Acupuncture Clinic

Over the last few decades acupuncture has become an increasingly popular form of therapy.

Ambitious claims have been made about the effects of acupuncture, not all of them substantiated. This has led to continued scepticism amongst doctors and specialists about its efficacy. However evidence exists to support its effects in certain conditions, primarily myofascial pain syndromes, and it can have wide ranging beneficial effects in some patients. As acupuncture works through harnessing some of the body’s own pain relieving and repair mechanisms there is substantial variation in the response of different people and different conditions.

First evidence of acupuncture dates back over 5,000 years to 3,200BC in Central Europe. Most people will be familiar with the development of acupuncture within traditional Chinese medicine from around 200BC. Acupuncture was first introduced into Western Europe in the 1600’s, but the lifting of the “Bamboo Curtain” following Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 really led to its development in the West within conventional medical practice.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment that can relieve symptoms of some physical and psychological conditions, encouraging the body to heal and repair itself. Needles stimulate nerves in skin, muscle and other tissues to produce a variety of effects, at the point of insertion, in the spinal cord, and in the brain. Naturally occurring painkillers within the nervous system are released, including endorphin, encephalin and serotonin, modifying the way that pain signals are received and processed in the brain. Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.

Each patient can expect to be assessed and treated individually. Typically a session of treatment lasts 20 to 30 minutes with a number of fine, sterile, disposable needles being inserted through the skin and left in position briefly, sometimes with manual or electrical stimulation. The number of needles varies but may only be two or three. Though traditional Chinese points are often used, the needle placement is patient specific according to symptoms and our modern understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the body. Treatment might be once or twice a week to start with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts five to eight sessions.

What types of conditions might acupuncture work for?

The following lists conditions where acupuncture is effective:

Head and Neck

  • Migraine (Cochrane review 2009)
  • Tension Headache
  • Occipital Headache
  • Frontal Headache
  • Unexplained toothache
  • Chronic unexplained earache + temperomandibular joint pain
  • Cervicalgia
  • Whiplash – best treated acutely
  • Chronic rhinitis

Upper Limb/Hand

  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis/golfer’s elbow
  • Osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist

Spine/Musculoskeletal

  • Back pain (NICE guidance 88, 2009)
  • Piriformis syndrome

Abdomen/Gynae

  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Chronic gynaecological pain

Lower Limb/Foot

  • Osteoarthritis of the hip
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle

Other

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting in pregnancy

There is limited evidence to support the use of acupuncture for stress, anxiety, depression, smoking and addictions, weight loss, and fertility treatment though acupuncture remains a popular option.