How Physiotherapy and Acupuncture Can Help for Pain Relief

Acupuncture has been used for pain relief and for various bodily ailments for over two thousand years in China. It has gained recognition in the western medicine since last 40 years.

It involves using fine needles which are inserted at various sites around the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body consists of a system of channels and collaterals. Physiologically the channels and collaterals are considered to be a series of connecting passages through which "qi" (the life energy-which can be related to "prana" in Ayurveda and Yoga) and blood circulate to regulate the functions of the organs, tissues, and senses. By stimulating a certain point or area on the body surface, the physiological functions of the channels and collaterals are aroused. This action is achieved by propagating a sensation through the channels. Thus by needling these sites, the flow of "qi" which may have been blocked is released.

How does it Acupuncture work for pain relief?

Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce a naturally occurring pain relieving chemicals known as endorphins. Needles inserted in regions of the body carry messages via nerves to the brain. The brain responds by producing endorphins. These endorphins reduce nerve sensitivity which can cause local pain and tenderness. In this way acupuncture can reduce pain.

The physiotherapists help people with pain relief using different modes of external therapies, including massage, joint and soft tissue mobilization, myo-facial release and electrotherapy such as ultrasound. They enable people to return to their function and activities of daily living by appropriate exercises and rehabilitation. Physiotherapeutic measures do not involve taking medications internally. Research shows that acupuncture can relieve pain. Thus it is natural for physiotherapists and other such professionals to explore this modality of pain relief. Since past 20 years, physiotherapists in the UK have been using Acupuncture as an adjunct to physiotherapy for pain relief. In 1997, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) formally recognized acupuncture as a mainstream medicine healing option with a statement documenting the procedure's safety and efficacy for treating a range of health conditions.

. Acupuncture is particularly effective for pain relief and for nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy. In addition, both the World Health Organization and NIH recognize that acupuncture can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for many illnesses. Acupuncture can be useful for sports injuries, sprains, strains, whiplash, neck pain, sciatica, nerve pain due to compression, overuse syndromes similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, allergies, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sore throat (called pharyngitis), high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux (felt as heartburn or indigestion), ulcers, chronic and recurrent bladder and kidney infections, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility, endometriosis, anorexia, memory problems, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, sensory disturbances, drug detoxification, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders.

Acupuncture should be given by an appropriately qualified therapist or acupuncturist. It involves inserting fine, sterile single use needles into the body. The therapist will discuss this with you and examine you beforehand. He/She will put you in a comfortable position and insert needles in specific areas. They will gently twist or twirl the needle in and you may feel nothing or a slight twitch or twinge whilst it is inserted. Once the needles are all in place you rest for 20-30 minutes. The therapist may twist and twirl the needles after 10 minutes to maintain the response. At the end of the session, the therapist will quickly and painlessly remove the needles. The number of treatments one requires depends on the nature of the condition. On an average 5-6 treatments are recommended. You may need to then follow up every 4-6 weeks.

At The Sherwood clinic you would be able to access both a TCM qualified acupuncturist as well as physiotherapists with specific training in acupuncture recognised by Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP). Most private health insurance companies recognise acupuncture as a therapy.