Acupuncture is an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China, that involves manipulating very fine, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. Of these disposable needles, some are so fine that 10 of them can fit into the width of a normal syringe.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of Qi through channels known as meridians.
ACUPUNCTURE Versus DRY NEEDLING
Many of the acupuncture points have been called “trigger points” by physiotherapists and other body workers. During the last few years, practitioners not trained in Chinese medicine have begun using acupuncture needles on patients, calling it “Dry Needling”. Practitioners who use Dry Needling are not acupuncturists and are not required to meet the regulatory standards set out by the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (http://www.chinesemedicineboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines.aspx). Investigations have begun into adverse events resulting from Dry Needling, however there is still much research left to do (Halle & Halle, 2016).
From the perspective of a trained acupuncturist, Dry Needling is a more painful technique, as these points are stimulated till the muscle twitches in response, a practice used infrequently in traditional acupuncture.
Acupuncture is generally a very gentle therapy that is carefully adapted by the practitioner to suit individual patients’ sensitivities and needs and can be a relaxing experience.
According to the large body of historical data collected by traditional Chinese physicians over thousands of years, Acupuncture is believed to provide pain relief, strengthen internal organ function, improve immunity and support the body’s natural healing ability, among many other functions (Macciocia, 2015). Randomized controlled trials have recently been done on acupuncture in the emergency wards of 4 Melbourne hospitals, and have shown that it may provide some pain relief (Cohen et al., 2017). The long term use of opioids is now being questioned for their efficacy, so it is very important to find other ways to assist with both acute and chronic pain conditions. There is a growing body of evidence supporting acupuncture’s efficacy for a variety of conditions (McDonald & Janz, 2017).
Take a look at the chart below (Fig 1) showing the evidence table supporting acupuncture’s role in assisting with various conditions:
This current research shows how acupuncture has a positive result on pain relief: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK409491/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK409491.pdf
A summary of the findings is here: https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/portal/article/4000672/acupuncture-shown-to-have-benefits-for-treatment-of-some-chronic-pain?utm_content=buffered7fb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
There is minimal sensation sometimes, no more than a mosquito bite or the pressure of a fingernail on the skin as they are very thin. Usually the pressure of the guiding tube is felt more than the needle insertion. A quick feeling can be detected when the Qi is activated, which fades and may leave a lovely tingle while the needles are working.
Cohen, M. M., Smit, D. V., Andrianopoulos, N., Ben-Meir, M., Taylor, D. M., Parker, S. J., . . . Cameron, P. A. (2017). Acupuncture for analgesia in the emergency department: a multicentre, randomised, equivalence and non-inferiority trial. The Medical Journal of Australia, 206(11), 494-499.
Halle, J. S., & Halle, R. J. (2016). PERTINENT DRY NEEDLING CONSIDERATIONS FOR MINIMIZING ADVERSE EFFECTS – PART ONE. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 11(4), 651-662.
Maciocia, G. (2015). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine E-Book: A Comprehensive Text: Elsevier Health Sciences.
McDonald, J., & Janz, S. (2017). The Acupuncture Evidence Project.