What is Acupuncture?
The practice of Acupuncture originated in China. The ancient documents that support and explains the theory and practice are dated back 6000 BCE. For acupuncturists, who use a traditional theory, the focus is on the individual, rather than an isolated complaint. The physical, emotional, and mental aspects of life are seen as interdependent. Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to regulate the flow of ‘qi’ along pathways in the body known as ‘meridians’. However, acupuncture has moved forward into the physiotherapy world!
Acupuncture is one of the many skills used within physiotherapy as an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation and as a means of stimulating the body’s own healing chemicals in order to aid recovery and enhance rehabilitation.
How does it work?
Scientific research and clinical evidence have 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 (to promote well-being), to name but a few. These chemicals assist the body’s healing processes and offer pain relief as a precursor to other treatments such as manual therapy or exercise in order to aid recovery.
The body has the ability to “self-repair”; the use of Acupuncture or Electro-Acupuncture enhances the repair mechanism and enables an improved recovery time. This allows other physiotherapy treatments such as exercise, muscle strengthening and rehabilitation to achieve more effective results.
Conventional Acupuncture involves the use of single use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles of varying widths, lengths and materials that pierce the skin at the Acupuncture points. The Physiotherapist will determine the locations of the Acupuncture points, based upon their assessment.
Trigger Point Acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles following trauma such as whiplash injury; for longer term unresolving muscle pain such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or to obtain increased muscle length in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation such as sports injuries. Here the needle is placed into the affected muscle until it is felt to relax under the needle and then removed.
Following the detailed physiotherapy assessment, inserted needles can be coupled to the electrodes of an electro-acupuncture apparatus. These units are designed to deliver variable amplitudes and frequencies of electrical impulses. Low frequency electro-acupuncture is intended to contribute to the mechanism of pain reduction, especially stimulating chemicals from the brain which will aid analgesia, relaxation and sleep.
It is particularly useful in the more chronic pain problems and sits against a background of research to support its use.
Could Acupuncture Help Me?
YES! Acupuncture is commonly used in conjunction with other treatments to assist with acute and chronic pain in several joints and muscles. Acupuncture is very well supported in physiotherapy by the NICE (National Institute of Care and Excellence) and now commonly used more than ever in practice and in research. There are some medical conditions that can prevent you from having acupuncture, however our Physiotherapists here at Thorpes will discuss any past medical history with you in your initial physiotherapy assessment.
Remember, acupuncture may not be for everyone, and time will only determine whether it has worked for YOU! A Common worry is that you may have a needle phobia. Some needles you do not even see! BUT if you do have a needle phobia, please let your physiotherapist know!
Most Common Conditions
- Acute and Chronic Pain
- Neck, Upper back and Lower back Pain
- Tennis Elbow
- Knee Arthritis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Sporting Injuries
What To Expect In the Session?
Upon agreement with the physiotherapist that acupuncture could help aid your recovery and reduce your pain, the physiotherapist will discuss the procedure of acupuncture and what to expect. Several needles may be used at each treatment, and these are typically left in position for some 20-30 minutes before being removed. Dependent on the injury or condition, the physiotherapist may also place needles in the hands and feet, however only if YOU’RE comfortable with this. The effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative: different people respond in different ways and at different rates. Some people may feel an immediate relief of their symptoms whilst others may only see a gradual improvement after a few treatments. Some people may find that their condition/symptoms flare up for up to 24 hours after the treatment but then see a marked improvement.
How Many Sessions Would I Have?
The overall number of treatment sessions required will depend on you, your condition and your physiotherapist’s assessment. Most patients receive a course of 3-6 treatments although just one or two treatments may be enough. Sometimes 1 or 2 ‘top up’ treatments are required. Treatments are normally given at 1-2 weekly intervals. It is generally clear after a few sessions whether acupuncture will benefit you and if the treatment should be continued.
Who is an AACP Registered Physiotherapist?
Equally important, you should also know, from whom to get it.
Therein, AACP comes into action. AACP stands for Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist. The association regulates the best practices of acupuncture in the United Kingdom. The AACP also ensures the Acupuncture performed by Physiotherapists is only performed after expert training and uses all possibilities to prevent complications caused by Acupuncture.
If you wish to book a physiotherapy appointment or are unsure if physiotherapy or acupuncture can help you, why not contact our team on: 01276 37670 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are offering FREE 15-minute discovery calls where one of our physiotherapists can call you to discuss your problem and ascertain whether you would benefit from physiotherapy. You can book online here or give us a call.
As Always, Thanks for reading and We hope to hear from you soon!
Jessica Reed (BSc, SRP, MCSP, AACP)