What is acupuncture??
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine stainless steel needles into the skin. It has been used in China for over 2,000 years and increasingly in Western medicine since 1970’s.
Acupuncture may be used to treat a wide range of common health problems and to reduce pain.
Acupuncture can be combined with other physiotherapy treatments such as exercise, manual therapy and relaxation techniques. It can also be use when other more conventional treatments have failed.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce endorphins and oxytocin, its own pain- and stress-relieving chemicals. It may promote sleep by stimulating the release of melatonin in the body and may encourage a sense of well-being by stimulating the release or serotonin.
Acupuncture also stimulates nerve fibres to block out the pain signals and helps to reduce the sensitivity of tender points in the body.
Who can have acupuncture?
There are certain health conditions that may stop you receiving acupuncture or mean that the treatment should be used with caution. It is important to let you physiotherapist know:
- If you have epilepsy
- If you have a pacemaker or electrical implant
- If you have a bleeding disorder
- If you are taking any anti coagulants
- If you are pregnant or trying to conceive
- If you have a needle phobia
- If you have a metal allergy
What happens when I see my physiotherapist for acupuncture?
It is a good idea to make sure you have something to eat 1-2 hours before treatment. This will help reduce the risk of you feeling faint during the session by keeping your sugar levels up.
Between 1 and 10 needles may be used at a time at an acupuncture session. The number of needles used will vary according to your condition and symptoms.
The needles are inserted through the skin either at the sites where you feel the pain, away from the pain or a combination of both. The needles are left in for as little as a few seconds or up to 30 minutes. During the treatment, your physiotherapist may stimulate the needles by gently rotating them.
The needles are removed at the end of the session. You will be asked to take a few minutes before you leave.
How many sessions will I have?
The overall number of treatment sessions required will depend on you, your condition and your physiotherapist assessment.
Most patients receive a course of up to 6 treatments although just one or two treatments may be enough. Sometimes 1 or 2 ‘top up’ treatments are required. Treatments are usually given at 2 per week although this can develop to longer intervals between sessions.
It is generally clear after a few sessions whether acupuncture will benefit you and if the treatment should be continued.
How long until I see an improvement in my condition?
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.
Although acupuncture treatments can help reduce pain, particularly when other more conventional treatments have failed, it does not work for everyone.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture should not be painful, the needles used are the same width as a human hair so having acupuncture does not feel the same as having an injection.
When needles are inserted, you may feel a temporary, sharp picking sensation. During the treatment itself, you may have a feeling of warmth or ‘fullness’, heaviness, pins and needles, numbness, tension around the needle, or a mild ache or discomfort.
You may also feel a little light-headed or relaxed. It should not feel unpleasant. These are signs that your body is reacting to the acupuncture. Alternatively, you may not feel the needle at all.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is a very safe procedure when carried out by fully qualified professionals. Acupuncture is safe when practised by a member of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist (AACP) because of the strict health and safety guidelines that need to be adhered to. BOTH JONATHAN AND ALEX ARE REGISTERED.
Are there any side effects to acupuncture?
Any side effects tend to be mild and short-lived. They may include: fatigue, light headedness, bruising, soreness and redness of the skin around the needle sites.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact Jonathan or Alex.