What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine sterile needles into the skin. It has been used in China for over 2000 years and in Western medicine since the 1970’s.
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of health problems, musculoskeletal injuries and to reduce pain. As an example, NICE Guidelines recommend a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture for persistent, non-specific low back pain. NICE has also recognised the benefits of
acupuncture for migraine and tension-type headaches.
Acupuncture can be combined with other physiotherapy treatments such as exercise, manual therapy and relaxation techniques and can also be used if more conventional treatments have failed.
How does Acupuncture work?
Scientific research has shown that acupuncture can reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving
chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin which promotes sleep and serotonin which promotes well-being. These chemicals assist the body’s
healing process and offer pain relief in order to aid recovery.
How many sessions will I have?
The number of treatment sessions will depend on your condition, you and your physiotherapist’s assessment. Most people will have a course of 4-6 treatments although just 1 or 2 may be enough. Treatments are usually given at 1-2 weekly intervals, and it is generally clear after a few sessions whether or not acupuncture will benefit you and if treatment should continue.
Are there any side effects?
Any side effects tend to be mild and short-lived. They may include fatigue, light-headedness, bruising, a small amount of localised bleeding,
soreness or redness of the skin around the needle sites. If you continue to feel tired after treatment, the recommendation is that you do not drive or operate machinery.
Can anybody have acupuncture?
Specific conditions that may stop you from receiving acupuncture or mean that the treatment should be used with caution. It is important to let your physiotherapist know:
• If you have ever experienced a fit, seizure, faint, or if you have epilepsy
• If you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implant
• If you have a bleeding disorder, e.g. haemophilia
• If you are taking anticoagulants or any other medication
• If you have damage to heart valves or have any active infections
• If you are pregnant or trying to conceive
• If you have a known metal allergy – specifically to stainless steel
• If you have a needle phobia
• If you have an infection or poor skin condition around the treatment area
• If you have a deficient or weakened immune system
• If you have diabetes
• If you have low blood pressure
• If you have cold/flu symptoms or feel generally unwell