Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting very fine needles at key points (acupuncture points) into the body. There are over 500 acupuncture points on the body and these are places which are thought to affect the way that your organs and tissues function. Acupuncture encourages the body to release natural pain-killing substances (endorphins), thereby easing your symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Studies suggest that acupuncture can help ease the symptoms of:
- Post-operative pain
- Dental pain
- Chronic back pain
- Post-operative pain
- Nausea (particularly chemotherapy-induced nausea).
Many people have also found that acupuncture has helped them with (although further research is needed to support this):
- Digestive disorders
Many people use acupuncture when they find conventional medical treatments don’t work for them. Others use acupuncture alongside more conventional treatment, as a way of enhancing their existing treatment, and speeding up their recovery. It is a very safe form of treatment, which has few side effects, or complications.
After assessing your health and symptoms, your acupuncturist may look at the colour and coating your tongue, as this can be a good indication of what’s happening inside your body. Your pulse may also be taken. During an acupuncture session, normally 10-12 acupuncture points are used. Your acupuncturist may use different points from session to session.
You will normally be asked to sit, or lie down. Once your acupuncturist has identified which points are going to be used, a number of pre-sterilised, ultra-fine needles are placed into the points. These are normally inserted between ½ cm, up to several centimetres into your skin. You may feel a tingling sensation, or a dull ache when the needles are inserted. They will then be left in place for between five minutes and half an hour. Most sessions last 20-40 minutes. You will normally need approximately six to 12 sessions of acupuncture in order to benefit fully from the treatment.
The needles are disposed of immediately after use.
For more information, and if you have any queries about the treatment, speak to your consultant.
Continue taking your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.
- Soreness, bleeding and bruising
- The symptoms of your condition, or illness, may get worse for a few hours after treatment
- Sweating, dizziness or feeling faint after treatment, but this should only last for a few hours after treatment
- Serious complications, such as infection, and damaged organs, or tissue, are extremely rare.
Please ask your consultant for more information.
Acupuncture can affect everyone differently. You may find you feel more relaxed and calm, or tired for a few hours after treatment, or you may feel more alert and energised. Some people find the symptoms of their condition, or illness, temporarily get worse. Remember, you may not be able to drive after treatment.
For further information, speak to your consultant.
Paying for your procedure
Acupuncture costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.