Acupuncture has been used to control pain and symptoms for hundreds of years, and we’re pleased to be able to offer this service at Olton Health and Performance with our acupuncturist Kruti Kulkarni. Below are some common questions about acupuncture – please get in touch if you have a question not answered below.
Please also read our Acupuncture aftercare advice here before attending a session, so that you know what steps to take to get maximum benefit from your time with us. Kruti will also go through this at the time of your appointment.
What is acupuncture?
Western medical acupuncture (also known as ‘dry needling’) can be used to relieve muscle tension and tenderness or reducing muscle spasm. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese theories to obtain a balance of energy within a body which may be ridden with disease or pain, by inserting fine needles into specific points (known as ‘acupoints’) to elicit a therapeutic effect. Studies in Western medicine have suggested that acupuncture can be effective in the management of various joint and muscle pains, as well as migraines.
How does acupuncture work?
Inserting acupuncture needles into soft tissue stimulates the nerve endings, sending signals to the brain. This promotes the release of specific hormones and chemicals in the brain and into the bloodstream, which can lead to a positive effect on the pain levels and inflammation.
When is acupuncture the right treatment?
In physiotherapy, acupuncture is used to aid with relieving tension and pain in the muscles. It is found to be most beneficial when used in a combination with other treatments such as exercise.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment when being carried out by a qualified health professional using sterile, single-use disposable needles. Any medical intervention can have unwanted side effects, but serious side effects from acupuncture are rare at about 1 in 10,000 treatments.
When is acupuncture not appropriate?
Acupuncture is not recommended if any of the following applies to you:
- Metal allergy / phobia of needles
- Poorly controlled epilepsy or diabetes
- Pregnant people/actively trying to get pregnant (although acupuncture during pregnancy can be safe, we do not currently offer acupuncture to pregnant people)
Precautions should be taken before administering acupuncture in the presence of the following conditions:
- High or low blood pressure
- Extreme fatigue
- Not having eaten within the last 4 hours
- Skin conditions in the area of needling
- Infectious diseases
- Heart conditions/ pace maker
- Bleeding disorders
- Prone to fainting
- Strong previous reaction to acupuncture
- Previous malignancy
How does it feel?
There may be an initial pricking sensation as the needle is inserted. Discomfort or an ache or a spasm can be experienced when inserting the needling into a tight muscle. During the treatment, you may experience various sensations of dullness, heaviness and aching in areas of the inserted needle. You will feel this more in the more sensitive areas of your hands and feet. This feeling is the desired effect of the treatment, however it should not be an unpleasant feeling.
Following the treatment, most people feel perfectly fine. Occasionally patients may feel sleepy or drowsy after the treatment; this should not be of concern. If you are prone to feeling drowsy, please bring a friend or a relative to drive you home from the clinic or you can wait in the clinic until the drowsiness subsides.
Are there any side effects?
Minor side effects from the treatment may include:
- Pain with needling
- Short term increase in pain post-treatment
Major side effects are rare (~1 in 10,000 treatments) and may include:
- Injury to nerves or blood vessels
- Infection from needling
- Premature onset of labour if used during pregnancy
- Damage to an internal organ such as the lung
What will happen during the treatment?
Your clinician will carry out an assessment and they will run through the contraindications precautions with you to ensure you are suitable to receive the treatment. You will have the opportunity to review the pre-treatment information if you have not done so prior to treatment commencing. You will be asked to provide a verbal consent to continue with the treatment. Your clinician may decide not to needle during this initial contact. This will allow you further time to consider if you wish to proceed with the treatment.
To begin the treatment, your clinician will ask you to assume a comfortable position – sitting upright or lying on your front or back. Ensure you are in a comfortable position as you may be in this position for up to 25-30 mins. Initial treatment will usually be shorter (10-15 mins of treatment) to ensure you tolerate the treatment well. Needles will be then inserted in the appropriate locations and they will be then removed after the desired period of time.
What are the needles like?
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine, sterile, single-use and disposable. The length of the needle varies depending on the point being needled. For example, very small needles will be used for jaw pain, however, very long needles will be used for the buttocks for any hip pain.
How should I prepare for a treatment?
- Read the information above so you are familiar with the treatment process.
- Dress appropriately. Bring/wear shorts/vest-tops if applicable and/or ensure your hair can be tied up if it is long.
- Ask any questions that you have regarding the treatment.
- Important: Ensure you have had a substantial meal 2 hours prior to the treatment.