Western Medical Acupuncture (also known as dry needling) involves inserting fine needles into the muscles/ fascia for a therapeutic effect. Overall, it is an adaptation of the Chinese method just using modern up-to-date knowledge of anatomy and physiology. It is relatively pain free method and highly useful in treatment for soft tissue injuries.
How does it work?
The therapist will locate certain spots on the body based on muscle location and will quickly tap thin needles into the skin. The amount and length of needle is dependant on the location and individual build. Treatment usually lasts around 15-20 minutes but can vary depending on the person.
When the needle is inserted into the skin, through what is know as a ‘twitch response’ nerve fibres are stimulated sending a message to the brain via the spinal cord. This releases endorphins hormones into the body to the site of the needles insertion which are capable of blocking pain signals (think of it as the body is realising its own natural pain killer). Cortisol is also released into the bloodstream and has anti-inflammatory properties.
What does it feel like?
Acupuncture has relatively few, if any, side effects. The most common side effect from acupuncture is on fair skin there can be slight discolouration and possible bruising at the insertion site. This is temporary and not dangerous.
You may feel slight pressure when a needle goes in. Most people find that it doesn’t hurt. The area may tingle, pulse under the skin, itch, or be a little sore. Traditional Chinese acupuncturists believe that this is a sign that the energy flow, or chi, has been accessed.
After the needle is placed, your provider may roll the needle slightly back and forth to stimulate the ‘twitch response’.
What is acupuncture used for?
People use acupuncture to relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. You can use it by itself or as part of a treatment program. Studies have found promising results for the use of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy, chemotherapy, and post surgery pain. Acupuncture also may be useful for:
- Headache including chronic headaches
- Tennis/ Golfers elbow
- Myofascial pain
- Soft Tissue damage
- Knee pain
- Low/ Upper back pain