What is acupuncture?

The practice of acupuncture

Acupuncture is used widely today to help with the impact of a medical diagnosis – for therapeutic reasons – as well as for preventative purposes. Many GPs use acupuncture because it can be a great way to treat, and ease, a very wide range of medical conditions. Currently, it is recommended for chronic pain, chronic tension headaches and migraines but can help effectively in many other situations too. So, what is it and what do you need to know about it?

Acupuncture involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles through the use of fine needles that are inserted at specific points in the body. This causes the body to respond by producing certain substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. The traditional view of acupuncture is based on the idea of ‘chi’ – or life force – that flows through the channels in the body becoming blocked and causing illness. Acupuncture can be used to restore the flow of chi and restore natural health.

How do the sessions work?

Most sessions last for around 20 minutes to an hour. They will begin with talking and the acupuncturist will ask questions to find out about your health, as well as your medical history. There will also be a physical examination before the needles are inserted. When it’s time for the needles, these are placed into specific areas of the body that are called acupuncture points. You might be sitting or laying down during an acupuncture treatment, depending on the points that your therapist needs to access. Acupuncture needs are very fine and only a few centimetres long – each one should be single-use and sterilised before it is used.

Does it hurt?

You can feel acupuncture as the needles are inserted under the skin. However, most people who have acupuncture don’t describe being in pain. Instead, the feeling is more like a dull ache or tingling when the needles are inserted. If you do feel any pain you should tell the acupuncturist straight away.

Finding the right practitioner

In the UK at the moment there is no statutory regulation, which is why it’s really important to make sure you do some research on the therapist you choose. They should either be a regulated healthcare professional (e.g. a doctor or a nurse) or a member of a national acupuncture organisation.

Are there any side effects?

For most people, there are only positive sensations during, and after, a session. However, some do feel side effects like feeling dizzy or sick, feeling drowsy or finding that existing symptoms get worse (often temporarily). There can also be a little bleeding where the needles were inserted or a little bruising. It’s generally safe to have acupuncture if you’re pregnant but there are obviously some conditions where caution is advised, such as a bleeding disorder like haemophilia.

Acupuncture is being widely used throughout healthcare today, especially when it comes to pain relief. Finding a great acupuncturist can make a big difference in your experience of an ongoing condition.

At Chase Lodge Hospital, we have recently started offering this under Martine Nates. She is an experienced and well-respected acupuncturist with more than 25 years of clinical practice. She is known for her unconditional commitment to each and every patient as she supports them on their journey to sustained physical health and mental balance., you can learn more about what’s included in our treatment packages by visiting our “Acupuncture” page.