What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the process where fine needles are inserted through the skin and left in position briefly. The number of needles varies depending on the condition and the aim of treatment.
Acupuncture can be subdivided into traditional acupuncture and medical acupuncture/dry needling. With traditional acupuncture, the needles are inserted along different ‘energy’ pathways in the body, known as meridians. Alternatively, with medical acupuncture/dry needling, needles are inserted at distinct anatomical sites to create an effect locally, and also centrally, to cause a pain-relieving affect.
At Bodymotion, our therapists have received post graduate training in medical acupuncture. We therefore utilise this technique as part of a package of care for patients. The treatment itself is relatively painless, with most patients reporting that they do not feel anything. Others report an aching sensation of varying degrees of intensity. This technique is not for everyone and if you do not like needles, then this treatment option will not be used.
We know that Acupuncture increases the body’s release of natural painkillers, endorphin and serotonin, in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received (The British Medical Acupuncture Society). Therefore, this therapy is very useful in helping to alleviate the pain in neuro-musculoskeletal injuries.
What to Expect at Your First Acupuncture Consultation
What Should I Wear?
During your first visit, you will be required to wear a gown (in order for the therapist to perform a full examination). Alternatively, please feel free to bring along some shorts and a t-shirt. On the subsequent visits, loose fitting clothes are recommended.
What Happens at My First Consultation?
The first consultation takes approximately 45 minutes. It is during this consultation that information is obtained regarding your complaint so that the best treatment options are considered. If it is felt that medical acupuncture may be beneficial, this will be discussed in the Report of Findings given prior to the initiation of treatment.
The first consultation can be subdivided into four parts:
Information is taken relevant to your injury, i.e. site of discomfort and aggravating and relieving factors. Your previous medical history will also be covered.
Orthopaedic and Neurological Examination
This is an assessment of the positions which aggravate your complaint, including range of movement, palpation, muscle tests and provocative manoeuvres. This will highlight the severity of the complaint and the structures involved.
A neurological examination includes an assessment of the function of the nerves in the spine or extremities (arms and legs) which will deduce the area of possible neural involvement.
These are very rarely necessary, but may be required to help rule out or confirm certain diagnoses, such as fractures. Furthermore, observing the spine in a weight-bearing posture provides us with information regarding any areas of the spine that are under stress on a day-to-day basis. The degree of degeneration can also be ascertained.
There are no x-ray facilities on site, so patients are referred to a local radiography clinic.
Additional soft tissue imaging may also be used by our City of London physiotherapists to gain further information about a patient’s complaint. Where necessary, patients can be referred to Vista Diagnostics.
Upon completion of the examination, the diagnosis and a plan of management will be explained by your chiropractor or physiotherapist. The patient will then be asked to consent to treatment and treatment can then be initiated.
A treatment plan will be laid out from acute care through to rehabilitation and maintenance along with a timeframe for recovery. Once the chiropractor or physiotherapist is confident the patient has a full understanding of their condition, treatment will be given. You will usually receive treatment at the first consultation. An array of techniques may be used, including acupuncture/dry needling, mobilisation, manipulation, soft tissue work, stretching, ultrasound and exercises (possibly including Pilates).
If it is felt that treatment is not appropriate or further investigations are required, patients are referred onto the relevant healthcare professional.
At Bodymotion, we use acupuncture as part of a package of care in the treatment of injuries. All needles are bought sterile and vacuum-packed individually and are hygienically disposed of once used.
There are some contraindications to the use of acupuncture, namely:
• Broken, inflamed or infected skin.
• Allergy to metal.
• Unstable diabetes.
• Unstable epilepsy.
• Unexplained seizures.
• Unstable, acute cardiac arrhythmias.
• Sepsis or overwhelming inflammation.
• Bleeding disorders.
• Malignancy at insertion sites.
• Haemophilia and other clotting disorders.
• Low blood pressure.
• Flu-like symptoms.
• Feeling lightheaded.
• Residual muscle aching.
• Potential light bruising.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2009, Low back pain: Early management of persistent non-specific low back pain. www.nice.org.uk
Western medical acupuncture: a definition. Acupuncture Med 2009; 27(1):33–35
British Acupuncture Council, Research; www.acupuncture.org.uk,
British Acupuncture Council, Arthritis and acupuncture: the evidence for effectiveness; http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/arrc/public-review-papers/arthritis-and-acupuncture-the-evidence-for-effectiveness.html
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Manheimer E, Cheng K, Linde K, et al. Acupuncture for peripheral joint osteoarthritis.. 2010, Issue 1. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001977.pub2
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. 2009, Issue 1. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007587