Rhian Davies, Lead Physiotherapist and Clinic Director at one2one Therapies in Bridgend, discusses why acupuncture is increasing in popularity among physiotherapists and why it is such a popular treatment at their Bridgend clinic.
Acupuncture is growing in popularity among physiotherapists, in fact statistics gleaned by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists show that over 6,000 of their members now use acupuncture in their physiotherapy practice.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique dating back over 5,000 years. Primarily used in China, it involves inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin at specific points to stimulate energy flow and restore balance.
While this is a long-established Eastern therapy, the benefits of acupuncture are slowly being endorsed by Western medicine.
In 2009 the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended making acupuncture available on the NHS in England and Wales for chronic back pain. An update to the NHS constitution in March 2010 gives all patients a statutory right to receive NICE-approved treatments if their doctor deems them appropriate.
This is a definite step forward for practitioners, it is important to note, however, that the treatment does not work for everyone – and can leave patients feeling light-headed, so we don’t recommend driving straight after a treatment.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Scientifically, acupuncture treatment can deliver benefits by stimulating nerves under the skin and muscular tissues. This causes the body to produces pain-killing endorphins when inserting needles into acupuncture points. Some studies have shown that acupuncture has a regulatory effect on body functions by stimulating several areas of the brain.
Based on scientific evidence, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends acupuncture as a treatment for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension headaches and migraines.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO), state that there are over 40 different conditions and symptoms that are treated effectively by acupuncture, including rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, TMJ, headache, menstrual pain, and lower back pain.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is generally regarded as a safe treatment, however as with any medical treatment, there are certain contraindications for acupuncture treatments, including:
- Drug or alcohol intoxication
- Use of a pacemaker
- A seizure disorder
- Bleeding disorder such as hemophilia or use of blood thinners
- Infections, skin disorder or disease
- If pregnant, needling in the abdominal area or lumbosacral region should be avoided. It is also advisable to avoid any acupuncture points that might stimulate the early onset of labour. It is important to advise the therapist you are pregnant.
Acupuncture and acupressure can also be conducted by qualified acupuncture therapists who are not trained in physiotherapy, however only physiotherapists using acupuncture are recognised and regulated by the Health Council, acupuncturists who do not practice physiotherapy are largely self-regulating.
Why do so many physiotherapists use acupuncture?
Merian Denning, chair of the CSP’s Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), the society’s largest professional network explains:
‘Acupuncture is complementary to physiotherapy because it provides us with a window of opportunity,’ says Mrs Denning. ‘’It offers pain relief and relaxation, allowing the patient to exercise and restore normal function. It’s about modulating pain using needles whereas manual therapists input sensory information using their hands.’
All Physiotherapists practising acupuncture at one2one have undergone additional specialist training and are members of the AACP – Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.
To enquire about acupuncture treatments at the one2one clinic in Bridgend, please call 01656 652635