Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting very fine needles at key points (acupuncture points) into the body. There are over 500 acupuncture points on the body and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians.
Acupuncture encourages the body to release natural pain-killing substances (endorphins), thereby easing your symptoms of pain and discomfort. It is used mostly as a complementary treatment (one given alongside conventional treatments).
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines to the NHS on use of treatments and care of patients. Currently, NICE recommends that acupuncture is considered as a treatment option for persistent lower back pain.
Studies suggest that acupuncture can also help ease the symptoms of:
Bladder problems (urgency and incontinence)
Nausea (particularly chemotherapy-induced nausea)
Many people use acupuncture when they find conventional medical treatments do not work for them. Others use acupuncture alongside more conventional treatment, as a way of enhancing their existing treatment, and speeding up their recovery. It is a very safe form of treatment, which has few side effects, or complications.
Once your acupuncturist has identified which points are going to be used, a number of pre-sterilised, ultra-fine needles are placed into the points. You may feel a tingling sensation, or a dull ache when the needles are inserted. They will then be left in place for between five minutes and half an hour. You will normally need approximately six to 12 sessions of acupuncture in order to benefit fully from the treatment.
The needles are single patient use and are disposed of immediately after use.