What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment which can relieve symptoms of some physical and psychological conditions and may encourage the patient’s body to heal and repair itself.
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.
Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.
Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.
A treatment will typically involve fine needles being inserted through the skin and left in position briefly, sometimes with manual or electrical stimulation. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three.
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.
Conditions for which acupuncture may help
Pain relief for a wide range of painful conditions. It is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, for example – back, shoulder, neck and leg pain
It has been used successfully to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains, sports injuries and various kinds of arthritic and rheumatic pain. It is particularly effective for arthritic knees.
Functional bowel or bladder problems such as IBS or even mild forms of incontinence
Menstrual and menopausal symptoms, eg period pains and hot flushes
Allergies such as hay fever, allergic rhinitis
Sinus problems and chronic catarrh
NICE guidelines now state that for low back pain, doctors should consider offering a course of acupuncture needling comprising up to a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks.
Sue has a Masters in Western Medical Acupuncture.