Acupuncture (Western Scientific)

What is acupuncture?

Western Scientific Acupuncture (as opposed to Traditional Chinese Medicine) is used within physiotherapy to manage pain and inflammation. Scientific research and clinical evidence has shown that acupuncture can reduce pain by stimulating the production of chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin and serotonin. These chemicals assist the body's healing processes and offer pain relief as a precursor to other treatments.

At Spire Hartswood Hospital we also offer auricular acupuncture for non-medical purposes. Patients who simply wish to treat themselves to a relaxation therapy can ease away the stresses and strains of everyday life with one-off or block-booked sessions.

What conditions is acupuncture used to treat?

It has been scientifically proven that acupuncture can help manage a variety of conditions ranging from headaches and back pain, to allergies and addictions such as smoking. Typically, physiotherapists use acupuncture to help with pain relief, to encourage tissue repair, or for trigger point release, to treat a variety of different conditions such as:

  • migraine, tension and cervicogenic headaches.
  • back pain (acute or chronic)
  • whiplash
  • sports injuries
  • soft tissue injuries
  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • bowel and bladder dysfunction

What is involved in an acupuncture treatment?

Conventional acupuncture involves the use of single-use, pre-sterilised disposable that pierce the skin at specific acupuncture points. The needles are very fine (a lot finer than an injection needle) and are tapped gently through the skin and into the underlying tissue. Acupuncture needling is not usually painful though some people report a pinprick or scratch like sensation.

Once the needles are in place you may feel a mild ache, numbness, warm, or heavy sensation in and around the needle. This is a sign that the body's inbuilt pain relieving mechanisms are being stimulated. During treatment your physiotherapist may gently stimulate the needles. Patients may experience a pleasant relaxed feeling, and on occasion may also feel drowsy during treatment.

The needles are typically left in position for 20 to 30 minutes.

Trigger point acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles following traumas or for longer-term unresolved muscle pain.

What happens after my first treatment?

Following a session of acupuncture some improvement in the symptoms should be noticed. This is often short lived and it is important to remember that the effects of acupuncture are accumulative. After the next treatment the effects will last longer.

How many treatments are required?

Research suggests that for a longstanding condition such as low back pain, a course of 6-10 treatments is recommended to achieve the best results. The number of acupuncture treatments will vary depending on the condition being treated and how the individual responds. Each treatment will be tailored to suit the individual and their condition.

Does it really work?

In recent years, western medicine has researched the effectiveness of acupuncture and been able to prove its worth. Acupuncture along with physiotherapy is now a recommended method of treatment for chronic non-specific low back pain by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. It is also accepted that acupuncture can help tension headaches and osteoarthritic knee pain especially when used alongside physiotherapy.

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