Why should I try acupuncture?
It is estimated that around 90 per cent of chronic pain is neuropathic in nature, which means that it is caused by a malfunction in the way the brain perceives pain signals from an area that has previously had some sort of trauma or strain. Over time this chronic pain leads to reduced blood supply and muscle tightness in the area, making it difficult to heal. By stimulating the nervous system, acupuncture needles can initiate rapid pain relief by directing the body to release natural pain-killing chemicals at the site of the pain, which in turn creates a healing response in which blood flow is increased and the surrounding muscles can relax. Similarly, many internal and emotional conditions such as stress and irritability are also exacerbated by this same process of impeded blood flow, for example to the digestive system, or to the liver, leading to reduced ability to remove stress hormones from the blood. Acupuncture can relax the internal muscles and restore healthy blood flow (please see my blog article How Acupuncture Works, for more in depth information on this process)
In addition to neuropathic pain, acupuncture can also restore the optimal function of muscles. Trauma, such as a muscle strains or joint injuries, often leads to a phenomenon called motor inhibition. This causes muscles in the injured area, and sometimes away from it, to stop contracting as strongly. Left unresolved, this can cause problems; for example inhibited glutes mean the lower back muscles have to do more work and can easily become strained. Motor inhibition delays recovery, creates unhelpful compensatory movement patterns (which can create further pain and musculoskeletal problems) and limit athletic performance. By using gentle electrical stimulation (which feels like a ‘pulsing sensation) of needles placed in the area where the nerve joins the muscle, the muscle strength can be restored. Patients are often impressed when after this treatment a muscle that was previously weak in resisted movements suddenly becomes strong.
What should I expect from treatment?
During your initial consultation, I will ask questions about your symptoms and undertake a structural diagnosis of any musculoskeletal problems, including muscle resistance tests to discover if any muscle functions are inhibited. In some cases I will also use the Traditional Chinese diagnosis techniques of feeling the pulse at the wrists and looking at the tongue in order to build up a complete picture of your individual state of health.
In accordance with the diagnosis, I may treat the problem area directly utilising motor and trigger point needling into the affected muscles and nerves to restore function and/or use needles away from the site of pain. In the latter case needles will be inserted along neural pathways that will allow the body to pinpoint where the problem is located and initiate a natural healing response, with rapid pain relief. If you have had acupuncture before, this style may seem unusual as it does not rely on needles inserted locally into the problem area. Instead by mapping the nervous system of a limb to another limb or to the body, an effective treatment can be employed using needles in points located anywhere from the knee to the toes and elbow to the fingers.
Where appropriate, additional therapies such as a guasha, heat lamp, Chinese massage (tuina), cupping or moxibustion may be used.
How long will the effects last?
Local needling into muscles and nerves can make instantaneous changes to muscles strength and function. However, it often causes a temporary aggravation, with soreness usually lasting 24-48 hours, after which the area generally feels greatly improved and less painful than it did to begin with.
With needling into areas away from the problem area (distal needling), pain relief from the initial session can last anything from several hours to several days, after which it may begin to return, albeit at a lower intensity. This is a sign that acupuncture is highly likely to work for this condition, but it will require further stimulation of the nervous system to retrain it, so that the body can fully resolve the problem (see my blog article How Acupuncture Works for more information). It is highly beneficial if, in the early stages of treatment with this style, the patient can receive at least 2 treatments per week, as this will bring about a stronger and more rapid retraining of the nervous system. Thus, rather than managing symptoms, the condition can fully resolve. Since I realise that this can be financially problematic, I offer a second treatment in a week at a reduced rate (see Pricing section below). This provides two treatments for a total cost comparable to one session with many other types of therapy.
How many treatments will be required?
Acupuncture doesn’t require any belief in it for it to work. What it does require is the same commitment that is necessary for any other physical medicine, i.e. to give it a fair chance to work. Fortunately, this does not mean blindly putting faith in having a long course of treatments. For most painful conditions, acupuncture should provide obvious relief from symptoms within 3 treatments. In which case it will be evident to you that the technique is working and then we can work out how many sessions may be needed to fully resolve the condition. If after 3 sessions nothing is changing, it is likely that there is a structural defect (for example a bone spur pressing on a nerve or tendon), for which acupuncture is less likely to be effective. In which case, I will suggest seeking further medical investigations and/or structural manipulation therapies.
What does it feel like?
Acupuncture needles are much finer than those used for injections and blood tests. When the needle is inserted, the sensation is frequently described as a tingling or dull ache. This sensation is momentary and quickly dissipates.
During motor point needling, you will feel an involuntary twitch of the muscles as the nerve controlling it is stimulated with a very mild current. The twitch can seem strange at first, but it is not painful.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture is a very safe therapy. All needles used are single-use, sterile and disposable. As the body adjusts to the effects of the treatment, some people may feel temporarily tired or mildly dizzy.
Treatments (including first session’s initial consultation): £35
If more than 2 appointments are required within the space of a week (week beginning Monday), the second appointment will offered at a discounted rate of £25
Please allow 1.5 Hours for an initial session
Subsequent sessions are 1 Hour
Where are you?
Rob Veater Acupuncture is located in Colne Engaine, a picturesque village, a short drive from the towns of Earls Colne, Pebmarsh, Halstead, Sudbury and Colchester. Click here for more information.