Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine stainless-steel needles into the skin. It has been used in China for over 2000 years and in Western countries since the 1970’s with a growing evidence base. This is partially due to modern imaging techniques such as FMRI scanning which can show the effect when particular points are stimulated.
Acupuncture may be used to treat a wide range of common health problems and to reduce pain. It is frequently used for the treatment of low back pain, migraines, headaches and osteoarthritis. The World Health Organisation recognises its use for 54 medical conditions.
Acupuncture can be combined with other physiotherapy treatments such as exercise manual therapy and relaxation techniques. It can also be used when other more conventional treatments have failed.
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce a biochemical effect releasing endorphins and oxytocin.. .. pain relieving chemicals. It may promote sleep by stimulating the release of melatonin in the body and may encourage a sense of wellbeing by stimulating the release of serotonin. Acupuncture also stimulates nerve fibres to block out pain signals and helps to reduce the sensitivity of tender points in the body.
What happens during an acupuncture session?
I will complete a screening assessment and take a full medical history before explaining how acupuncture might benefit you and asking for consent to treatment. I may use between 1 and 10 needles during the session which will be retained for a few minutes or up to 30 minutes duration. The needles are inserted either at the site of pain, away from the pain or a combination of both. This type of acupuncture is often used for musculo skeletal issues but can also be used for headaches and systemic problems. Sometimes the needles may be stimulated using electrical impulses, this is called electro acupuncture and is done to increase the treatment’s effectiveness).
The needles are removed at the end of the session. The overall number of sessions required will depend on your condition and response to treatment. Most patients receive up to 6 treatment sessions although one or two may be enough for acute conditions. Treatment is usually given weekly to gain maximum effect, and the effects are cumulative. Different people respond in different ways and at different rates, some gaining immediate relief others only see a gradual improvement. It is not unusual to have a flare up of symptoms immediately following treatment but then see a marked improvement thereafter.
Acupuncture should not be painful, the needles used are the same width as human hair so having acupuncture does not feel the same as having an injection. You may feel a temporary sharp pricking sensation when the needles are inserted and during treatment itself a feeling of warmth, numbness or mild ache around the needle site. You may feel relaxed, it should not feel unpleasant, alternatively you may not feel the needle at all. (AACP 2017)
Acupuncture is a very safe procedure when carried out by fully qualified professionals. I have 25 years experience of using this therapy and am trained at the highest level (MSc Acupuncture, Coventry University 2014) so you can be confident that the treatment I propose and give will be completely safe.
TCM acupuncture is used to ‘rebalance’ the body- to achieve physical and emotional wellbeing. The technique is similar involving insertion of needles into appropriate points but the explanation of how it works is rather different- moving Qi (life energy) to gain effects. TCM acupuncture is also used to prevent ill health…..in China the ‘Doctor’ is paid to keep you well…e.g for seasonal illness such hay fever or asthma it is given before the season begins. It can also be used to improve immunity e.g to fend off colds and seasonal illnesses.
I use it for a variety of systemic problems including hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia, breathlessness and emotional imbalances.
This technique involves insertion of very small needles into pertinent points on the hands. It is widely used for pain relief and especially useful for back pain and pregnancy related pelvic pain.
This technique involves the insertion of tiny needles onto the external ear. The whole body is represented in a reflex way on the ear so very many conditions and problems can be addressed this way. I often follow the treatment by applying an auricular seed on a plaster to the appropriate point which when stimulated by finger pressure will enhance the treatment effect. Auricular treatment can be very relaxing and avoids needling into potentially ‘sore’ areas of the body.
Although not an actual acupuncture technique, cupping can be used to stimulate acupuncture points and the circulation of Qi. It is often used to relax tight or painful muscles and can be very soothing.