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Acupuncture FAQ’s

Acupuncture is frequently used in physiotherapy practice to help relieve pain, relax muscles and to relieve tension. The chances are if you are reading this blog, one of our team has directed you to it or you are due to attend for a course of acupuncture. This modern/western version of traditional Chinese medicine can be a stand alone treatment but here at The Physios we combine acupuncture with other physiotherapy treatments like manual (hands-on) treatment and conditioning exercises. Do see our acupuncture FAQs below before your treatment.

Do be sure to check Sarah’s recent blog on everything you need to know about Acupuncture also. Of course if you have any other queries, do get in touch.

How does acupuncture work?

In traditional Chinese medicine, 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.

Is acupunture suitable for everyone?

There are a few health conditions for which acupuncture is contraindicated, i.e. not at all appropriate. We rarely encounter these conditions in a musculoskeletal clinic, so there are very few people for whom it is not an option. It’s worth noting that it is not suitable for anyone who has a needle phobia or is very anxious at the thought of acupuncture. Other conditions such as diabetes, being prescribed blood thinning medications and pregnancy are conditions we need to be aware of, but we can proceed with caution.

Does it hurt?

There is usually a little bit of discomfort as the needles are initially inserted, but once the needles are in place, they should be fairly comfortable. The needles are usually ‘re-stimulated’ (twisted) mid treatment to remind the nervous system that they’re there. This can also cause a little discomfort. Removal of the needles is usually painless.

How long are the needles left in?

Typically, the needles will be in place for 10-20 minutes.

Are there any side effects?

Light headedness/ feinting/ nausea

Occasionally, people can feel a light headed, feint or nauseous after treatment, however this is very rare and anecdotally, is most often the case with people who are slightly anxious about acupuncture. Research has also shown it to be the case in people who haven’t eaten anything within the two hours prior to treatment. It’s therefore recommended that you have something to eat before attending for treatment.


There is a very small possibility of infection, however this is very unlikely due to the needles being sterile and single use.


Bruising can sometimes be evident around the needle site.


Some people can feel drowsy after treatment due to the release of serotonin that occurs. The plus side to this is that people often sleep well following acupuncture.

What should I wear?

The majority of the needles will be inserted close to the site of pain, so loose clothing that allows easy access to the painful area is essential. Needles are often also inserted at points away from the primary area of pain so please wear either shorts or loose legged trousers and be prepared to remove clothing covering the upper body. Females may prefer to wear a cami style top.

How do I book an appointment for acupuncture?

We trust the you found our acupuncture FAQs helpful. Should you have any further queries simply get in touch. 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.