What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves using a series of single use, sterile, disposable needles of varying widths and lengths that pierce the skin at various points in the body. Acupuncture is used against a background of sound research and evidence, as a means of enhancing pain modulation via the stimulation of the brain and spinal cord to produce NATURAL pain relieving chemicals, such as endorphins; melatonin to promote sleep, serotonin to promote wellbeing, to name but a few. These assist the body’s healing process and offer pain relief as a precursor for other manual or exercise therapy.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce endorphins and oxytocin, its own pain- and stress- relieving chemicals. It promotes sleep by stimulating the release of melatonin in the body and encourages a sense of well-being by stimulating the release of serotonin. Acupuncture also stimulates nerve fibres to block out pain signals and helps to reduce the sensitivity of tender points in the body.
Would acupuncture help me?
We use acupuncture for a variety of reasons and painful complaints throughout the body. We sometimes use it if pressure (i.e. massage) is too sensitive but we need to release the soft tissue. It is a good source of pain relief when people are very sore. We also utilise it to reach some deeper points we may struggle to reach without the use of needles or particularly tight bands in muscles. Evidence suggests it is good for pain relief generally. It is used in treatment of Neck pain, Lower back pain, Headaches, Shoulder pain and Osteoarthritis of the Knee to name a few. It is also frequently used in treatment of most other issues we see in clinic including muscular tightness throughout the body in combination with other manual treatments and exercise prescription.
What does it feel like?
Most people report feeling minimal pain as the needle is inserted. As therapists we are then looking for you to feel mild awareness of pressure or ache around each point which is referred to as Deqi in Chinese medicine terms.
Dry needling is a slightly more vigorous technique used in some muscular points, but this would be pre-agreed with your Physiotherapist beforehand and we would expect a stronger sensation.
What sort of results can it have?
The evidence suggests it can have a good reduction in pain. However, it is not just a magic wand and requires dedication to your agreed exercise programme to deal with the problem at source. Acupuncture becomes only one part to a multi-faceted treatment approach in Physiotherapy.