What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of treatment that has been used in China for thousands of years to keep people in good health. Acupuncture works on the principle that all symptoms arise due to imbalances, so the aim of the acupuncturist is to locate these imbalances and correct them through the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body. These points are selected to be of the greatest benefit to the patient depending on their individual circumstances, and continued treatment is then focussed upon strengthening the patient to prevent further imbalances from occurring.
What Does an Acupuncture Treatment Consist of?
The styles of acupuncture that Matt has trained in use a various diagnostic methods to get an in depth picture of your lifestyle and overall health. This normally includes taking a full medical history in the initial session, feeling your pulses at both wrists and looking at your tongue. Based on this information Matt can then go on to diagnose your symptoms from a Chinese medical point of view and then tailor the subsequent treatments in a way that will be most effective for you.
Matt has also been trained in the use of other forms of treatment that are common in Chinese medicine and can be used to increase the efficacy of his treatments. These can include:
Cupping - The use of mild vacuum suction cups over acupuncture points.
Moxibustion - Burning of mugwort (a type of herb) over or on acupuncture points to introduce warmth.
Qi Gung - [pronounced "chee gong"] A set of movements similar to Tai Chi designed to enhance well-being.
Tui Na - [pronounced "twee nar"] Chinese medical massage.
Gua Sha - [pronounced "gwar sher"] Another form of massage using a small comb to lightly scrape an area of skin.
Your first visit is likely to last for 90 minutes to enable Matt to gather information about your symptoms as described above. Subsequent visits should take around 60 minutes depending on the complexity of treatment that is required for your condition.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine and completely unlike the needles used for injections and blood tests. The actual insertion of the needle through the skin is generally painless; the sensation that you will be asked to watch out for is the dull ache or tingling that you will experience when the needle connects with the acupuncture point. This sensation is not unpleasant and usually only lasts a few minutes, but is important as it shows that the needle has reached the intended point and that the treatment is having the desired effect.
What Effect will it have?
Overall patients report that acupuncture is a relaxing experience and that they often feel a sense of calm after a treatment. If you can you should avoid vigorous exercise afterwards and try to give yourself a little time to relax and rest. It is also advisable not to drink alcohol or caffeine for several hours after a session as this can interfere with the outcome of the treatment.
Is it safe?
Treatment is very low risk because the needle insertion is very superficial. The needles used are single-use, sterile and disposable, and the stringent hygiene practices recommended by the British Acupuncture Council are observed at all times to ensure safety. These procedures have been approved by the Department of Health and provide protection against the transmission of infectious diseases. The results of two independent surveys published in the British Medical Journal in 2001* concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is extremely rare.
* (MacPherson et al & White et al, British Medical Journal September 2001)
How many sessions will I need?
Because every patient is different there is no exact rule about how many treatments will be required for you to start to feel the effects of treatment. However, it is common to come for weekly sessions at the start of your treatment and you may start to feel benefits after the first or second treatment. Long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more treatment to improve, though this is not always the case. Once the treatment has begun to take hold your sessions will be spaced out over increasing intervals until you decide that you are well enough to no longer need it. Having said this a lot of patients then choose to have regular ‘top-up’ sessions to maintain what they have gained through their initial course of treatment.
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What is Acupuncture?