What is Western Medical Acupuncture?

Western medical acupuncture is a therapy involving the insertion of fine needles.

It is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine.

While Western medical acupuncture has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, its practitioners no longer adhere to concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of qi, and regard acupuncture as part of conventional medicine rather than a complete “alternative medical system”.

It acts mainly by stimulating the nervous system and it is often used to treat musculoskeletal pain and muscle tension, including myofascial trigger point pain. It is also effective for postoperative pain and nausea.

Acupuncture is essentially painless. Although some people may experience a slight pinch as the needle is inserted, many feel nothing at all. Once inserted, the needles remain in place for no longer than 1-2minutes. Because modern acupuncture needles are disposable and used only once, there is no risk of transmitting infections from one person to another.

I believe that this form of acupuncture is a useful treatment tool that, where appropriate, I often incorporate into my general treatment methods, but only if the patient is comfortable to do so.

The 2009 NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) Guidelines for effective treatment of low back pain included acupuncture alongside manual therapy (including spinal manipulation from osteopaths) and structured exercise in the recommendations.