We all know how effective acupuncture is in treating pain conditions; muscular tension, back pain, joint stiffness and even migraines, but many are still not aware of the myriad of other conditions that respond well to acupuncture! In recent months I've had an influx of interesting cases and requests, including (but certainly not limited too) fertility support, help to quit smoking, digestive upsets, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, depression, numerous frozen shoulders, and a wide range of stress related symptoms (including most of the above). In the past I've offered support and pain relief in cases of strokes and haemorrhages, degenerative nervous disorders (such as Motor Neurone disease & Meige’s Syndrome) and I am always up for a challenge!
How Does It Work?
Science has yet to explain just how acupuncture works (although theories have been posed that involve neurological, neuro-endocrine and cell mediation pathways - similar to an immune response) however thousands of years of anecdotal evidence (as well as more recent research studies) says that it does work. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory is that the points used lie along pathways known as meridians that carry Qi (energy) and blood to the internal organs then rise to the surface to nourish the extremities of the body. Needling points along these pathways is said to manipulate the way in which energy flows and can clear pain causing blockages, or encourage blood flow to the internal organs if needed. It also incorporates 5-element theory and aims to balance the Yin & Yang, allowing the body to function at it’s optimum level.
Does It Hurt?
Many are surprised to see just how small an acupuncture needle is by comparison to the hypodermic needles that they are used to, and find it hurts far less than one. Acupuncture can cause feelings of pressure and occasionally cramping around the needle site, this is known as ‘de Qi’ - the sensation of Qi responding to the needle. There may also be a small prick when the needle is inserted (often similar to a mosquito bite) however this does not last and is usually quite bearable. If you find a treatment painful, tell your practitioner, often we can use finer needles, adjust the angle of the needle or alter the insertion technique used to lessen the discomfort.
Do you do Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a term often used by manual therapists such as Myotherapists and Physiotherapists. It refers to the insertion of Acupuncture needles into trigger points in the muscles, but is not Acupuncture. Acupuncturists use a similar method known as trigger point Acupuncture or Ashi Acupuncture, however it is only one of many styles of Acupuncture and does not utilize the deeper knowledge of Chinese Medicine, as such it is rarely used on its own but in conjunction with other treatments. It is important to note that, while the use of the title 'Acupuncturist' is tightly regulated and requires a minimum Bachelors Degree to use, Dry-needling is not and can be performed with as little as a weekend course. If you are interested in trying dry needling it is always a good idea to find out how much training your therapist has completed, or for peace of mind, use a registered Acupuncturist. For more information, download this Fact Sheet from the AACMA.