Acupuncture forms part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This ancient system of medicine dates back as far as 1000 years BC and is based on a holistic concept of treatment which regards ill health as a manifestation of imbalance in the body’s energy. Re-establishing a correct balance is the aim of TCM. Energy is referred to as Qi, (pronounced chee) and is described in terms of Yin energy – quiet and calm and Yang energy – vigorous and exciting. They are complementary opposites and exist in a dynamic but balanced state in the healthy body. Practitioners of TCM believe that stimulating certain Acupuncture points on the body can help to restore the balance between Yin and Yang that becomes disturbed in illness.
Acupuncture Physiotherapists of the AACP do not base their treatment on TCM beliefs, but on evidence-based western medical acupuncture research. On this basis acupuncture is one of the many skills employed within physiotherapy as part of an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation.
Physiotherapists base their treatments on the scientific research and clinical evidence that Acupuncture can reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin (which promotes sleep) and serotonin (to promote well-being), to name but a few. These chemicals assist the body’s healing processes and offer pain relief as a precursor to other treatments, such as manual therapy or exercise, in order to aid recovery.
Western medical acupuncture combines scientific evidence with TCM principles as a means of reducing pain and promoting healing, always with the aim of enhancing physiotherapy treatments such as exercise and rehabilitation techniques to promote recovery and improve quality of life for the patient. The use of acupuncture in treating pain and related disorders is supported by an ever-growing body of scientific evidence. The AACP issues its members with a bi-annual, digital clinical journal which provides a catalogue of comprehensive research across a range of areas where acupuncture can be successfully implemented within physiotherapy practice.
Over decades, scientific research has examined the effectiveness of acupuncture for numerous conditions. In recent years, large-scale studies have emerged which have helped to support the benefits of acupuncture treatments, for example it is now readily accepted that acupuncture may substantially help treat tension-type headaches, osteoarthritis of the knee, lower back pain and chronic pain conditions. Acupuncture combined with physiotherapy is now widely accepted within both the National Health Service (NHS) and private practice.
AACP members are required to maintain up to date knowledge of available scientific research which is evidenced by adhering to their Continuing Professional Development obligations.