Acupuncture is now commonly used by physiotherapists to complement their manual therapy skills as part of an integrated approach in the management of pain, inflammation and to stimulate the brain to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals to aid recovery, healing and rehabilitation. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine stainless steel needles into the skin. Acupuncture is one of the oldest recorded forms of medicine having been used in China for over 2,000 years and increasingly in Western medicine with a growing body of scientific evidence and clinical research supporting its effectiveness.
The initial consultation will include questioning, observation and examination. The practitioner is looking for a pattern into which is woven a total picture of the patient’s health. Treatment will consist of the insertion of fine needles. These are sterile and disposed of after one use, ensuring strict hygiene practice. The needle insertion may feel like a mild pinprick and should only give temporary discomfort. You may feel a tingling sensation when the needles are inserted, but it should not be painful. Acupuncture needles are often inserted into trigger points (tight sensitive areas in the muscles) to relieve pain and restore movement. The number of needles used will vary and may be left in place for up to 20 minutes or more.
The frequency and length of treatment required depends on the nature of the condition, the length of time the patient has suffered from the condition, and their general state of health. Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. It can sometimes take several treatments to produce a noticeable benefit. A typical course of treatment lasts 5 to 8 sessions. The practitioner will assess each patient’s case and treatment will be tailored to the individual.
The benefits of acupuncture are numerous and may include some or all of the following: – pain relief, reduced muscle spasm, anti-inflammatory effect, improved sleep pattern, improved general well-being and increased energy levels. It is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain e.g. back, neck, shoulder, knee, trapped nerves, muscle strains, sports injuries, headaches, migraines and various types of arthritic and rheumatic pain. But acupuncture does much more than reduce pain. It has a beneficial effect on our general health.
Research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – digestive, respiratory, urinary, reproductive and nervous system, muscle tone, hormone output, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses. Modern science has shown that the use of fine needles inserted into specific points, stimulates the brain to release natural pain-relieving chemicals (endorphins and oxytocin) into the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. These help to restore the healthy flow of energy in the body, assisting in the healing processes needed to restore normal function to an injured area as well as giving pain relief by modifying the way pain signals are received and improving the functioning of the internal organs. Acupuncture may also promote sleep by stimulating the release of melatonin in the body and may encourage a sense of well-being by stimulating the release of serotonin.
Chartered physiotherapists are in a unique position of being able to use acupuncture on its own or in combination with other treatment methods such as manual therapy, massage, electrotherapy and exercise. This combined approach is more likely to lead to successful rehabilitation and is now widely accepted within the NHS and private practice. The Whitstable Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic have Chartered Physiotherapists who are qualified to practice acupuncture to complement their established manual therapy skills. They are members of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) to ensure they meet the high standards of skills needed to use acupuncture safely and effectively. For further information please visit www.aacp.co.uk
“I was first recommended to Whitstable Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic as part of the recovery process following surgery to my knee in July 2017 which just did not seem to get much better. I am a keen runner and was pretty desperate as I had been limping for months. When Kate suggested acupuncture I was sceptical but was willing to try anything. All I can say is that 48 hours after my first treatment my knee had improved huge amounts and following a careful recommended programme of stretching and exercises along with continued sessions of acupuncture I was ready to run and back by the end of 2017.
But my real testimony to the power of acupuncture was brought about by my own anxiousness to get running. I simply did too much too soon and developed serious tendonitis in my Achilles and was back limping again in January 2018. After rest, the Achilles was still sore so back to see Kate. She suggested acupuncture again using her “patented” ladder method, (it’s a lot of needles) which is mainly a series of acupuncture needles running each side of the affected area along with a weekly massage. Did it work? Well, I’ve just clocked my 300th kilometre running since the second week of April 2018 and I am writing this in mid-July 2018. Kate, “the ladder method” of acupuncture and a properly tailored stretching programme has seen me right and my target of running 10 miles pain-free has been achieved. Now it’s onwards and upwards!
Whitstable Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic were flexible on appointments and the late evening ones worked great for me with work. Without running I was getting down and the weight piled on. Not only did Kate put me right but her fantastic personality, a sympathetic ear and top class special treatment has given the feel-good factor again. I would not be back to enjoying my running again if it was not for her. I’m back regularly for a bit of acupuncture just to keep me ticking over and for any sceptics out there, don’t be afraid. Acupuncture works!”