Acupuncture is one of the many skills employed within physiotherapy as part of an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation. Physiotherapists combine traditional Chinese medicine principles with scientific evidence to reduce pain and promote healing. They always aim to enhance physiotherapy treatments such as, exercise and rehabilitation techniques to promote recovery and improve quality of life.
Physiotherapists base their treatments on scientific research and clinical evidence that acupuncture can reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin (which promotes sleep) and serotonin (to promote well-being), to name but a few. These chemicals assist the body’s healing processes and offer pain relief as a precursor to other treatments such as manual therapy or exercise in order to aid recovery.
There are several techniques for applying acupuncture and these are described below:
Conventional involves the use of single-use, pre-sterilised disposable needles of varying widths, lengths and materials that pierce the skin at specific points. The physiotherapist will determine the locations of these points on the basis of an assessment. A number of needles may be used during each treatment, and these are typically left in position for between 10 and 30 minutes before being removed.
Dry needling (also known as trigger point release) may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles as a means of increasing muscle length, in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation. In the latter case, the needle is inserted into the affected muscle until the tissue is felt to relax under the needle, which is then removed. Trigger point needling often produces an effect much more quickly, and therefore, does not require the 20–30 minute treatment time.
Scientific research has examined the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions. In recent years large studies have begun to emerge which have helped to support the benefits of treatment. This combined with physiotherapy is widely accepted within both the National Health Service (NHS) and private practice. This is evident in the recommendation by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that acupuncture should be available as a cost-effective short-term treatment for persistent non-specific low back pain (source: NICE 2009). More recently acupuncture has been recommended by NICE for the prophylactic treatment of tension-type headaches (source: NICE 2012).
We are members of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists:
- You are assured of safe and effective treatment with a member of AACP (Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists).
- Chartered physiotherapists are bound by a strict professional and ethical code. The AACP requires its members to undergo a minimum of 80 hours of acupuncture training and has an additional strict code of practice.
- All members of AACP have to give evidence of 10 hours continuing professional development (CPD) every 2 years in order to maintain their membership status and remain on the register.
- The supervision of the education register enables AACP, together with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), to maintain the necessary high standards of practice.
- All AACP members are covered by comprehensive professional liability insurance.
For further information regards AACP and acupuncture as a treatment method please use the links below: