Acupuncture is now being used more and more for the treatment of muscloskeletal pain. Derived from ancient Chinese medicine, ‘Western’ acupuncture uses our current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology as well as the principles of evidence based medicine.
If you’ve never experienced acupuncture before, put simply, it is the insertion of very fine needles through the skin and briefly left in place. It’s not as painful as you might think and most people just experience a slight pain that eases off quickly.
The type of acupuncture I offer is Western Medical Acupuncture. As already touched upon, it is a adaptation of Chinese Acupuncture, using modern medical knowledge. Traditional Chinese Acupuncture uses the concepts of Yin and Yang and the circulation of Qi. This belief suggests acupuncture helps to regulate the flow of Qi/Energy.
Medical acupuncture no longer adheres to the concepts of Yin and Yang or Qi. Research suggests acupuncture has more than a single mode of action which makes it a more complex modality which is tricky to understand.
The main therapeutic effect of acupuncture is achieved through the stimulation of the nervous system. Acupuncture causes local antidromic axon reflexes to occur, releasing neuro-peptides and increasing blood flow to the area. Acupuncture also causes the release of opioid peptides and serotonin as well as other endorphins which play important roles in regulating pain.
Medical acupuncture has many uses including suppressing procedural pain, postoprative pain, nausea and even infertility but is more commonly used in the management of musculoskeletal pain. Following assessment and the confirmation that acupuncture would be a suitable treatment, needles are inserted and stimulated to obtain the required physiological effect. The acupuncture points used in medical acupuncture are not necessarily focused on a single point and may be local or segmentally linked to the area of pain.
So what exactly could acupuncture help you with? Well, a number of systematic reviews have concluded that acupuncture is beneficial for lower back, knee and shoulder pain, postoperative pain, tension type headaches and nausea. I have been using acupuncture in practice now for approximately one year and have seen its benefits with a large number of clients with musculoskeletal pain, especially lower back, neck and shoulder pain. Combined with other treatment modalities it is an excellent treatment that I would recommend to many of my clients.
I hope this blog has given you a nice understanding of the origins and the way in which medical acupuncture works.