Medical acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that involves inserting fine needles into certain points across the body, to encourage healing and pain relief.
Also referred to as ‘western acupuncture’, the practice differs from the ancient Chinese practice it derives from. While still using needles to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities, it doesn’t adhere to the concepts of Qi or yin/yang, as followed in Chinese acupuncture.
Medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture that typically follows a diagnosis. It can be used to treat a wide range of health conditions, but the most common reason to try medical acupuncture is for pain relief.A course of acupuncture usually creates longer lasting pain relief than when a single treatment is used. Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts five to eight sessions.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides guidelines for the NHS on the use of treatments and care of patients, currently recommends acupuncture as a treatment for chronic tension-type headaches and migraines.
Other conditions commonly treated by acupuncture, though not officially recognised by NICE, include:
Needling specific body parts is thought to stimulate sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body. This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It is thought that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.
While some people respond very well to acupuncture and notice improvements in their symptoms, results can never be guaranteed. You may find that there is no significant change in your symptoms following treatment.
That being said, the nature of the treatment often helps people to feel better in themselves, even if there is no real improvement in their medical condition. For instance, some patients notice that acupuncture promotes relaxation, and results in a feeling of improved well-being.