Some Questions & Answers
What is the standard treatment for my condition?
The first thing to understand is that in terms of traditional acupuncture you are unique. This is one of its underlying principles and it is for this reason there is no standard treatment. Two people with the same medical diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments.
Your treatment will be individually tailored to giving relief from the symptoms you are experiencing alongside supporting your overall health. This can include complementing medical treatments and alleviating side effects of medication.
How many treatments will I need?
Because everyone is different it can be difficult to say how many treatments you will need. For some people there may be a marked improvement after one or two treatments, for others it takes longer and with serious illness it may only be possible to relieve some of the symptoms.
Acupuncture is cumulative so an initial weekly course of 4-6 treatments is often recommended. As symptoms improve and you start to feel better treatments are needed less often and you can complete treatment. In some cases a number of monthly maintenance treatments are required after the initial weekly course. Others choose to continue with regular or occasional treatments as they feel the need.
What happens in an acupuncture treatment?
What is the theory behind acupuncture?
The basic tenant of traditional acupuncture is illness, pain or poor function occur when the body's vital energy, or qi (pronounced chee), cannot flow freely. There can be many reasons for this; emotional and physical stress, poor nutrition, infection or injury are among the most common. Some conditions are hereditary. Your treatment will always be aimed at restoring the flow of qi.
How does acupuncture work and where is the evidence?
Chinese medicine, of which acupuncture is a part, is one of the oldest forms of medicine in existence. It is the accumulated wisdom of many generations of practitioner’s who have tried and tested its ideas and practices for almost two thousand years. Before x- rays, scans and blood tests these practitioners developed a complete system of diagnosis using methodical and detailed observation of the body which continues today.
Using the concept of qi and theories of yin and yang Chinese medicine poetically explains how we are part of nature and the seasons. This is very different to the language of medical science and how it talks about the body, health and illness.
Modern science is yet to fully establish the mechanisms of how acupuncture works, however it is has made some recent discoveries which validate some of what traditional acupuncture holds to be true. For example myofascial pathways run along the meridians used by traditional acupuncturists; connections between mind and body and the impact of stress, and how the body’s cells communicate lend credibility to the concept of qi.
There is a rapidly growing modern evidence base for the efficacy of acupuncture here>
How do I find a safe acupuncturist who is right for me?
Acupuncture is not regulated in this country. Unfortunately this means anyone can buy a box of needles and call themselves an acupuncturist. Acupuncture training varies from as little as two days to a three year full time degree, there are three types you are likely to come across if you are looking:
- Traditional acupuncture
Traditional acupuncturists have done over 3,600 hours of study including Western and Chinese medical theory. This is usually in the form of a three years full time degree. Training meets World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. Traditional acupuncturists are qualified to use acupuncture to treat the widest range of conditions and each treatment is personalised to the individual health needs of the patient. Their professional body is the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).
- Medical acupuncture
Training varies from 2 days to 6 months and is practised by GP's and midwives and other medically trained people. It is used for fewer conditions than traditional acupuncture. Practitioners may be members of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) or the British Acupuncture Society (BAS).
- Dry needling
Training varies from 2 days to 6 months and is practised by physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and other manual therapists. It uses set treatment protocols for musculoskeletal problems. Practitioners may be members of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) or the British Acupuncture Society (BAS).
Sally Lancaster is a traditional acupuncturist read more>