupuncture. The only difference is the theory underpinning the technique.
Western acupuncture has been clinically proven to help improve many musculoskeletal conditions, so much so that it is recommended in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for lower back pain. “Consider offering a course of acupuncture needling comprising up to a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks.” (NICE 2009)
Will it work for me?
Research has shown that most people gain relief from acupuncture and this is in part due to the release of chemicals like endorphins and serotonin into the body during acupuncture which are pain-inhibiting chemicals. The scientific proof gained from the research base allows acupuncture to be integrated with conventional medicine. Clinical trials provide evidence that acupuncture has a powerful and sustained effect on musculoskeletal pain. It is now commonly used in Physiotherapy and pain clinics as a compliment to conventional medicine.
Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of:
- Migraines, neck disorders, tension type headaches , and peripheral joint osteoarthritis (Lee & Ernst 2011)
- Osteoarthritis – The Osteoarthritis Research Society International (Zhang et al. 2008)
- Chronic low back pain (Huffman 2007, Manheimer et al. 2005)
- The combination of acupuncture and conventional therapy was better than conventional therapy alone (Manheimer et al. 2005).
Is it safe?
Acupuncture is safe when practiced by a qualified Physiotherapist who has had extra training in acupuncture. There are strict hygiene guidelines: the needles are single use, disposable, pre-sterilised and individually packaged. They are also supplied in guidance tubes for easy insertion, with no risk of anything touching the needle during the process.
Are there any side effects?
Minor side effects could occasionally include: drowsiness post treatment, mild bruising at the needle site, temporary pain increase, fainting, minor bleeding.
Serious side effects include (VERY RARE)
Damage to internal organ from the needle insertion, infection, and premature onset of labour in pregnancy.
What does it involve?
Your Physiotherapist will normally use between 2-16 needles which can stay in for up to twenty-five minutes. During the treatment your Physiotherapist may stimulate the needles by gently moving them. Acupuncture should not be painful because the needles are fine and inserted quickly through the skin. However, some people will experience a pin-prick sensation. Once the needles are in place you may feel a mild ache, numbness, or heavy sensation around the needle. This should not be unpleasant. This is a sign that endorphins and other relieving chemicals are being released.