Acupuncture 1

Acupuncture & Dry Needling for Complementary Care

Acupuncture 2

Pain Relief & Stress Management

What is Acupuncture/Dry Needling?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body. It is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM). It is different from treatments that are part of conventional western medicine.

Acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or 'life force', flows through the body in channels called 'meridians'. This life force is known as Qi ('chee'). Acupuncturists believe that when Qi cannot flow freely through the body, this can cause illness and that Acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and thus restore health.

Acupuncture is often used to treat headache, lower back pain and dental pain, but is also commonly used for conditions ranging from infertility to anxiety and asthma. The availability of Acupuncture on the NHS is limited. Most Acupuncture patients pay for private treatment. 

Dry Needling is the use of thin acupuncture type needles for the treatment of muscle pain. It is sometimes known as intramuscular stimulation. Such use of a solid needle has been found to be as effective as injection of substances in such cases as relief of pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons. Analgesia produced by needling a pain spot is called the 'needle effect'. Acupuncture and dry needling techniques are similar, but their rationale and use in treatment are different.

Dry needling for treating trigger points was first introduced by Czech physician Karel Lewit in 1979. Lewit had noticed that the success of injections into trigger points in relieving pain was apparently unconnected to the analgesic used. Proper dry needling of a myofascial trigger point will elicit a local twitch response, which is an involuntary reflex in which the muscle fibers in the taut band of muscle contract. This response indicates the proper placement of the needle in a trigger point. Dry needling may work by activating endogenous opioids.

Dr Chan Gunn introduced a type of dry needling called intramuscular stimulation in the 1980s that moved away from using trigger points. Baldry developed a version called superficial dry needling in 2005, in which the needle is inserted about 5-10mm into the tissue above the trigger point.

Dry needling is a useful adjunct to treatment when the use of injection is not appropriate.