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The Tradition of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and can be traced through written transcript as far back as 1000BC. Over the years with a combination of both eastern and western training, Acupuncture has been incorporated into mainstream medicine and is used by healthcare professionals to treat a wide variety of pain syndromes and systemic illnesses, and the associated symptoms. Today there is strong scientific research and evidence based practice to validate the efficacy of Acupuncture as an accepted modality of Western Medicine.

The principle of Acupuncture is based on a holistic concept of treatment and an acknowledgement of the body’s ability to return to its balanced state of health, or homeostasis, given the correct stimulus to do so. In western terms we talk about ‘disease’ and in TCM we talk about ‘dis-ease or dis-harmony’.

QI, the energy or life force, flows around the body in channels or meridians. If QI flows smoothly then the body is in a healthy and balanced state. As a result of injury or illness the natural flow of QI is disturbed and the result is a slowing or stagnation  of QI leading to pain and inflammation, or a deficiency in QI causing weakness and fatigue and then chronic disease. Insertion of a needle at a designated acupuncture point is said to stimulate the flow of QI and to act as a catalyst to the body’s self healing mechanism.

Therapeutic Mechanisms of Acupuncture

There is sufficient physiological research and scientific evidence that demonstrates there is a neural, vascular, immunological and endocrine response to Acupuncture. Over recent years there has been an explosion of research into the effects of Acupuncture on the brain using tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and it is accepted that Acupuncture influences blood flow to the hypothalamus and stimulates the release of neurochemicals which in turn influence organs and other functions. Hence Acupuncture offers the possibility of treating a wide variety of processes that are altered in illness or pain. One example : the hypothalamus controls the anterior pituitary gland which releases beta-endorphins which regulate the immune system thus promoting healing  and offering pain relief. The hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis mechanism is discussed in the Womens' Health on this website.

Conditions treated

A wide range of conditions can be treated by Acupuncture incorporated alongside Physiotherapy modalities, namely:

  • Sports Injuries
  • Back and neck pain
  • Sciatica and trapped nerves
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Hayfever
  • Allergies including hayfever and sinusitis
  • Respiratory conditions e.g. asthma
  • Neurological conditions e.g. multiple sclerosis and strokes
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunctions
  • Gynecological problems (see Womens' Health)
  • Digestive problems e.g. Irritable Bowel

Experiencing Acupuncture

A full medical history will be taken to ascertain whether Acupuncture would be an appropriate choice of treatment. The procedure will be fully explained verbally and  information provided in a form outlining informed consent. The needles are sterile, packaged individually, used once only and disposed of in special containers and then destroyed by incineration. The needles are solid but ultra fine (much thinner than injection needles)

The needle is inserted superficially and you will feel a small prick. The needle will then be moved deeper and you will feel a different sensation which is called DEQI. It is important that this sensation is felt to fully benefit from the Acupuncture. This deeper sensation may be a heaviness or a warmth or a deep ache at the needle site or an area immediately around. Sometimes you may even feel a sensation a distance away from where the needle is inserted and this is called propagated sensation.

Treatment involves using 2 – 16 needles and these will be in place for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the nature of your condition. The number of treatments required will also depend on your condition and how you respond to initial sessions.

There are minor side effects that could occur in certain people but these will be discussed before treatment commences. There are also circumstances where Acupuncture should not be used, or used with caution but these will be ascertained when taking a medical history and discussed.


Depending on your symptoms, it may be useful to treat with ElectroAcupuncture. An electrical impulse can be introduced via the needles using either a low or high frequency current. It is particularly useful in conditions where the symptoms are chronic and recent research is suggesting that stimulation using ElectroAcupuncture has a more lasting effect than manual needle stimulation.

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