Acupuncture is a form of complementary or alternative medicine in which fine sterile needles are inserted into specific points in the body for therapeutic purposes. It is derived from Chinese medicine but has been used in the Western world since the 19th century. In the UK it is backed by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of pain in certain conditions. Scientific evidence has shown that acupuncture can stimulate neural pathways, muscle and connective tissue and thereby decrease pain, inflammation and stiffness, as well as improve blood flow, release your body's natural painkillers (endorphins) and promote healing.
Acupuncture is used by physiotherapists with the aim of enhancing conventional physiotherapy techniques such as massage, mobilisations and exercise therapy. Typically needles are inserted for up to 20 minutes, after which other physiotherapy techniques may be used. It can take up to 3-4 sessions before the benefits of acupuncture can be assessed. It may be necessary to undergo 8-10 sessions to receive maximum benefit.
It is used to treat conditions such as neck and lower back pain, headaches, osteoarthritis, tendon conditions, shoulder pain, lateral epicondylitis, knee and ankle pain, amongst others. Serious side effects are very rare. Your therapist will ask you to complete a health questionnaire and monitor you during your treatment session.
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