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Acupuncture - Debunking The Myths

You have, I’m sure, seen that we offer different types of treatment for back pain… one of which is Acupuncture. There’s usually an air of mystery surrounding this type of alternative treatment, so I’d like to share some valuable information with you.

For our first port of call, let’s time-hop to a different time and place…

China, thousands of years ago…

Acupuncture was born from deep massage therapy, using small but weighty objects such as stones. Over time, practitioners began to identify specific points on the body that were most effective for treating certain health issues, and so they began sharpening the stones, (later adopting bamboo and animal bones and applying the same technique) until they eventually started piercing the skin where they would normally have placed the stones.

The types of material used, changed over the years; needles were formed from gold, silver and iron. The choice of metal was dependant on the condition it was going to treat – gold was for deficiencies or weaknesses in the human body, or tonification (gentle stimulation of the acupuncture point); while silver was selected for its ability to treat fevers, aches and inflammation.

Fast forward to modern day - acupuncturists now use stainless steel, and contrary to ancient China where needles were reused, most are now disposable.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Acupuncture?

The World Health Organisation concludes, (after significant volumes of trials over many years), that acupuncture has been proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of health issues, including;

  • Chronic back problems

  • Sciatica

  • Muscle spasms

  • Neck pain

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Headaches and migraine

  • Tennis elbow

  • Sprains

  • Hay fever

  • Depression

The complete list is extensive and as such, if you’d like to see more on this, here’s a link to the British Acupuncture Council website where you can download a fact sheet -

Ever been asked by a medical professional whether your pain is dull and aching, or sharp and stabbing?

There’s a good reason behind it.

As a rule of thumb, if your pain is a dull ache, it’s likely to be a muscular problem.

If it’s sharp and stabbing, you may find that there are nerve endings are involved … and it’s here where acupuncture can provide real benefit.

Don’t worry – the needles aren’t inserted into the nerve endings themselves; their purpose is to allow fresh blood to flow around them, which assists with the healing process.

This is one myth of many which has been associated with acupuncture over the years.

While we’re at it, let’s break some more….

1) Acupuncture Hurts

You’d think that any form of treatment involving needles is going to be painful… but these aren’t the normal needles you’d see in a doctor’s surgery. They’re ultra-thin, and only slightly thicker than a strand of human hair.

2) Acupuncture only has a placebo effect

Studies reviewed by the WHO {please refer to the link above) have shown that the brain releases chemicals such as endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) during acupuncture. It also helps reduce inflammation, and boosts the immune system.

3) Acupuncture may conflict with traditional treatments prescribed by your doctor

Quite the contrary - they complement each other very well. We’d never advocate acupuncture to replace prescribed medication or other treatments. They work well in tandem.

4) Acupuncture is only good for treating pain

If you’ve taken a look at the link (above) already, you’ll see that the British Acupuncture Council have identified other conditions where it can help, such as nausea, morning sickness, allergies and depression.

5) It’s an alternative therapy that no modern day professional would recommend

Acupuncture is currently available on the NHS, and is used in the majority of pain clinics and hospices.

So how does it work?

The length and thickness of needle depends on the type of treatment required, and which part of the body is being treated. For example, the shorter needles are used where there is the least muscle or fat, such as the face. Longer needles are applied to the back or legs.

Needles are polished and sharpened to ensure consistency which, contrary to how it sounds, actually allows for an almost painless treatment. The finer the gauge, the less you’ll feel the needles enter the skin.

Insertion of the Needles

The Chinese have documented that there are around 2000 acupuncture points on the human body. The angle and depth at which they are inserted is dependent on the part of the body being treated. (We also take age, and medical history into consideration.)

How Many Sessions Will You Need?

Depending on the exact nature of your condition, we may ask to see you once or twice a week. Chronic and long-standing conditions will generally need more sessions overall than, say, an infrequent migraine.

And finally....

You can now see that every patient who undertakes acupuncture to help relieve their pain and discomfort, is looked at on an individual basis. We spend time prior to your treatment, to understand the origin and nature of your existing issue, because it determines our approach.

If you’d like to find out more, or book an appointment, head over to our Contact Page to fill out the form where we'll contact you at your convenience, or simply call us on 0121 325 1927.

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