What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes. It is often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although it is used in many NHS and priavte practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK. The theory behind medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture after a proper medical diagnosis. It is based on scientific evidence that shows the treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue. This results in the body producing pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins. It is likely these substances are responsible for any beneficial effects seen with this form of acupuncture.

What can it treat? Acupuncture practitioners use acupuncture to treat a range of health conditions such as headaches, back pain,muscle strains, asthma and infertility. Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraines and make these recommendations on the basis of scientific evidence.

What happens when you have acupuncture? When it is carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally very safe. Some people experience side effects such as feeling drowsy or dizzy, but these are usually mild and short-lived. After taking an appropriate medical history, the acupuncture practitioner will begin the insertion of the acupuncture needles. These needles are inserted into specific places on the body, which practitioners call acupuncture points. The needles may be inserted just under the skin, or deeper so they reach muscle tissue. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for a length of time lasting from a few minutes up to around 30 minutes. You may feel a tingling or a dull ache when the needles are inserted. You should not experience any significant pain. If you do, let your practitioner know straight away. The number of sessions required will depend entirely on the individual patient and the condition.

For more information please visit BMAS http://www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk/

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