By Richard McMahon
BHSc (Acupuncture), Dip Remedial Massage
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapy that has been an integral part of the Chinese Medical Tradition for over 2500 years making its way to the west in the early 70's. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine, single use needles into specific points in the body with the aim of increasing the natural healing capacity of the body and reducing pain.
Do the Needles Hurt?
Patients’ sensitivity is extremely varied but most people do not find Acupuncture to be especially painful. Once the needles are in place most patients find they feel deeply relaxed and calm. However, these treatments are not weak, and in order for a sense of pain relief to occur post treatment, some sensation will be felt. Sometimes treatments are uncomfortable but the idea is to get a good outcome, rather than being specifically gentle and potentially not get a specific result.
Are there any Side Effects to Acupuncture?
The most common side effects of Acupuncture are deep relaxation and drowsiness. However small amounts of bruising can occur occasionally, aching around a tight muscle that has been treated is common in sensitive patients, similar to a deep remedial massage which can last for up to 24 hours, and extremely rarely a patient may feel faint and light headed if they are sensitive and haven't eaten anything that day.
Can I Benefit from Acupuncture Even If I Don't Have Reason to Get Medical Treatment?
Acupuncture has a strong regulating effect on the body and nervous system and can be useful in reducing stress and encouraging better rest and recuperation. Overall, Acupuncture has the potential to create a positive outcome for different conditions.
How Long Will It Take to Recover?
Most patients are very relaxed and sleepy after treatment so intense activity shouldn't be scheduled immediately following treatment. If treatment was for specific injuries or strong muscle tension, it is best to rest after treatment and the area can be achy for up to 24 hours in sensitive people. The patient should expect to be sore the day after treatment however relief should be felt the following day. The acupuncturist is interested in the response the patient is feeling a couple of days after treatment rather than the immediate 24 hour response, often if the acupuncturist is interacting with the problem then a reaction is most likely going to occur, if a patient has a more reactive system they may be sore for a couple of days, but if that means that in a week the patient is on the road to recovery then that's a good outcome from treatment. All of these effects are temporary and usually not perceived as an issue for patients.
How Many Visits Will I Need?
It totally depends on the patient and is adjusted case by case. This relies heavily on how much a patient is willing to do as homework e.g. stretching, diet and sleep and how much stress they have in their lives.
Do You Use Herbs?
It is preferable to combine Chinese herbal therapy with Acupuncture when treating internal conditions such as digestive issues, sleep disturbance, menstrual irregularities etc. Herbal treatment aids in healing of injuries but usually external herbal formulas such as liniments or soaks are used in the West.
Do You Use the Heat Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is a fantastic therapy but due to smell/smoke I only use it when really necessary such as conditions of strong fatigue or when the patient has strong sensitivity to cold or strong pain that is worse in cold or damp weather.
Is It Similar to Getting an Injection?
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin so are usually much more comfortable than the larger needles used for injections.
Do You Use the Electrical Devices?
Electrical stimulation can be used to enhance treatment especially if the condition involves swelling e.g. chronic knee injuries or bursitis of the hip.
What Are the Known Conditions Treated by Acupuncture?
Musculoskeletal conditions treated include; lower back ache, knee pain, bursitis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, muscle tension, arthritis, sciatic, joint pain, sporting injuries.
Digestive conditions treated include; heartburn, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal bloating or pain and ulcers.
The respiratory system can have beneficial effects from Acupuncture; these include the common cold, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, chronic cough, low immune system.
Acupuncture can also help with women suffering from menstrual cramps/pain, irregularity, abnormal bleeding and menopausal symptoms.
Cardiovascular problems can also be treated by the use of Acupuncture; these include patients with high or low blood pressure, fluid retention, chest pain poor circulation, muscle cramps, stress, insomnia, withdrawal from medication or drugs, headaches, migraines, facial and inter-costal neuralgia, some paralysis conditions, post stroke recovery, fatigue, chronic pain, post-op recovery.
What Should I Expect on My First Acupuncture Visit?
When you first attend our clinic for treatment you will be asked to fill out a detailed form about your general health and the history of the complaint that you would like treated. It is important that you fill out the whole form even if you feel the questions don't relate specifically to the condition you would like worked on. This questionnaire assists in understanding the unique state of your body so that we can address any underlying imbalances that may be contributing to your condition.
Your therapist will then ask a series of questions to further understand your unique constitutional make up. Your pulse will be taken and your therapist may need to perform some abdominal palpation to obtain further details about the state of the body.
Sports medicine assessment techniques will now be utilized if you are attending the clinic for a musculoskeletal complaint.