It is a good idea to make sure you have something to eat 1-2 hours before your treatment. This will help reduce the risk of you feeling faint during your session by keeping your sugar levels up.
When you first see your physiotherapist, he or she will take your full medical history and ask you about your current health problems. You may be asked to complete a ‘consent to treatment’ form.
Between 1 to 10 needles may be used at a time at an acupuncture session. The number of needles used will vary according to your condition and symptoms.
The needles are inserted through the skin either at the sites where you feel pain, away from the pain or a combination of both. The needles are usually left in for a few minutes up to 30 minutes. During the treatment, your physiotherapist may stimulate the needles by gently rotating them. This is done to increase the treatment’s effectiveness.
The needles are removed at the end of the session. You will then be asked to rest for a few minutes before you leave.
Medical Acupuncture is one of the many skills employed by AACP physiotherapists as part of an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation. Scientific research and clinical evidence have shown 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.
The overall number of treatment sessions required will depend on you, your condition and your physiotherapist’s assessment. Most patients receive a course of 4-6 treatments although just one or two treatments may be enough. Sometimes 1 or 2 ‘top up’ treatments are required. Treatments are normally given at 1-2 weekly intervals. It is generally clear after a few sessions whether or not acupuncture will benefit you and if the treatment should be continued.
There are certain health conditions that may stop you receiving acupuncture or mean that the treatment should be used with caution. It is important to let your physiotherapist know:
• If you have ever experienced a fit, seizure, faint 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 medication;
• If you have damage to heart valves, or have any risk of active infections;
• If you are pregnant or trying to conceive;
• If you have a known metal allergy – specifically to stainless steel;
• If you have a needle phobia;
• If you have a known infection or poor skin condition in the area to be treated;
• If you have a deficient or weakened immune system;
• If you have diabetes;
• If you have low blood pressure;
• If you have been prescribed any medicine;
• If you have cold/flu symptoms or feel generally unwell.
The effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative: different people respond in different ways and at different rates. Some people may feel an immediate relief of their symptoms whilst others may only see a gradual improvement after a few treatments. Some people may find that their condition/symptoms flare up for up to 24 hours after the treatment but then see a marked improvement.
Although acupuncture can help reduce pain, particularly when other more conventional treatments have failed, it does not work for everyone.