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 relief from pain.
What will acupuncture involve?
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 pin prick 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 postural/ergonomic advice, exercises, joint and soft tissue mobilisation and stretching. This combined approach is more likely to lead to successful rehabilitation.
What are the risks of acupuncture?
There are only a few instances where acupuncture treatment requires caution or should not be used.
Let your physiotherapist know:
If you are diagnosed with
If you have a pacemaker or may be pregnant
If you are currently taking anticoagulants or steriods
You are frightened of needles
Your physiotherapist will complete a checklist with you prior to commencing treatment.
How will I feel after acupuncture?
Initial treatments carry a small risk of temporarily increasing your symptoms. You may also feel a bit tired on the evening of your treatment. Some people do feel extremely fatigued.
Very occasionally a bruise may occur at the needle site, this is nothing to worry about.
Rarely, you may feel faint for a few minutes. Please make sure you have eaten something before your acupuncture appointment to reduce the risk of feeling faint.
It is advisable not to attend for treatment with acupuncture if you have a severe cold or flu.
Will it 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 medication?
Yes – unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
How do I know it’s working?
Be patient. Acupuncture is not a ‘quick fix’ and the effects can build up over several treatments.
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 GP’s 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.