Acupuncture at Perform Cardiff, Spire Cardiff Hospital

18 October 2016

At Perform Cardiff Western Medical Acupuncture is practised as part of an integrated approach to the management of pain, inflammation and tension. Our qualified chartered physiotherapists are trained and regulated by the standards set by the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP). Clinical research and evidence is used to support the use of western acupuncture as a treatment choice within the department.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture forms part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This dates back 1000 years BC and regards ill health as an imbalance in the body’s energy. Restoring the balance of this energy is the aim of TCM. Energy is referred to as Qi (chee) and is described in terms of Yin energy – quiet and calm - and Yang energy - vigorous and exciting. TCM believes that stimulating certain Acupuncture points on the body can help to restore the balance between Yin and Yang that becomes disturbed in illness.

So what is western acupuncture?
Since the 1970’s acupuncture has increased in popularity in the west. Western acupuncture is the practice of inserting thin single use, pre-sterilised needles into the skin at certain points in the body, depending on the area of pain or tension. The locations of the points used are based on a thorough clinical assessment and a number of needles can be used during each treatment, with typical treatment normally lasting between 20 to 30 minutes. Acupuncture maybe used as a standalone treatment or alongside other physiotherapy techniques.

Does it hurt?
Acupuncture is not pain free. However the needles the very thin and do not hurt in the same way as an injection. Your physiotherapist may gently twist the needles in order to stimulate them and this can cause a feeling of heaviness, soreness or heat known as ‘De Qi’ (energy flow).


How does acupuncture work? 
Acupuncture has been accepted worldwide mainly for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. The insertion of a needle into the skin stimulates the production of endorphin, oxytocin, melatonin, and serotonin. These chemicals reduce pain, stress, as well as promoting sleep and a sense of wellbeing. Acupuncture can also help to block the pain signals but stimulating nerve fibres reducing sensitivity of tender area.

Acupuncture can help neck pain and joint pain and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care excellence (NICE) for persistent low back pain in adults*, tension type headaches and migraines.

Does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture doesn’t work for everyone, or for every condition. Your physiotherapist is trained to combine the principles acupuncture with scientific evidence as a means of reducing pain and promoting healing.

Are there any side-effects?
When acupuncture is practiced correctly by a fully trained health care professional, there should be limited side effects. Some patients experience pain, bleeding or bruising where the needles puncture the skin, drowsiness, feeling sick, feeling dizzy or faint, or worsening of pre-existing symptoms.

Can anyone have acupuncture?
No there are some conditions that are contraindicated. Your physiotherapist will check this and obtain your written consent before proceeding with treatment.

How do I get referred?
If you feel acupuncture and physiotherapy may help you please contact the Perform Physiotherapy Department at Spire Cardiff Hospital on 02920 731 112.


*Update May 2017

A recent evidence review by the National institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has changed its guidance on the use of acupuncture in the treatment of lower back pain -Nov 2016.  The following changes have been made:

‘Acupuncture for treating low back pain is not recommended because evidence shows it is not better than sham treatment’.

The updated guideline on low back pain and sciatica recommends exercise in all its forms for example stretching, strengthening, aerobics or yoga - as the first step in managing the condition.

Following a recent evidence review in Nov 2016 by NICE the use of acupuncture in the treatment of Tension‑type headaches is still is advised –‘Consider a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5–8 weeks for the prophylactic treatment of chronic tension‑type headache’.


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