Traditional Chinese Medicine and Medical Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including low back pain, as recognised by the UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence. Acupuncture probably originated in China, where it is used as one of a range of treatments provided within Traditional Chinese Medicine (often called TCM). Although TCM is taught in medical schools in China, TCM doctors have a very different way of looking at how the human body works. The TCM idea of disease and symptoms is hard to reconcile with western science.
We are trained by the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS), training that is only available to registered health care practitioners, and practise medical acupuncture. The BMAS was formed in 1980 as an association of medical practitioners interested in acupuncture. It is now a nationwide group of over 2700 registered doctors and allied health professionals who practise acupuncture alongside more conventional techniques. BMAS runs training programmes in the UK for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals.
The Medical Acupuncture approach is grounded in western medicine, and is based on anatomy and physiology both for diagnosis and treatment. It is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine.
How does acupuncture work?
The use of needles is painless, and causes local muscle relaxation in areas of dysfunctional tissue. It also stimulates blood flow and reduces sensitivity to pain. In this way acupuncture can provide significant symptom relief at the first treatment and can often do so without the soreness that may accompany soft tissue techniques. Indeed for acute conditions where movement is painful for a patient, acupuncture provides a careful and non-invasive approach to treatment.
We use acupuncture as an adjunct to our osteopathic skills. Where we feel acupuncture would be appropriate, we discuss it with you to obtain informed consent – the choice is always yours. We find that acupuncture is useful to effect muscle relaxation, and can often do so without the soreness that may accompany soft tissue techniques. Typically we use four or more sterile ultra-fine needles, and we may leave them in the body for about five minutes.
Once removed, we may then use other manual techniques to encourage the tissue changes desired. Patients generally find that treatment is both comfortable and relaxing.