What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of therapy in which fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body for pain relief, healing, and well-being. The needles we use at Redwood Physiotherapy Clinic are single use, sterile and disposable. They are very thin and flexible, about 7 times thinner than a hypodermic needle.

How does it work?

Acupuncture works by stimulating nerve endings to have an effect on the central nervous system to release neurotransmitters and hormones. These can reduce pain, boost the immune system and help the body regulate various functions. This is the western view on how acupuncture works.

The Eastern or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view looks at acupuncture balancing out the opposing forces of Yin and Yang in the body. When these forces are in balance the body is healthy.  There is a life force/energy called Qi (pronounced Chee) which flows around the body in pathways or meridians. If there is a disruption or blockage to this flow it leads to injury or illness. Stimulating certain points on meridians with the acupuncture needles relieves obstruction and unblocks the flow enabling the body to heal and regain balance.

What can I expect?

Acupuncture will be done either sitting or lying in a comfortable supported position. The needles are inserted in appropriate points relating to your condition. You may feel a warm, tingling or aching feeling when the needles are in position. This sensation is often only momentary. The needles may be left in position for between 5 and 30 minutes. People who are strong responders to acupuncture can show changes immediately, others may have slow changes and require more than 1 session to get a result.

What are the side effects of acupuncture?

Drowsiness can occur in a small number of people after treatment. It is advisable not to drive long distances or operate heavy machinery after acupuncture. Very minor bleeding or bruising can occur once the needle is removed but this is uncommon. Fainting can occur but is rare and this can be minimised by eating a light snack prior to treatment.

Is there anything my Physiotherapist needs to know?

Apart from the usual medical details, it is important to let you therapist know;

  • If you have experienced a fit, faint or funny turn or adverse reaction to acupuncture in the past.
  • If you have a pacemaker.
  • If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking anticoagulants.
  • If you are at particular risk of infection.
  • If you are extremely anxious about needles.
  • If you are pregnant.

What conditions can acupuncture be used for?

At Redwood Physiotherapy clinic, a western acupuncture approach is used to treat musculoskeletal injuries. It is used to help reduce pain, swelling or to stimulate healing of an injury if progress has plateaued.  Acupuncture can be used for many different types of injuries such as low back pain, Achilles tendon strains, tennis elbow and headaches. Not everyone responds to acupuncture but if you do it can be a very useful complement to other treatment modalities.

It is your choice whether you want to have acupuncture as part of your treatment and if you do not this will be respected and alternative treatments discussed.

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