Acupuncture is an ancient traditional medical treatment. There are historic pictures and a bronze statue from 960-1279AD, that were made with all the points marked and these are still used by acupuncture students today. The word acupuncture is taken from the latin word ‘Acus’ which means the puncturing of the body tissue for pain relief.
There are 12 medians (lines through the body) where the points are located. Needles are then inserted in the relating points depending on the ailment. The needles come in different lengths and diameters but they will be selected by the therapist depending on the area being treated.
The needles are very fine so the pain when inserting the needles should be minimal but it is felt more when inserted in bony areas such as the wrist and foot compared to areas with more flesh such as the gluteals or back. Due to the use of such fine needles there is usually no bleeding when the needles are removed but it can happen and it is just a small drop, less than the finger test when giving blood.
The mechanism of how acupuncture works is vague and still under investigation but it is thought to be explained by the pain gate theory where stimulation from one part of the body can block pain signals from other parts. Acupuncture also causes the release of endorphins from the pituitary glands and other organs which can block the pain pathways from signals.
Unlike acupuncture there are no meridians and the points where the needles are placed is more down to where active trigger points are along a taut band of muscle. The mechanisms of how it works is similar to acupuncture, it also increases blood flow to the area and therefore the increase in oxygenated blood and nutrients then causes a relaxation of the muscle. Studies have been completed into the effectiveness of dry needling with local anaesthetic injections and found it to be just as effective. In the news last year, GPs can refer people to have acupuncture or dry needling for pain relief.
The needles are inserted perpendicular into the trigger point or taut band. There is an increase in resistance for the needle at this site, if there is not then the needle probably needs to be repositioned. Instead of inserting the needle and leaving it to sit still in the tissue, in dry needling the needle is inserted further after a few minutes or inserted and removed straight away and then repeated (threading).
The patient will feel an acute pain after the needle has been tapped and it is being inserted further, this pain only lasts for a few seconds but can also cause referred pain around the site of the needle and along the muscle. A twitch response often occurs when the trigger point is found and can be seen as the needle will twitch. The needle will be initially grasped by the muscle but a gradual relaxation will follow and a lengthening of the muscle, it is therefore important that once the needles are all removed the muscles are stretched to maintain the increase in muscle length.
Dry needling and acupuncture can be very effective, with the correct method of inserting the needles and care taken by the therapist such as single use needles, cleaning the skin and their hands. It can be used not only to relieve pain but to help reduce swelling and as mentioned relieve pain from trigger points.
Fore more information or to book an appointment then please do not hesitate to contact me HERE.