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Acupuncture & Dry Needling

Acupuncture has been commonly practised as part of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2500 years, but it is only in the last 40 years that its introduction and popularity have grown in western medicine. Chinese medicine is based on the idea that channels of energy, called Qi (pronounced Chi), flow around the body and that good health is reliant on a steady, strong flow of this energy. When we are ill or injured this energy flow is disrupted, but through the use of acupuncture the balance of energy can be restored. Therapists use fine metal needles which are inserted at specific points to promote and restore the flow of Qi. Which helps relieve symptoms and promote healing.

A number of clinical studies have been conducted to assess how acupuncture works, however it is not yet fully understood. Research has shown that beyond the psychological effects of treatment, that there are also physiological changes occurring too. The insertion of the needles triggers the release of opioid peptides generating an analgesic effect. Other chemical neurotransmitters at the site of needle insertion stimulate increased blood flow or an increased immune response. Good quality research is still ongoing to gain a better understanding of how it works, but it is already accepted that for some people acupuncture has proven very effective as a complimentary therapy.

It is important to note that the beneficial effects of acupuncture vary with each person, but most experience some pain relief. Conditions commonly treated include;

  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Muscle & Joint conditions
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic or acute injuries

Dry Needling was developed within western medicine and is based on current medical research of neuroanatomy. Its basic principles and philosophy are different from the traditional Chinese medicine and the idea of manipulating flows of Qi energy around the body. Dry Needling uses different needle insertion points and is solely focused on triggering the body’s physiological response. Although both practices use the same fine, solid needles in their treatment. The technique is called dry needling as there is no fluid being injected from the needle, instead it is the presence of the needle itself that generates the therapeutic effect.

When you suffer a muscular injury the affected tissue often goes into contracture to protect itself from further injury. This can be painful and restrict movement, with the contracted tissue also inhibiting the flow of nourishing blood to the injury and the flushing out of waste products. Dry Needling seeks to address all these issues. Needle insertion at the affected site stimulates nerves to release analgesic opioids that reduce pain. The needle passes through muscle tissue causing tiny amounts of damage, just enough to trigger a small inflammation response that increases blood flow and stimulates the immune system.

Unlike Acupuncture, Dry Needling focuses on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and some neuropathies. As before the effectiveness varies between clients, but Dry Needling is used to treat;

  • Various types of Tendinosis or Tendonitis
  • Muscle strains or sprains
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Plantar fasciitis

Whichever therapeutic approach you prefer, be it Acupuncture of Dry Needling, there is benefit to treatment. Needle insertion doesn’t hurt as they are very fine, although some people do report feeling tingling and subsequent aching. This is a normal reaction to the chemical changes and uncramping of the muscle tissue.

If you would like more information on how osteopathy or physiotherapy can help treat you, or want to book an appointment, please email info@nickcastle.co.uk. or phone us on 0207 394 0799.

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