Medical acupuncture is the insertion of needles into tissues to affect muscle, tendon, bone, capsule or neurological structures. When a needle is inserted into the skin, tiny mechanoreceptors or pressure receptors within the tissue are “activated”, stimulating nerves and causing a chain reaction of biochemical events, which may include the release of inflammatory modulators or neurohormones which work directly on pain.
Medical acupuncture is derived from traditional Chinese practices that originated 4000 years ago, however, the placement of the needles and the resultant effects are grounded in modern anatomical and physiological theory as accepted in Western medical science.
How does acupuncture work?
I am frequently asked and have even posed the question myself, “How does inserting fine needles into tissue help my injury?” Physiotherapists and patients themselves have all struggled conceptually with the idea that inserting fine needles into tissue can have a useful effect.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
The improved biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, promoting healing of muscles, tendon and joint injuries.
There is now an abundance of scientific data to support the utility for a number of conditions. Acupuncture has been subjected to rigorous clinical testing analogous to the testing that is completed to substantiate the use of drugs for numerous conditions. At this point we can state, unequivocally that medical acupuncture is effective for the following conditions:
- Tennis elbow/tendonitis
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
- Facial pain (including TMJ/Temporomandibular Pain/Jaw Pain)
- Knee pain, including pain due to Osteoarthritis
- Low back pain
- Neck pain
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction
- Postoperative pain
- Sciatica/Radiating pain emerging from the low back