Medical Acupuncture is a technique used to treat a wide variety of conditions. This method is generally known for the process of inserting very fine, solid, metallic needles into the body through the skin. The needles can be left in one spot for varying period of time and can also be manipulated by hand or electrical stimulation.
The western medical acupuncture approach is an adaptation of chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, as well as presents an evidence- based approach to this treatment modality for musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. While Western medical acupuncture has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, its practitioners no longer adhere to concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of qi energy, and regard acupuncture as part of conventional medicine rather than a complete “alternative medical system”.
Since being introduced to the West back in the 1970’s these acupuncture techniques continue to be studied and scrutinised by western scientific and medical communities for its place in modern medicine.
also known as intramuscular stimulation (IMS) and myofascial trigger point dry needling is an alternative medicine technique similar to acupuncture. It involves the use of either solid filiform needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles for therapy of muscle pain, including pain related to myofascial syndrome. Dry needling is mainly used to treat myofascial trigger points, but it is also used to target connective tissue, neural ailments and muscular ailments. The American Physical Therapy Association defines dry needling as a technique used to treat dysfunction of skeletal muscle and connective tissue, minimize peripheral nociception (pain), and improve or regulate structural or functional damage.
A physical therapist inserts thin needles, with no medicine on them, through your skin and into the painful muscle. Some people say this doesn’t hurt. Others feel a prick, cramp, or twitch.
A process known as the ‘segmental effect’ of acupuncture is most likely the main mechanism by which acupuncture is able to relieve pain. By gently stimulating specific areas of the body, nerve signals travel to the spinal cord where they stimulate one of the body’s own pain suppressing mechanisms involving the opioid analgesic system.
The nerve signals triggered by West Medical Acupuncture stimulation may go on to influence other parts of the brain too, notably the emotional centre of the brain known as the limbic system. Other effects include the release of hormones, such as oxytocin which has a calming effect and may improve feelings of well-being. Acupuncture has also been shown to help wind done the ‘fight and flight’ response due to its effects on the autonomic nervous system. This helps to explain why many patients report a calming and stress-relieving experience after receiving Acupuncture as part of their Physiotherapy treatment.
Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves under the right conditions. By inserting needles into injured tissue, we are causing tiny ‘micro traumas’ which stimulate our immune and other self-regulating systems to activate a healing process. The healing effects may also spread beyond the tiny traumas caused by the needle.
A process referred to as the ‘axon reflex’ is where nerve fibres are stimulated by needling areas in the skin and muscle setting off a number of nerve impulses. The result is a dilation of blood vessels and increased blood flow caused by the release of chemicals such as calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) and ATP. Because oxygen-rich blood is required for the repair of all muscle damage, the improved blood flow in response to Acupuncture helps us understand its effectiveness in treating musculoskeletal conditions. CGRP may also help with local healing and ATP may have further local pain-relieving effects.