Acupuncture – What is it? & How does it work?

Jul 28, 2014

Optimal Physio is very proud to be able to offer acupuncture to our patients. But what exactly is it and how does it work? Here is an introduction to this 3,000 year old form of treatment by our physio Yvonne Dallman.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of treatment that physiotherapists use to treat a range of musculoskeletal problems and injuries. It originated as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and over the past 30 years, has grown in popularity in Western practise.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into different points on the body. The insertion of the acupuncture needles stimulates blood flow. This promotes healing by bringing oxygen and nutrients to the injured or damaged area. The needles also cause the body to release endorphins. These endorphins are the body’s “natural pain killers” and so an analgesic effect can be achieved without the use of medication.

What can acupuncture be used for?

Acupuncture can be used for a wide range of conditions including joint pain, back pain, neck pain and soft tissue injuries. Acupuncture is particularly well supported in the treatment of back pain. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advocates acupuncture as a treatment of choice for the management of persistent lower back pain.

What happens?

In a typical treatment session, your physiotherapist will ask for your medical history and assess you, before inserting acupuncture needles. Acupuncture treatment sessions last anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending upon the condition being treated. Needles are inserted into “acupuncture points” on the body- there are over 300 of these points. However, don’t worry (!), in a typical session between 1 and 12 points are used. Once the needles are in place, your physiotherapist will stimulate them at regular intervals to encourage blood flow and endorphin release. Generally, anywhere from 6 to 12 sessions are recommended.

Is it safe?

Yes. When done by a qualified therapist, acupuncture is an extremely safe treatment choice. The needles used are sterile and for single use only- they are used once and discarded. There are fewer adverse effects associated with acupuncture than with many standard medications.

Is it painful?

Acupuncture is not painful. When the needles are first inserted, you may feel a “nipping” sensation- no more painful than plucking a hair. This normally subsides in seconds. Patients generally use the words “warm” “heavy” or “tingling” to describe how the acupuncture area feels during treatment.

If you would like to find out more about acupuncture, please get in touch on 0141 644 8200 or Even better, why not take advantage of our FREE 10 minute “Fit For Physio” Assessment and find out if acupuncture is right for you. Remember you can also book online.

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