Acupuncture: from the Latin acus, ‘needle’ and pungere, ‘to prick’. The treatment modality of piercing the skin with a fine needle to elicit a therapeutic response is one of the best known and most accepted complementary therapies. It is employed in primary care and pain centres by a wide variety of health care practitioners.
Therapeutic needling may have been in use for around 5000 years and, for most people, it is associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Medical Acupuncture is a more modern approach to acupuncture and is used by suitably trained regulated health professionals in conjunction with orthodox clinical diagnosis.
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. It increases the body’s release of natural painkillers – endorphin and serotonin – in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain which subsequently modifies the way pain signals are received. But acupuncture does not just reduce pain: patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment and this can have a general beneficial effect on health.
Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.
For further information please refer to The British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS). The BMAS is a nationwide group of over 2700 registered doctors and allied health professionals who practise acupuncture alongside more conventional techniques.
Uses for Medical Acupuncture
Andrew Beacham uses Medical Acupuncture in conjunction with Osteopathy, as part of his package of care, predominately for the treatment of musculoskeletal and myofascial pain to help relieve the presenting symptoms and to encourage the patient’s body to heal and repair itself, if it is able to do so.
(myofascial pain is pain from skeletal muscle: a localised tender knot of muscle, often with wide pain referral pattern, frequently affecting neck, shoulder girdle and/or hip girdle, which responds very well to direct trigger point needling)
Andrew Beacham has found Medical Acupuncture a helpful adjunctive treatment for a range of conditions and symptoms, in particular providing short term relief for the following:
- Chronic Low Back and Neck pain
- Tension Type Headache and Migraine
- Knee pain caused by osteoarthritis
- Temporomandibular (TMD/TMJ) pain
Other conditions have been treated with medical acupuncture, but there is no firm clinical evidence for it to be included in the above list.