What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has its origins in Ancient China and is now widely practised in the West and has become more mainstream. Here at Physiotherapy Matters we have a number of highly experienced physiotherapists offering acupuncture treatment within our clinics.

There are a number of theories as to how acupuncture works. Traditionally, the Chinese mapped the flow of energy through the body and called these lines ‘meridians’. Acupuncture needles were placed at specific points in the body which followed these lines and these points are still used today, whether you subscribe to this theory or not. The needles are supposed to readdress the flow of energy throughout the body, resulting in the alleviation of various physical and mental ailments.

It is safe to say that acupuncture is very effective for certain medical conditions but we perhaps don’t fully understand why. Western medicine would still follow the same procedure (e.g. the same acupuncture points) but it would suggest that the needles may work in a different may. The
‘meridian’ lines in the body probably follow a similar pattern to a lot of nerve distributions, so therefore placing a needle in a specific point away from the source of pain may influence the painful area. It has also been found that placement of the needles stimulates the bodies natural pain-
relieving mechanisms by releasing chemicals such as endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormone). The needles also act on the nervous system, over-riding the pain signal to the brain and can help any muscle tension to relax. Another form of acupuncture called ‘dry needling’ involves stimulating tight ‘knots’ of overactive muscle, promoting the healing process and causing muscle tightness to ease, although this type of acupuncture can be painful in the short-term.

Traditional acupuncture is generally not that painful and involves leaving the needles in for about 20mins and having them stimulated every few minutes. You may feel a warming or numbing sensation and then the area may feel more relaxed, or it can be sore afterwards but this would
normally ease. You would normally need 3-6 sessions of treatment close together but would need to try at least a few before seeing if there is any benefit as the results are not always immediate.

Acupuncture can be beneficial in the management of the following conditions:

Acupuncture is an effective form of treatment that we would use for pain alongside other treatments such as exercises. It can be used for a range of conditions such as headaches, neck pain and other joint or muscle pains but it is also not a ‘quick fix’ and is best used as an adjunct to other
treatments. If you are interested in trying acupuncture, your Physiotherapist would discuss with you if this would be a worthwhile treatment to try for your condition.

Resources downloads

Acupuncture – Patient Information Leaflet


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