Acupuncture

A modern adaptation of the more traditional Chinese acupuncture.

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Medical acupuncture, which is sometimes referred to as ‘dry needling’, is a modern adaptation of the more traditional Chinese acupuncture.

This variation has been formed using current knowledge of physiology, pathology and the principles of evidence-based medicine. It is commonly used by osteopaths and health practitioners, but only by those who have undertaken post-graduate acupuncture training.

The treatment involves the precise insertion of fine sterilised acupuncture needles into myofascial trigger points (small areas of tension located within the muscle belly). This creates both a local and systemic effect which promotes healing, relieves tension and provides fast-acting pain relief.

Find out more about Medical Acupuncture

How does medical acupuncture work?

The modern scientific explanation is that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system to 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 and thus – we feel less pain.

The acupuncture needles also create a localised effect by relaxing the muscle, increasing blood flow and promoting a healing response.

What can medical acupuncture be used to treat?

Medical acupuncture or dry needling can be used to treat a wide range of conditions and has been found particularly effective for the following:

  • Musculoskeletal pain, e.g. back, shoulder, neck and upper/lower extremity pain
  • Headache and migraine – especially when arising from the neck
  • Trapped nerves, muscle strains and spasms, various kinds of arthritic and rheumatic pain and generalised aches and pain
  • Sciatica without loss of muscle power or reflexes
  • Sports injuries including some tendinopathies & enthesopathies, e.g. tennis elbow and achilles tendonitis
  • Myofascial pain conditions including fibromyalgia
  • non-dental facial and TMJ pain

Is acupuncture painful? What if I don’t like needles?

It’s important to remember that your care and comfort is our main priority, so if you don’t like the idea of acupuncture, we won’t use acupuncture – it’s as simple as that.

At The Osteo Practice, we provide a wide range of treatments and interventions to relieve your symptoms – acupuncture is just one of many. We are very aware that needles can be a big concern for some of our patients, so we will always inform you of our treatment and ask for your consent before we begin.

Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine and so patients typically find that treatment is far less painful than anticipated and often don’t feel a thing. Patients will more commonly experience a dull, heavy tension or pressure building around the point of insertion – this is a good sign and means that the acupuncture is doing its job. If muscles are incredibly tight, patients may also experience twitching or discomfort, although this isn’t a bad sign, let us know and we can simply remove the needles, instantly relieving any pain.

What can cause lower back pain?

The torso and spine is a complex and remarkable mechanical assembly which consists of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, discs, a spinal cord and nerves.

Due to the important nature of the vertebral column, the body has evolved to ensure that we treat our spine with the upmost respect, and to provide a constant reminder, it has flooded the area with an array of highly pain sensitive fibres. This is why when something goes slightly out of sync, we know about it.

Fortunately this means that the level of discomfort we feel does not always appropriately mirror the level of physical damage that may have occurred.

We often hear people attribute their back pain to ‘poor posture’ or ‘flare up of an old injury’. Although this is often the case, it’s important to ask the question WHY NOW? Why has this back pain just started to become an issue again and why was it not there before?

This is the exact questions we ask ourselves at The Osteo Practice in Harpenden. In doing this, it ensures that when we combine treatment and a few lifestyle changes, we stand a great chance of minimising your appointments and keeping you pain free.

Reducing the chance of injury and minimising the forces placed on our spine can be achieved by lifting objects which do not exceed a certain weight and when doing so, in the correct form. However… we all know this, and unfortunately it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to abide by these at all times. The problem is when things do go wrong they can be incredibly painful and if the appropriate action isn’t taken, you can experience back pain and discomfort for some considerable time. In these circumstances, various structures such as ligaments, muscles, discs, nerves, bones and joints can be affected.

A thorough case history and a range of diagnostic tests allow the Osteopath the ability to decipher the exact cause of your back pain, leading to the appropriate management and plan of action.

This is often due to a ‘failure of adaptation’. We expect a great deal from our body and when we change our normal operating function, adaptations and compensations must occur in order to cope with the new demands. This doesn’t always happen quite as quickly as we’d like and along the way we can sometimes experience aches and pains as our body comes to terms with the alterations in our lifestyle.

Our job is to speed up this process of adaptation, or to use our professional osteopathic judgement to assess whether lifestyle factors need to be modified, and ultimately get you back on the road to recovery and enjoying a pain free life to do the things that you enjoy.

These are all scary terminologies which I believe are thrown around as a diagnosis far too often. Degeneration and osteoarthritis (arthritis which is due to wear and tear of a joint, not due to a systemic inflammatory or rheumatological cause) can occur in the discs and bony joints of the spine from a young age. In the majority of individuals it will remain asymptomatic throughout life, however for those who do experience symptoms, osteopathy provides a wide range of treatment styles, lifestyle advice and pain management approaches to help you tackle any discomfort, joint or back pain that you are experiencing.

Osteopaths undergo extensive training in order to determine whether your pain is mechanical in nature i.e. damage or change to tissues local to the area of discomfort, or whether your pain is secondary to an underlying systemic condition e.g. inflammatory, cardiovascular, endocrine.

During your initial appointment it is perfectly normal for your osteopath to ask a number of questions which may seem unrelated to your presentation. This is our way of assessing for red flags which could suggest your symptoms need further investigation, such as blood tests or imaging. In the event that they do, your osteopath will ask for your permission to write to your GP, or a specialist in the required field, documenting our findings to ensure that you receive the appropriate care.

Pregnancy is a unique and powerful experience. Huge physical, hormonal and emotional changes will occur over a relatively short period of time. The body must adapt to carrying up to 20kg of foetus, amniotic fluid, body fat and placenta. This can impose huge strains on both organs and muscular-skeletal tissues as both posture and directional forces of gravity change.

Following childbirth, the mother’s body has to recover from the changes made during pregnancy but also from the stresses of delivery and the demands of having a new baby. Carrying, lifting and nursing of baby in poor positions can all place large pressures on the body and can ultimately lead to back pain. Our osteopathic treatment and postural advice can help you return to normal by relieving strains from both pregnancy and labour so you can relax and enjoy your new baby.