Acupuncture is a holistic therapy used to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve functioning of the body. Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM),acupuncture has been practiced in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years. Acupuncture is safe, effective and is becoming more popular in the West. Furthermore, doctors are increasingly recognising the validity of acupuncture treatment as a complementary therapy to conventional medicine. 

The aim of acupuncture is to regulate the meridians of the body and unblock the stagnation of Qi or Vital Energy, as when Qi becomes blocked or deficient we feel unwell physically and emotionally.

Acupuncture is usually performed with needles (disposable and very fine). Various methods of manipulating needles can be applied to create subtle sensations. In certain conditions, some other techniques are used as part of treatment.

What can acupuncture be used to treat? 

  • Musculo-skeletal: Tennis and golfers elbow, frozen shoulder, pain, sciatica, arthritis, repetitive strain injury, sports injury.
  • Mental/emotional problems: Anxiety, insomnia, depression, manic depression, stress.
  • Gastrointestinal: Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, gastritis, indigestion, colitis, and ulcers.
  • Respiratory: Hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, catarrh, and recurrent colds/flu.
  • Skin disorders: Acne, eczema, psoriasis.
  • Ear and eye: Tinnitus, dizziness/ vertigo, conjunctivitis, blurred vision.
  • Nervous system: Neuralgia, facial paralysis, after-effects of stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease.
  • Urinary disorders: Cystitis, urinary infection, incontinence.
  • Woman's disorders: Menstrual problems, infertility, menopausal symptoms, hot flushes, post-natal depression, and uterine prolapse.
  • Men's disorders: Impotence, premature ejaculation, prostatisis.
  • Other: ME, glandular fever, migraine, high blood pressure, addictions, and phobias. 

Diagnosis and treatment

The initial consultation will involve taking a case history in order to be able to make a diagnosis in Chinese Medicine and formulate an effective treatment strategy. Case taking involves finding out (in detail) about your condition and many other aspects of your health, lifestyle and medical history. There will be a point where the pulse will be examined and the tongue will be looked at.

Frequency of treatments

This will depend on the individual and their condition. For an acute condition, a few treatments may be sufficient. As far as possible the number of anticipated treatments will be advised but this can be difficult to predict. Treatment is usually once or twice a week although possibly less frequently depending on the condition.

Are there any adverse effects from treatment?

One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of side effects. You may feel a slight tingling sensation when the needles are inserted and occasionally an acupuncture point may bleed very slightly after being needled and this stops almost immediately. Bruising is another rare occurrence. Sometimes a patient may feel a little worse after treatment but this should only be a temporary aggravation followed by a stronger improvement.

Advice before and after treatment

Acupuncture treatment can be done at any time, however it is best to eat a light meal beforehand and avoid unusually large meals immediately after treatment.  Alcohol and sedatives should be avoided for the day.  Patients should advise the acupuncturist if they are feeling particularly tired on the day that they attend clinic.