What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture treatment involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and briefly left in position. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three. The practitioner will assess each patient’s case and treatment will be tailored to the individual.

Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in the skin and muscles, 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.

There are two types of acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Western Medical Acupuncture. Both types of acupuncture are available at Long Melford Osteopaths.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture

In Chinese medicine, there are channels that run in specific patterns throughout the body. They are called meridians and they act like energetic highways, creating a complex transport network that nurtures and nourishes us from the inside out. Acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points along these channels to help restore and rebalance the body’s flow and to help illness to be resolved.

Acupuncture enhances the natural flow of energy (“qi”) and hormones around the body. When your body’s flow of “qi” is impaired, illness occurs. If everything flows freely, there will be no blockages or pain in the body.

The superfine acupuncture needles also stimulate the secretion of pain-relieving endorphins and stimulate specific nerve fibres that modify pain transmission. For this reason, acupuncture can be used to ease muscle tension and provide pain relief for some conditions.

Western Medical Acupuncture

Western medical acupuncture is a therapeutic modality involving the insertion of fine needles; it is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence-based medicine. Whilst Western medical acupuncture has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, it is principally used by conventional healthcare practitioners, most commonly in primary care. It is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, but is also effective for issues such as postoperative pain and nausea.

Will it Hurt?

No, acupuncture should never be painful. However, you may experience a reaction from the acupuncture points such as warmth, tingling, a dull ache, heaviness, or a short sharp sensation. The most common side effect of acupuncture is sedation, so you may feel tired after your appointment.

What to Wear for your Acupuncture Appointment

You may be asked to partially undress during your appointment so that your practitioner can reach all the necessary acupuncture points. We always aim to remove as few items of clothing as possible but if you do not feel comfortable, we will work around it. Bringing a pair of baggy shorts and a vest top works well. You should never feel uncomfortable during your appointment.