What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional medicine, recognised by the World Health Organisation under the category of Complimentary Alternative Medicine. The treatment originated in China and involves the use of needles to treat various conditions.
The principles driving Acupuncture are that pain and illness are the body being out of balance with itself, and therefore Qi, the body’s vital energy, cannot flow freely along the body’s Meridian Network (the network along which Qi flows). There are a variety of reasons: emotional, physical, stress, etc. Acupuncturists insert ultra fine needles into specific acupoints along the body in order to restart the flow of Qi, and trigger the body’s natural healing response.
Medical (Western) acupuncture is taught as a post graduate course to physiotherapists and other health professionals as an addition to their currently established knowledge and skill base learned from their original profession. This form of acupuncture is applied within the context of a western approach. It is not designed to be a standalone discipline, but is instead more like one of a range of techniques. For example, a physician may take a seminar on massage, but as a whole will not be able to apply massage in as wide a range of situations as a fully trained masseur or masseuse.
Chinese acupuncture is a standalone discipline where a patient will be approached holistically. A holistic healthcare approach looks at the patient as a whole, instead of focusing on symptoms. We want to treat your entire body, not just the ache that you have in your back. This sort of approach has been shown to have a greater success rate for chronic conditions. Modern Chinese Acupuncture is based around both anatomical understanding and the Meridian System (a network through which Qi, or life energy, flows). Many believe that when your life force is out of balance you become ill, and acupuncture aims to fix that imbalance. This will then trigger the body’s natural healing response and will treat the underlying problem without the use of drugs, and avoiding potentially troublesome side effects.
The initial consultation
1.1 What can I expect in the initial consultation?
During your first consultation, you will be asked about your condition, your experiences with it, as well as other vital information regarding general health and your lifestyle, such as work hours, sleep pattern, diet and so on. Some of these questions may seem irrelevant to your condition, but they are vital to forming a treatment plan.
1.2 Are there any differences between western and Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) medical examinations?
In addition to many staples of western medical examination, like using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, and taking a patient’s history, we have some practices with which you may not be familiar. We specifically look at the tongue to check for any signs of meridian stagnation. Our physical examination also contains a meridian examination, where the practitioner will palpate the flow of energy along the meridian network. When we take pulses, we can also analyse the energy flowing through your body and this can be used to determine the type of problems that may or may not be present.
1.3 What can I expect after my initial consultation
Before actual treatment can begin, we need to obtain informed consent from you, the patient. So in order to do this, we will inform you of our findings, and then the intended treatment plan. Detailed in the treatment plan will be:
-Goals of the treatment plan
-Treatments and therapies used
-Anticipated timeline of recovery
After answering any queries you may have to the best of our ability, you will be asked to sign that you understand what the treatment plan is, and also that you agree to let us treat you.
Your signature does not bind you to any contract and you may refuse treatment at any given time without divulging reasons.
1.4 Is it possible to get started with treatment if the initial consultation concludes before the time is up?
Yes! There is no minimum time between examination and treatment. In fact it may be beneficial to treat immediately, depending on the circumstances. All that is required to start treatment is informed consent.
What can acupuncture treat?
There is a growing amount of clinical research showing that traditional acupuncture safely treats a wide range of common health problems. Problems which can be treated include: (Source: British Acupuncture Council website)
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Colds and flu
Eczema and Psoriasis
Gastrointestinal tract disorders
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Nausea and vomiting
What is treatment like as a patient?
Acupuncture does not feel painful at all. You may feel a slight sharp sensation as the needle pierces the skin, and in some cases there will be a dull ache within the muscles as the needle stays in the skin. It is quite possible to take a nap whilst being treated, because the treatment is quite relaxing and calming. Treatment lasts around 20-30 minutes.
Are there any side effects?
There are few adverse side effects of acupuncture, but they are very minor and usually clear up within a short time. The most commonly seen unintended consequences of treatment are some muscular soreness, pinprick bleeds, and some minor bruising. It is very rare for a needle to cause severe bleeding or to puncture important structures. Staying hydrated and resting should minimise these side effects.
If you are feeling discomfort during treatment, please do not hesitate to tell your practitioner.
Can you treat children?
Yes. Our therapies can be used for children, with some modifications to fit stages of development, physical size and potential restlessness. Our examination will also encompass varying things which may affect children more than adults.
Are there any other therapies on offer?
Though acupuncture is our main therapy, there are a variety of other therapies which work alongside. and with the same principles as acupuncture. The therapies we offer are:
-Herbal Remedies, if deemed neccessary
Tui na is a form of massage which opens up meridian channels in a way similar to acupuncture, breaks down scar tissue to speed up the healing process, and increase blood flow to a damaged area.
Acupressure is therapy where pressure is placed on acupoints, and works to free up meridians. It is often described as acupuncture without needles.
Cupping Therapy is a form of therapy where bulb shaped glass jars are heated to create an area of low pressure, and are then applied to an area of smooth soft tissue to relieve congested blood flow.
Moxibustion is the application of heat to acupuncture points in order to open up meridian channels. Though there are many ways to practice moxibustion, the most well known being the use of lighted Moxa sticks. We use a Micro Element Heater to radiate heat towards the patient’s skin for both convenience and control.
Herbal Remedies are medicines made from traditional Chinese herbs, which we will mix and prescribe to you with instructions, should the need arise. We use mostly pre-powdered ingredients to facilitate precise dosage and preparations that are easy for patients to take.