Acupuncture – could it help you?

posted in: General Physiotherapy | 0

What is it and how does it work?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine stainless steel needles into the skin. It has been used in China for thousands of years and increasingly in Western medicine since the 1970s. Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of common health problems and to reduce pain.

Acupuncture is used by physiotherapists, against a background of research and evidence, as a way 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, and serotonin to promote wellbeing. These assist the body’s healing process and provide pain relief. Acupuncture also stimulates nerve fibres to block out pain signals and helps to reduce the sensitivity of tender points in the body.

Physiotherapists use acupuncture to relieve pain for several conditions including:

  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Migraine and headache
  • Muscular and joint pain
  • Whiplash injury and neck pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis.

What will happen at my appointment?

It is a good idea to make sure you have something to eat 1-2 hours before your treatment. This will help reduce the risk of you feeling faint during your session by keeping your sugar levels up.
Your physiotherapist will take your full medical history and ask you about your current symptoms.
The selection of specific points on your body is based on your condition and the presentation of symptoms. These can be inserted close to the painful area or away from it and in some cases on the opposite side of your body.

Acupuncture is not suitable for everyone and there are three situations in which acupuncture would not be appropriate:

  • If you are needle phobic.
  • If you have a known infection in the area to be treated.
  • If you have a metal allergy (stainless steel).

The needles are disposable, pre-sterilised and individually packaged. When the needles are inserted, you may feel a temporary, sharp pricking sensation. During the treatment, your physiotherapist may stimulate the needles by gently rotating them. This is done to increase the treatment’s effectiveness. People often report a feeling of warmth, tingling or a dull ache around the needles.

The needles are usually left in for a few minutes up to 30 minutes. The initial treatment may be short in order to gauge your response to treatment and subsequent treatments will be based upon this response.

The number of treatment sessions can vary. Some patients respond quickly while others require a longer course of treatment before the cumulative benefits are felt. Usually those with chronic conditions require more treatment. It is usual to have treatment performed on a weekly basis in order to improve the outcome.

Are There any Side Effects to Acupuncture?
Any side effects tend to be mild and short-lived including:
Fatigue
Light-headedness
Bruising
Localised bleeding, soreness, redness or mottling of the skin around the needle sites.

If you continue to feel tired after a treatment, it is recommended that you do not drive or operate machinery.

Call us or book in for a consultation to find out more.