With millions of acupuncture treatments being carried out each year, acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practised in the UK today. Yet many people only discover acupuncture as a last resort, despite its widely recognised health benefits.
What is western acupuncture?
Western based acupuncture is science based. It is one of a number of skills employed within physiotherapy and often used to manage pain and inflammation. Physiotherapists only base treatment on the clinical evidence and scientific research that is proven to work. This area of research was originally explored because of benefits associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture.
The history behind acupuncture
Western acupuncture is derived from TCM. TCM is a very old system of medicine that dates back to 1000 years BC and is based on the idea that ill health is an indication of imbalance in the body’s energy. Restoring the correct balance is the goal of TCM. Practitioners of TCM believe that stimulating certain acupuncture points on the body can re-establish the balance that becomes disturbed through illness.
How does it help with pain?
Acupuncture has been proven to reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals, which include endorphins, melatonin (which promotes sleep) and serotonin (promotes a feel good hormone), amongst others. These chemicals help to speed up the body’s natural healing processes and also offer pain relief. It has also been shown to increase blood supply to the area being treated; this can help speed up healing times of injured tissue.
What is it used for?
It is often used to treat a wide range of pain conditions such as headache, lower back pain and osteoarthritis, but has also been found to be beneficial in other areas, for example whiplash and tendon injuries like tennis elbow and Achilles.
Can any physiotherapist treat you with acupuncture?
No. Legally physiotherapists have to be qualified with the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) to administer acupuncture, with extensive training and testing before treatment on patients is allowed.
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