Acupuncture treatment involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and briefly left in position. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three. The practitioner will assess each patient’s case and treatment will be tailored to the individual; so it is impossible to give more than this general idea of what your particular treatment might involve.
Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts 5 to 8 sessions.
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the body’s release of natural painkillers – endorphin and serotonin – in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received.
Acupuncture-like techniques may have been used for over 5000 years, if evidence from Ötzi the Iceman is considered; however, the most well known system of acupuncture was developed in the Far East from around 2000 years ago. This was first introduced into Europe in the 17th Century, but widespread interest in the technique did not develop until the political events of the early 1970s allowed travel restrictions between East and West to be eased.
In the past thirty years, because of the huge public interest in the subject, considerable scientific research on acupuncture has been carried out – although much remains to be done. We now know much more about how acupuncture works and some of the myths can be laid to rest. It is demonstrably untrue to say that the results of acupuncture are all in the mind.
As we learn more about it, the possibilities of using acupuncture alongside orthodox medicine increase. The distinction between complementary or alternative medicine and conventional medicine is becoming blurred as acupuncture is accepted in medicine. Acupuncture is already available in most hospital pain clinics and it is provided by an ever-increasing number of GPs and hospital doctors.
Two of our osteopaths, Alan and Stephanie, have recently completed the British Medical Acupuncture Society foundation course in acupuncture. Medical acupuncture is distinct from traditional Chinese acupuncture in that a conventional medical diagnosis is made and needles are used to influence the patients physiology according to a conventional scientific view. Acupuncture can be used either as a stand alone treatment or in conjunction with osteopathic techniques to reduce pain and decrease the tenderness in muscles, it can also lead to feelings of calm and wellbeing. It is mainly used for musculoskeletal conditions, pain and headache but can also help with a wider range of conditions such as nausea. Further information can be found here.