What is it?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest recorded forms of treatment initially used in China as part of traditional Chinese medicine. It is now practised widely and accepted in its own right as a very effective treatment for various conditions. Acupuncture means ‘needle piercing’: the practice of inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific anatomical points in the body (called acupuncture points) for therapeutic purposes. It is commonly used to treat pain.
Why see a physiotherapist for acupuncture?
Physiotherapists at our clinics who practice acupuncture have developed a particular interest in it and have undergone post-graduate training. They are all Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) members. This means that they are bound by a code of professional conduct and standards set by the AACP, including attendance of regular training courses. Chartered Physiotherapists are uniquely positioned to combine acupuncture with other natural treatment methods, such as manual therapy and exercise.
How does it work?
There is increasing scientific evidence to support the effects of acupuncture, and research has shown that 70% of people gain relief from pain through its effects.
The traditional view is that Qi (energy) flows freely around the body through channels called meridians when the body is in a healthy state. If there is a problem, then this energy stagnates, and this can manifest itself as pain. These pathways or energy meridians are mapped out on the body. All along each meridian are named acupuncture points. The Qi that flows through the body along these meridians can be influenced by inserting fine needles into specific acupuncture points. The aim is to balance the energy meridians to permit the body to ‘heal itself’ and relieve pain. Research has shown that acupuncture stimulates the brain to produce endorphins. These are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. They assist the body to heal itself and enhance pain relief.
What is it used for?
Acupuncture can also effectively treat a wide range of conditions, but at our clinics, we use it mainly to treat pain caused by muscle and joint problems. Acupuncture can also be used effectively in treating of acute or chronic (long-standing) pain. It may be combined with other treatment techniques, such as exercise and manual therapy.
Who can have it?
Acupuncture is widely available as a treatment. Before proceeding, your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess your suitability, including a ‘checklist’ to provide you with information and gain your consent for treatment. Your physiotherapist will guide you through the form and answer any questions.
What does it involve?
After the assessment, a list of points will be drawn up relating to the pain you have come with, then fine single-use sterile needles made from stainless steel of varying lengths depending on the part of the body they are to be used on, will be inserted into the skin either by hand or through a guide tube. This is usually quick and painless. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or only mild discomfort as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.
The effect gained can be altered by the number of needles used, the time they are applied and the stimulation of the needle itself. When a needle is stimulated it usually produces a mild aching sensation called DE QI. Experiencing DE QI often means a better effect from the treatment. The results of acupuncture are cumulative, with a build-up as the treatment progresses. It does not work for everyone, but we find it a beneficial technique to help relieve pain, especially for people who suffer from chronic pain or for whom conventional medicine has failed.