Acupuncture may be offered to you as part of your rehabilitation and pain management programme. Acupuncture is one of a number of different types of treatment that the physiotherapist can offer and there is good evidence for its effectiveness. Often a physiotherapist will use acupuncture alongside treatments such as exercise, joint mobilisation and general rehabilitation.
What is Acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture (which can be traced back as far as 1000BC) developed out of a concept of using needles inserted into the body as a means of balancing the movement and levels of 'Qi' (energy life force) within the body - an imbalance of Qi leading to disease, pain or disability.
Does Acupuncture Work?
Yes, but it does not work for all. Success can depend on a number of factors, which include:
- General Health
- The severity and duration of the condition
- How the condition has been managed in the past
- Research shows that 70% of people gain relief from acupuncture
What does acupuncture treatment invlove?
Your physiotherapist will use sterile, single use needles. The needles are fine (a lot finer than an injection needle) and the are inserted quickly through the skin and into the tissues.
How many needles will be used?
Most commonly a treatment will involve the insertion of between 2 - 16 needles.
Once the needles are in place your physiotherapist may gently stimulate the needle until you experience the De Qi. This may be repeated again throughout the treatment.
How long are the needles in for?
Needles can be in place for as little as a few seconds or 1 - 2 minutes. More commonly needles will be in place for between 10 - 30 minutes.
Where will the needles be placed?
Needles may be inserted:
- Around the painful area
- Away from it (hands or feet)
- On the opposite side of the body
How many treatments are needed?
Research suggests that for a longstanding condition such as low back pain, a course of 6 - 10 treatments is required to achieve the best results. There will be a need to top up your treatment. Your physiotherapist will discuss your individual management plan. Acupuncture treatment may vary depending on the condition being treated and how you respond to treatment. Each treatment should be tailor-made to you and your condition.
Is it safe?
Members of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) are required to train to a minimum standard and are bound by professional codes of conduct through the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and Health Professions Council (HPC).
Minor side effects:
- Some discomfort at needle site
- Drowsiness and sleepiness following treatment
- Bruising at the needle site
- Temporary pain increase
- Feeling faint
- other side effects can be discussed with your physiotherapists