Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old Chinese medical philosophy, which aims to balance the flow of energy within the body. It is used to address any imbalances which are the cause of many physical disorders and conditions of emotional distress. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms of the illness and the underlying cause.
The original methodology describes the flow of energy, or Qi (pronounced Chi) and using acupuncture in meridians is said to encourage the flow of energy or Qi.
However, in the modern day and as physiotherapists and osteopaths we tend to use a Western form of acupuncture, often referred to as Dry Needling. We focus the acupuncture around painful joints, such as an osteoarthritic knee joint, or frozen shoulder, and use the acupuncture to reduce pain. This is a Western principle based on the Pain Gate Theory.
Acupuncture tends to be a treatment that can have miracle effects, with patients reporting significant improvements in pain and function after 2-6 treatment sessions. However, it can be hit-and-miss and we estimate acupuncture to be about 50% successful. If patients want acupuncture, we always prescribe exercises as well so that benefits can be achieved short term with the acupuncture and longer term with the exercises.
Does it hurt?
There may well be a sensation when the needle makes contact with the skin, and again when it enters the muscle which feels like a pinch, but this only lasts for the first few seconds at initial contact.
Is there any blood?
There is rarely any bleeding, and if it does happen, it is usually a spot of blood. However, this is unusual and rare.
Is there a risk of infection?
There is a tiny risk, but we use sterile in-date acupuncture needles and we have never had a case of infection at the Surrey Physio clinic. If you are immune-suppressed, or on medication that might lower your resilience, you should discuss this first with a physiotherapist.
Are there any other risks?
Acupuncture is very safe when performed by UK regulated and qualified acupuncturists, including all those who practice acupuncture at Surrey Physio. For more information, see our consent form.
Will I be in pain afterward?
Patients often find immediate relief or a numbing feeling following acupuncture. It is very unusual to experience an increase in pain following acupuncture. If you do have an increase in symptoms, let us know, or applying an ice-pack for 5-10 minutes (wrapped in a towel) can reduce any local discomfort.
Are there any side-effects?
Some patients report feeling tired after acupuncture, and we have had two patients faint following acupuncture over the last 20 years, but this is extremely rare, and often caused by anxiety around the treatment. If you are particularly needle phobic, then acupuncture probably is not for you.
Which needles do we use?
We buy our needles from Harmony Medical, via the AACP website. They are sterile, safe, and we don’t re-use our needles. Needles tend to be about 0.22mm to 0.25mm – so very thin, that’s just a ¼ of a millimeter! Much thinner than a hypodermic needle.
Who are the AACP?
The AACP is the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists. In line with their recommendations, our physiotherapists are registered with the AACP and complete the 80-hour foundation training. Our physiotherapists also do the required ten hours of continuing professional development on acupuncture every two years (actually our team tends to do much more than that). Some of our team also attend the AACP Annual Conference. For more information, see https://www.aacp.org.uk/
What conditions can Acupuncture help?
As Western medical acupuncturists, we tend to focus on joint and muscle pains, and osteoarthritis. We use acupuncture where the evidence or research suggests that acupuncture can provide pain relief or symptomatic improvement.
Many of our physiotherapists are qualified to administer acupuncture and some use this alongside treatment programmes, dependant upon the individual and the condition. If you are interested in having acupuncture as part of your rehabilitation, just ask your physiotherapist or osteopath when you see them.