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.
AACP members combine scientific evidence with TCM principles as a means of reducing pain and promoting healing, always with the aim of always enhancing physiotherapy treatments, such as exercise and rehabilitation techniques, to promote recovery and improve quality of life. The use of acupuncture for the treatment of pain is supported by an ever-growing body of scientific evidence.
Scientific research has examined the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions. In recent years, large-scale studies have emerged which have helped to support the benefits of acupuncture treatment. For example it is accepted that acupuncture can help tension-type headaches and osteoarthritis of the knee, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments such as physiotherapy.
Acupuncture combined with physiotherapy is widely accepted within both the National Health Service (NHS) and private practice. This is evident in the recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that acupuncture should be available as a cost-effective short-term treatment for persistent non-specific low back pain (source: NICE 2009 - SIGN (Scotland) 2013).
AACP members are required to keep abreast of scientific evidence and do so by meeting their Continuing Professional Development obligations.