What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest recorded forms of medicine having been used in China for over 3,000 years. Traditional Chinese belief is that energy flows freely throughout the body, via channels. When there is a problem the energy stagnates. Stimulation by acupuncture, at various points, helps to restore the healthy flow of energy in the body.
Modern science has shown that acupuncture stimulates the brain to produce natural pain relieving chemicals (endorphins). These assist the body to heal itself and give pain relief.
Acupuncture is offered by physiotherapists in the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP). Acupuncture can be used on its own or in combination with physiotherapy to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions. Amongst other things, acupuncture may help relieve back pain.
There are over 500 acupuncture points on the body. These points are places on your body that are thought to affect the way that your organs and tissues function. Normally 10-12 acupuncture points are used during an acupuncture session. You may feel a tingling sensation when the needles are inserted, but it should not be painful.
How does acupuncture work?
Treatment will consist of the insertion of fine needles. These are sterile and disposable, ensuring strict hygiene practice.
The needle insertion may feel like a mild pinprick and should only give temporary discomfort. The number of needles used will vary and may be left in place for up to 20 minutes or more. It can sometimes take several treatments to produce a noticeable benefit.
Acupuncture needles are often inserted into trigger points (tight sensitive areas in the muscles) to relieve pain and restore movement.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Chartered physiotherapists use acupuncture to relieve pain and other symptoms. They are in a unique position of being able to combine acupuncture with other treatment methods such as exercises, manipulation and stretching. This combined approach is more likely to lead to successful rehabilitation.
Frequently asked questions
Does acupuncture hurt?
You will usually feel no more than a mild discomfort on insertion of a needle, as they are very thin.
Can I drive home after treatment?
Yes, you may like to sit for 15 minutes before you go. Some people prefer to arrange a lift home after their first treatment.
Do I continue to take my tablets?
Yes - unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
How do I know if acupuncture is working?
Be patient. Acupuncture is not a “quick fix” and the effects can build up over several treatments.
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How long do the benefits last for?
This varies enormously. Your physiotherapist can advise you.
Why have acupuncture with a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists work as part of the multidisciplinary team including GPs and consultants and are bound by their professional Codes of Conduct and Practice. Physiotherapists are able to use acupuncture alongside other treatments to offer you a range of options to manage your condition successfully.
Further information about acupuncture.