Acupuncture raises many a quizzical brow for those not yet acquainted with the practice. Indeed, many people are often unaware whether they have received “acupuncture” – many physios/chiros/osteos/therapists don’t practice acupuncture but instead are “dry needlers”. This is not the same.
Dry needling is part of acupuncture and works on a similar principle to trigger pointing; find a tight muscle, stick a needle in and it will relax. The training is about 2 days long and is automatically included in the training of chiropractors and osteopaths.
At the other end of the scale is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture – this is for proponents of all elements of this mystic and ancient art. The practitioners have studied for at least 3 years but normally 5 or more and are knowledgeable in all medical matters but also things like spirituality and healing. These guys are good, very good especially if you buy into all they have to offer.
I am a Western Medical Acupuncturist (WMA) – many physiotherapists are. The training is equally as rigorous as TCM but not as long (normally about 6 months to 2 years) as we already know a lot of relevant stuff; anatomy, pathology, injury etc. However we use the same points as in TCM and often use similar principles to TCM, where relevant but most of the time we just treat to minimise pain; either of the injury of of the treatment. I also treat insomnia, anxiety and occasionally gastro-intestinal and breathing issues.
To be an WMA practitioner you must be registered with the relevant medical body (in our case we have two: HCPC and CSP), have relevant acupuncture accreditation (AACP – there are others) and you must also be registered with the local council to perform acupuncture. As well as this, clinics must also be registered with the local council.
But what is it WMA? It is the insertion of needles to alleviate pain. Chemicals are released that help muscles relax, block neurotransmitters from sending pain signals to the brain and that release endorphins to give you an overall sense of well-being.
It works really well and importantly it doesn’t hurt.
Here is a recent patient who kindly agreed to allow their photo to be shared. The needles are on the Bladder and Gall Bladder meridian; specifically BL 30, 36 & GB 30.
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