MEDICAL ACUPUNCTURE & DRY NEEDLING
At Chapel Place Osteopaths we sometimes use Medical Acupuncture alongside Osteopathic treatment as we find the combination to be an effective way to reduce pain and muscle tension. Not everyone likes the idea of acupuncture and it is not essential part of treatment, but here we describe what it’s all about.
Acupuncture is a treatment that consists in pricking the patient with a very fine sterile needle. The original style developed in China about 2,000 years ago and continues today using concepts from traditional Chinese medicine.
Today there is also a version of acupuncture that explains the treatment in modern scientific terms called Western Medical Acupuncture or Dry Needling used by a range of professionals including doctors, dentists, nurses, osteopaths and physiotherapists. This is the style we use at Chapel Place Osteopaths.
What happens in Medical Acupuncture?
We use Medical Acupuncture primarily to help reduce pain, including arthritic pain, muscle tension and symptoms associated with trapped nerves.
At any point in the process you can change your mind and stop the needling.
All the needles come in individual sterilised packets and are used only once in one part of the body and then disposed of in a medical waste bin.
The process does not take long. Normally in involves placing a needle close to the symptomatic area or a part of your body linked to that area. Almost always the needles are placed in an area of muscle and will be left in that position for about 1 minute.
Compared to needles used for injections the acupuncture needles we use are very fine (0.30mm diameter). Sometimes you may not even feel the needle, but often there is a feeling of slight discomfort, pressure or a small amount of pain or tingling. Depending on the reason for the needling we may turn the needle to increase your awareness of it or to cause muscles to contract and relax.
How does Western Medical Acupuncture work?
A lot of research on this question has been done in recent years. Much remains to be discovered, but today there is a plausible scientific basis for Western Medical Acupuncture. Mechanisms include:
- Changes in the tissues at the site of needle insertion that probably speed up healing of injuries.
- The modern understanding of pain is that it depends on complex patterns of activity in the spinal cord and brain. There is good evidence that acupuncture can alter and interfere with these patterns to reduce the perception and intensity of pain.
- A lot of pain in muscles and joints is thought to be due to what are called trigger points within muscles. These are like knots, which hurt when pressed and cause pain to radiate to other places. Needling these can relieve pain and increase the range of movement.
- Belief doesn’t matter. In fact, the best results are often seen in people who didn’t expect it to work! Provided you are willing to have the treatment it may work
Can Medical Acupuncture cause any harm?
Acupuncture is safer than taking most over-the-counter medicines for pain. This assumes, that the acupuncture is performed by someone with a detailed knowledge of anatomy and medicine. At Chapel Place Osteopaths we only place needles in positions safely away from organs and major blood vessels.
Sometimes a small bruise appears where the needle was inserted. This isn’t serious; it just means a tiny vein was broken by the needle, which will resolve quickly on its own.
All the needles are disposed of immediately after use; there is no possibility of transmission AIDs or Hepatitis or infectious diseases.
If you are pregnant you should tell your acupuncturist in case any modification of treatment is required. A recent review of acupuncture in pregnancy has been reassuring.
If you’re a blood donor we can give you a letter to show to the donor authorities, explaining that you have had acupuncture from a regulated health professional with single-use disposable needles. This will usually allow you to give blood.
Drowsiness after acupuncture is fairly common. You should therefore be cautious about driving for the rest of the day and be prepared for your reflexes to be slower than normal.