What's the difference between western and traditional Chinese acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a popular style of treatment that can be used to help a variety of health problems including back pain, headaches and migraines. However, did you know there are 2 very different styles of acupuncture?

Acupuncture's roots lie deep in Chinese history, with the first written text reported to date back to between the first century BC and the first century AD. Thankfully, it's moved on a long way from those eras where they used sharpened bones as needles! Traditional acupuncture follows the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, whereby it believes that blockages in specific flows of energy through the body, or meridians, can cause dis-ease. By needling certain points, the blockages are encouraged to clear, helping to improve health and wellbeing.

Medical acupuncture, sometimes known as western acupuncture or dry needling, is a whole different style of treatment. The medical model uses anatomy, physiology and current medical models to create a diagnosis for your condition, and uses needles to stimulate the nervous system, creating an active response and altering nerve activity. Research has shown that acupuncture stimulates the release of pain killing chemicals in your body, along with other hormones, which promote healing and aid recovery. Unlike traditional acupuncture, the medical version pays less attention to choosing one point over another but focuses more on the area of pain or injury. It can be exceptionally useful for painful conditions such as back pain and arthritic pain.

But I don't like needles…

This is something we hear commonly, and it's absolutely fine, but unlike the needles you'll be used to from the doctors for injections and blood tests, acupuncture needles are totally different! The needles used for an injection are hollow, because they either need to inject something into the body or allow fluids such as blood to leave the body. Acupuncture needles are solid and extremely thin, around 0.18mm thick, and therefore most people don't even feel them go in. When they're in place, sometimes you may feel a warm, heavy sensation around the area, but this is not unpleasant. Nene Valley Osteopathy only use single use, individually wrapped, sterile needles that are disposed of correctly immediately after use.

Are there any side effects?

Thankfully, most people are absolutely fine after acupuncture, but sometimes mild side effects such as bruising, mild bleeding and short-term pain at the needle site can be experienced. Some people feel dizzy or faint during or after treatment, and the pain of your condition may temporarily feel worse after treatment, but we will always give you advice on how to cope with this. It's worth noting that there are some people who acupuncture isn't suitable for, such as those on blood thinners or who have a clotting disorder; people who have replacement heart valves or cardiac implants. This list isn't exhaustive but do talk to your therapist if you're unsure.

If you're interested in how medical acupuncture can help to relieve your pain, please do get in touch! 

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