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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is frequently used in physiotherapy practice. Most people have heard of it but many people don’t know what it involves, what it’s used for, or how it works. Read on to find the answer to all of these questions and learn if acupuncture might be of benefit to you.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture has its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been in existence for thousands of years. In TCM, it is used to treat a wide range of ailments, however the majority of physiotherapists (including the team here at The Physios), practice western acupuncture. The primary difference is that our knowledge of how acupuncture brings about change in the body is different to the beliefs held in TCM. More about this later.

The treatment involves having a series of fine needles inserted into various ‘points’ in the body. Western acupuncturists use the same points as TCM, but base their point selection on current knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and best research.

How does it work?

In TCM, it is believed that acupuncture restores the flow of energy, or ‘qi’ (pronounced chee) within the body. In western acupuncture, we know through research that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and the body’s own internal pain control system.

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

In physiotherapy, western acupuncture is used to treat pain resulting from musculoskeletal conditions. In practice, it is most commonly used in the management of neck and lower back conditions and pain during pregnancy, but it can be used to treat any condition where pain is a symptom. It is particularly helpful in cases where pain relieving medications are not well tolerated or when they may be contraindicated such as in pregnancy.

Other examples of conditions that can be treated with acupuncture include; whiplash, osteoarthritis, chronic tendinopathy (e.g. tennis elbow, golfers elbow), headaches/migraines, trigger points, nerve related pain such as sciatica.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you’re not sure whether acupuncture is appropriate for your condition, please get in touch.

What can I expect?

At the Physios, acupuncture is always used in combination with hands on treatment and exercise based rehab. Your physiotherapist will advise you if acupuncture could be of benefit to you as part of your rehabilitation.

Typically, during an acupuncture treatment session, a brief assessment will be carried out to assess your progress. The plan for that session will then be outlined to you. This may first involve some hands on treatment or exercise advice, or we may proceed straight to acupuncture. You will be positioned in a comfortable position. Often for neck and back pain this will be lying on your front, however it can also be done in sitting or lying on your side if you are unable to lie on your front. The needles will then be inserted at various points in the body. Often there will be some placed close to the problem area, but there may also be some placed further away, for example in the hands and feet.

The needles are typically left in for 10-20 minutes depending on what else needs to be addressed during the session. We often twist the needles part way through treatment. This is to restimulate the desired response within the body.

Often people know immediately after treatment whether there has been a good effect, however for some people it can take a few sessions. We would recommend a trial of four sessions to conclude fully whether it is effective.

Depending on the problem, you may just require a few sessions of acupuncture to help relieve pain. However some people, such as Maggie below, opt to attend for acupuncture on a more long term basis to help them manage their condition long term.

Maggie, attended the clinic for help managing a chronic neck condition. We were making reasonable progress with hands on treatment and exercise, but due to the severity of her pain, we wanted to try and speed up her recovery so we decided to commence acupuncture. At this point, her recovery really accelerated. This is what she had to say about her experience;

“As a retired nurse used to conventional treatments I was a bit sceptical about complementary therapies. However I gave acupuncture a go along with physio, it was like the icing on the cake…. AMAZING. It helped with pain and relaxation.” 

Keen to know more?

The answer to our most frequently asked questions can be found here. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please feel free to get in touch.

How do I book an appointment for acupuncture?

At The Physios, acupuncture will always be used in conjunction with hands-on treatments and/or exercise based rehabilitation. We don’t offer appointments for acupuncture as a stand alone treatment so you will need to book an initial consultation with one of our physiotherapists first. Tell you physiotherapist that you are interested in receiving acupuncture as part of your treatment and they will discuss this further with you at the time.

To book an initial consultation, click the button below, or call us on 0114 2678181.