Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, but has only recently started to become integrated into Western medicine. Acupuncture is the practice of puncturing the skin with needles in order to treat conditions such as arthritis pain or back pain.
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:
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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Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the physiotherapist you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All physiotherapists carrying out acupuncture in Spire Healthcare hospitals are qualified therapists and are trained to the standards set by the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.
We are here to listen and help you every step of the way.
You will have a formal consultation with a specialist of your choice. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and any concerns you might have.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
Spire Hartswood Hospital is based in quiet and peaceful grounds, just two miles from the M25 motorway and easily accessible from other major roads like the M11, A12 and A13. It is 25 miles from London Stansted Airport and 20 miles from central London.
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