What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into the skin at different acupuncture points in the body. These points are located along acupuncture meridians, or channels. Acupuncture has been widely used throughout China for thousands of years, and in Western countries it has become very popular in the last 30 years, with most GP’s now perceiving acupuncture to be beneficial. There are different philosophies around acupuncture, including Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Western Acupuncture and Dry Needling. At Takapuna Physiotherapy, our approach is mostly aligned with the principles of Western Acupuncture and Dry Needling, as this approach has scientific backing and is based on the physiological effects that it has on the body.
What is Acupuncture used for and how does it work?
Acupuncture is used for a variety of conditions, and can help to reduce pain and improve the rate of healing. It works by stimulating the nervous system (in the area of injury, spinal cord, and/or brain). During acupuncture, different neuropeptides and endorphins can be released by your body, which can aid in speeding up the rate of healing. Nothing is inserted through the needles; these neuropeptides and endorphins are chemicals that your body naturally produces. Your physiotherapist will chose the most appropriate acupuncture points to use for your condition.
Dry needling (or Trigger Point Acupuncture) is a form of acupuncture that is utilized by some of our physiotherapists. This involves the insertion of needles into specific areas that are dysfunctional or not working to the best of their ability. An example of this would be tight bands, or trigger points, in overactive muscles such as the calf muscle. This type of needling can sometimes induce a ‘twitch’ response in the muscle which is indicating a strong stimulation of the nerves within the muscle. It helps to restore normal function of a specific area within the musculoskeletal system. Due to the strong stimulation of these points, this type of acupuncture may be more painful and often the area will feel tight and/or painful for up to 48 hours after treatment.
How long will the needles be left in for?
This will vary between patients depending on the severity or stage of their injury, but is usually between 8 and 20 minutes. In dry needling, the treatment times are a lot shorter, and needles may be left in for just a couple of minutes.
Will the needles be re-used?
No. All needles are single-use and sterilised, and are disposed of after each session. The only exception to this may be during a single dry needling session, where the physiotherapist may use the same needle on a few different trigger points.
Is Acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is safe when applied by a physiotherapist trained in its use. Post-graduate qualifications are required at Takapuna Physiotherapy for the use of acupuncture. There are strict hygiene guidelines in place which all physios must adhere to. There are very few side effects or adverse reactions to acupuncture. Your physiotherapist will screen you to ensure that you are suitable to receive acupuncture, and will outline potential side effects to watch out for.
What conditions can be treated by Acupuncture?
Many different conditions or injuries can be treated by acupuncture. Some of these include: sports injuries, osteoarthritis, acute and chronic back or neck pain, whiplash, headaches, scar tissue, trigger points, bells palsy, and general joint pain. If you are in doubt, please ask your physiotherapist if acupuncture would be suitable for your condition.