What happens when I see my physiotherapist for acupuncture?

Firstly, it's advisable to have something to eat 1-2 hours before your treatment. This minimises the very small risk of feeling faint during your treatment. 

During your initial consultation, your clinician will discuss and document with your consent, your medical history and current health challenges. Your clinician will also talk you through the process and what to expect from your treatment. Some patients worry acupuncture will be painful but contrary to this belief, it is virtually pain free. Acupuncture needles are hair thin, very different from the traditional needles at the doctors office. 

Genrally, only a small number of needles will be used during your first treatment. Additional needles may be implemented as your treatments progress at the discretion of your clinician and in accordance to your symptoms. 

Each needle is inserted into the skin at various points on the body, this may be at the specific site where you feel pain, or a more distal point which has beneficial effects. Generally a combination of both will be included. Each treatment lasts approximately 20-30 minutes, however your clinician will advice the optimal duration for your individual complaint. During the treatment, your physician may stimulate the needles by gently turning or tappping the needles. This process is carried out to stimulate the site where the needles are inserted and promote the effectiveness of the treatment. 

At the end of the treatment, the needles are removed and disposed of appropriately. You will then be free to go about the rest of your day as you wish. 

Lastly, it's always a good idea to drink plenty of water as this will support the treatment and ensure you remain hydrated. 

How does acupuncture work?

Medical Acupuncture is one of the many skills used by AACP physiotherapists to treat and manage pain and associated issues. Scientific research coupled with clinical evidence has shown that Acupuncture may significantly reduce pain by stimulating natural pain reducing chemicals in the brain and spinal cord, such as endorphins, melatonin and serotonin (promotes sleep and well-being) These chemicals support the body’s natural healing processes and help reduce inflammation. Acupuncture is often coupled along with other physiotherapy treatments, including manual therapy and exercise to aid faster recovery and return the body back to a state of homeostasis. 

How many sessions will I have?

The number of treatments required will largely depend on how your condition responds to treatment which will be constantly assessed by your clinician . A general guide is a course of 4-6 treatments although positive results are often experienced after just a few treatments. Maintenance treatments may occationally be recommended to reduce the risk of an injury reoccuring. Treatments are generally recommended once or twice weekly, particularlly in the acute phase which may then be reduced to weekly or fortnightly as treatment progresses. 

Can anyone have acupuncture?

There are certain health conditions that may prevent you being eligible for acupuncture treatment or you may have a particular condition that requires caution.

It is important to let your physiotherapist know if any of the following apply:

• If you have ever experienced a seizure, fainting episodes or if you have epilepsy
• If you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implant
• If you have a bleeding disorder e.g. haemophilia
• If you are taking anti-coagulants or any other medications
• If you have a heart condition, have had recent surgery or have an active infection
• If you are pregnant or trying to conceive
• If you have a known metal allergy – specifically to stainless steel or nickle
• If you have a needle phobia ir a mental health condition which may be affected by acuuncture 
• If you have a known infection or skin condition 
• If you have a deficient or weakened immune system
• If you have diabetes
• If you have high/low blood pressure
• If you are currently taking prescribed medication 
• If you have cold/flu symptoms, feel generally unwell or anything else you wish to share that you feel maybe relevant 

Acupuncture treatments are unique to your presenting symptoms. Generally chronic conditions will require more treatments than acute presentations. Your clinician will tailor each of your treatments to your current symptoms which may differ each time you visit as your condition begins to respond to treatment. Working with a patient focused approach supports the body to heal as promptly as possible.

Although acupuncture treatments are often cumulative, a number of people will experience beneficial effects from their very first treatment, however do not be deterred if you feel little to no effects immediately, people resoond at varying rates due to many other bodily factors playing a part. It also not unusual in the first 24 hours post treatment for symptoms to increase before experiencing a marked improvement.  A very small number of the population may not respond to acupuncture treatment, however this is extremely rare.