Acupuncture and Dry Needling

What is Acupuncture or Dry Needling?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest recorded forms of medicine having been used for over 3,000 years in China. Acupuncture involves the insertion of a very fine ‘needles’ into very specific areas of the body (it’s actually a pin, as it doesn’t have a hollow centre). There are several theories as to how the effects are produced. The important thing is that scientific trials have proven be acupuncture treatment to be effective and with side effects being very rare… there is not many medications that can claim that!

There are 3 methods of practicing Acupuncture:

  • Traditional Chinese’ acupuncture Utilises a Chinese medicine assessment and diagnosis.
  • Western’ acupuncture (or clinical acupuncture)  utilises a ‘Western’ Medicine assessment and diagnosis, with particular consideration of anatomy and neurophysiology.
  • Dry needling (or Trigger point needling) to effect altered or dysfunctional muscles and tissues to restore normal function.  The stimulation of painfully hypersensitive nerve endings with a fine needle, reduces the irritability of the nerve ending thereby reducing the strength of the pain message

How is Acupuncture Used at Wauchope Physiotherapy?

Lets face it… conventional therapy doesn’t always hold all of the answers. Physiotherapists have an intimate knowledge of human anatomy and neurophysiology and is already trained to provide many other forms of pain relief. At Wauchope Physiotherapy, Acupuncture is rarely used in isolation. Instead, we use Acupuncture as just one ‘tool’ in combination with our range of other treatment techniques (like manual therapy, exercise or activity modification) to best help your problem. Despite the apparent differences Acupuncture and Physiotherapy actually compliment each other very well to de-sensitise hypersensitive nerve endings.

Within our team, most of our Physio’s offer Acupuncture & Dry Needling for the treatment of Pain. This treatment is carried out under safe practicing guidelines issued by the Acupuncture & Dry Needling Group (ADNG), a special interest group within the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA).

We will assess you and advise if Acupuncture (or Dry Needling) is appropriate for your condition. Our team will often provide a combination treatment of acupuncture, exercise prescription, manual therapy and activity modification depending on your individual needs. The conditions that are likely to benefit from this treatment are:

  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lower back & neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscular and Joint Pain
  • Sporting injuries
  • Overuse / repetitive strain injuries

What’s the Evidence?

Research has been able to show that acupuncture has an effect on various nerve pathways throughout our body. This effect occurs at 3 levels (locally, at the spinal cord and at our brain) which stimulates the brain release natural ‘pain relieving’ chemicals (endorphins, serotonin and others).

Acupuncture has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect by releasing a special hormone (ACTH) which stimulates the production of ‘natural cortisone’ in the adrenal glands which acts as a pain killer. Also recent evidence using Brain MRI scans & PET scans has shown that acupuncture has a ‘calming’ effect on the pain centres of our brain, thereby reducing our pain experience.

Recent research has found evidence that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of pain. In a 2017 meta-analysis in the Journal of Pain ( researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, that the effects of acupuncture persist over time, and that the benefits of acupuncture cannot be explained away solely by the placebo effect.

As there is now increasing scientific evidence to support the effects of acupuncture it is fast becoming a ‘mainstream’ treatment for a variety of painful conditions.

Will it Hurt?

Acupuncture is virtually painless as we use very fine ‘needles’ (1/8 of the size of a normal needle). You may feel a short lasting mild discomfort with the ‘needle’ insertion – this is generally no worse than a mosquito bite! Occasionally a more intense sensation is experienced in more sensitive areas.

Once the ‘needles’ are in position most people describe a comfortable relaxing effect, heaviness, numbness or warmth.

Will it Work for You?

There is nothing spiritual about acupuncture and you don’t need to ‘believe’ for it to work!  Like most things in life it doesn’t work for everybody and every condition 100% of the time, but good results are frequently achieved when conventional medicine or tradional physiotherapy has failed. The effects of acupuncture are commonly cumulative, with a build up of effects as treatment progresses. Some people are immediate responders while others may see little benefit until they have had 3 to 5 treatments; this is more likely with chronic conditions.

What are the Risks & Side Effects? Is it Safe?

Acupuncture is very safe when practised by a trained professional, your Physiotherapist will assess your individual case and discuss any potential risks or side effects.

Your SAFETY is our PRIMARY concern! Physiotherapists have Safe Practicing guidelines (including only using single use, sterile & disposable needles) and update their skills regularly to make sure you receive the most up-to-date treatment.

We offer Acupuncture & Dry Needling in clean and hygienic environment. Risks of any serious side effects are very rare, however acupuncture is not appropriate for everyone… Your physiotherapist will discuss any risks that may be relevent to your condition prior to treatment.