How acupuncture can help you rid your pain
Acupuncture – a jab well done?
by Naomi Sofer
People are always very impressed when I tell them that I have a qualification in acupuncture, and use it to treat physiotherapy patients. But invariably, my friends and family lean in, give me a knowing look and ask ‘but does it really work?’ Or even more commonly; ‘isn’t acupuncture just a placebo?’ I thought I’d share some of the benefits of acupuncture, how it can be used within a physio treatment programme, and show the sceptics that stabbing someone can actually make them better.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture originated in China over 3000 years ago. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, a person’s good health depends on a balanced flow of energy through the body; pain and illness are caused by stagnated energy in pathways or meridians throughout the body. By removing any blockage, energy can flow freely and restore the body’s natural equilibrium. Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points along these channels, to manipulate the energy and restore its flow.
Physiotherapists use a ‘Western’ approach to acupuncture, which combines the Traditional Chinese Medicine theories with modern scientific research.
Physio use of acupuncture
There is growing clinical evidence that acupuncture can be used to treat a number of musculoskeletal injuries. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends a course of acupuncture for low back pain (2009), osteoarthritis (2010) and tension headaches (2012).
Large-scale clinical research has shown that acupuncture stimulates the brain to produce natural chemicals including feel-good endorphins, relaxing melatonin and the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, which speed up healing and provide natural pain-relief.
Physiotherapists use acupuncture to relax tense and tight muscles caused by running, gym-work or even posture-related neck tension triggered by sitting at the computer for too long – (quick, sit up straight!!) Acupuncture directly treats deep muscle tissue, thereby optimising other physio techniques such as joint mobilisation or soft tissue release. Acupuncture can effectively reduce acute inflammation by targeting pockets of swelling that are otherwise inaccessible, allowing for quick, efficient healing. Your circulation gets a boost, endorphins decrease pain and muscles relax, resulting in improved flexibility, performance and function.
If you choose to have acupuncture, the physio will insert very fine needles into specific muscles. Some people feel a sharp scratch as the needle goes in, but others feel nothing at all. Acupuncture can cause a dull achiness or heaviness during treatment, which is completely normal and means it’s working! The acupuncture effects can build up over time, so it could take several sessions until you feel a significant improvement, although some people feel instant relief.
Is it safe?
Yes. At Boost Physio, all therapists who perform acupuncture are members of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), meaning they have undergone a rigorous approved training course, are qualified to treat musculoskeletal injuries and are fully insured. The AACP has strict safety and hygiene guidelines that must be adhered to, including only using single-use, disposable, pre-sterilised needles.
Am I suitable?
There are certain medical conditions that may prevent you from having acupuncture, including certain heart conditions, lymphoedema and unstable epilepsy or diabetes. A physio can advise you as to whether acupuncture is appropriate for you.
So, what do you reckon?
True, acupuncture doesn’t work for everyone or every condition – but it’s very safe and can produce excellent results in conjunction with other physiotherapy treatment and exercises. So, have I convinced you that acupuncture may be worthwhile? Or is it just a pin in the backside?!
Call us, or pop in to one of our branches to discuss whether acupuncture may be a suitable treatment for you.
If you need our expert help, please call us on 020 82017788 to see how we will help you on your road to getting back to your best or book an appointment online
We have physiotherapy clinics in Hendon NW4, Hampstead NW3 and East Finchley N2 that cover the North London and North West London area. Each of our 3 physiotherapy clinics have physiotherapists who practice acupuncture and who can help you feel pain free faster.