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Treating Pain with Acupuncture? A Physio’s Perspective

Traditional Chinese Temple

What is Acupuncture?

Traditional acupuncture was invented in China and has been used to treat pain for thousands of year.  By putting needles in certain points of the body it was believed that normal flow and energy within the body could be restored. Thus removing the source of pain.  If we fast forward to the modern day, physiotherapists tend to take a different view on how this ancient art works. 

Are we really changing ones energy?

Western Acupuncture (dry needling) is applied using anatomical markers treating sensitised nerves under the skin and within muscles. When our nerves are sensitised they can send all sorts of messages, which is how our bodies interpret the world. However with persistent pain this is usually the result of an over sensitised system. The causes of this sensitivity can be numerous but stress, anxiety and depression can all wind up our nervous systems. Which is why it is possible to experience pain even without injury.

Dry needling stimulates the nerve endings and muscles which afterwards tends to help the nerves to calm down. It is felt that the release of endorphins locally rapidly de-sensitises the nerves and muscles – as the pain can change very quickly. Constant pain can be energy sapping, so by reducing pain you could argue that the ancient beliefs about restoring energy are true. 

So is dry needling right for me?

In my experience dry needling can provide short term relief for acute pain, but it is not a cure and should not be used in isolation. By understanding those other factors which sensitise your nervous system is the key. You will then be able to make those wholesale lifestyle changes to beat your pain. It is ultimately about gaining your independence to do the things that you love to do. 

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