If you are considering having acupuncture, it is worth understanding exactly what you would be getting from different healthcare practitioners. By being aware of the differences between treatments you can make the right choice for you.
Although all acupuncture originated in the East, it is not always practise in the West using the traditional methods. Believed to date back over 3,000 years, acupuncture was historically used to treat a wide range of conditions and diseases and this is still the case if you visit a Chinese Medicine acupuncturist today. However other practitioners such as physiotherapists and osteopaths have recognised acupuncture’s benefits in treating muscular pain and skeletal issues and have trained to use needles to treat those conditions. This is often referred to as “dry needling” or medical acupuncture to distinguish it from traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture.
Since the 1970’s, acupuncture has become more popular in western countries due to increasing evidence based research confirming its benefits and therefore dry needling has also been offered by some GPs and hospitals to treat pain conditions for many years.
While GPs, Physiotherapist and Osteopaths have generally trained to provide dry needling treatment for specific issues, a Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist has trained over a number of years to provide a much broader variety of acupuncture treatments. This enables Chinese Medicine Acupuncturists to offer the same acupuncture as other healthcare practitioners, but also to treat many other conditions. The World Health Organisation has a list of conditions that may be treated by Chinese Medicine acupuncture, www.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/s4926e/s4926e.pdf.
Additionally, compared to dry needling, Chinese medicine acupuncture is a holistic treatment that takes into consideration all aspects of a person’s health. Emotional stress is known to contribute to the development of diseases, raising stress hormones that lower immune functions, therefore potentially leading to disease; According to traditional Chinese texts, one can regulate the emotions and reduce their adverse impacts on health by following basic advice such as doing exercise, practicing temperance, keeping a regular schedule, whilst also pursuing mind-calming activities.
Following this tradition, Chinese Medicine acupuncture treats patients on an emotional as well as physical level, reducing symptoms of stress and so increasing health. By helping to maintain the body’s physical and emotional balance it optimises its ability to heal itself and nowadays many people find that as well as improving presenting symptoms, acupuncture gives them a general sense of well-being, so once started they continue to have regular treatments.