Amethyst Osteopathic Clinic
And Complementary Therapies

266 Addington Road, Selsdon, Surrey, CR2 8LE

Tel: 020 8657 6211

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Dry Needling/Westernised Acupuncture

Jaimini Mistry BSc (Hons) M.Ost (Registered Osteopath)

What are the differences between traditional and westernised / modern acupuncture?

The differences are mainly at the level of theory - ideas about what is going on when one inserts an acupuncture needle into a patient. There, are, however, also some practical differences.

  • Westernised / Modern acupuncturists do not use traditional diagnostic methods such as the pulse or the appearance of the tongue.
  • Westernised acupuncturists leave the needles in place for quite a short period of time.
  • Many, though not all, modern acupuncturists use only a few needles - perhaps four and sometimes only one! Surprising though this may seem, experience shows that doing acupuncture this way is quite as effective as using a lot of needles and leaving them in for longer and is less likely to have unwanted effects.

Which is better, modern or traditional?

It is not possible to give an objective answer to this question because there is little good research evidence that bears on it. Probably both versions of acupuncture are roughly similar in effectiveness but modern acupuncture is generally quicker and easier to perform. There are also some techniques in the modern version that are not used in traditional acupuncture and which are particularly effective in certain circumstances, e.g. for the treatment of joint pain (arthritis).

How Does it Work?

We cannot yet explain this in detail but we do have some clues.

In many cases the acupuncturist makes use of "trigger points". These are areas, usually in muscle, that hurt when pressed and cause pain to radiate to other places that may be some distance away from the trigger point. Needling the trigger point can relieve pain in these distant areas, although we do not know exactly how this happens.

Acupuncture can still work even when there are no trigger points. In such cases it probably acts by changing the ways in which the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is transmitting information about pain.

It is important to understand that acupuncture does have measurable effects on the body even though we can't explain them all in detail. You don't have to believe in it for it to work!

What conditions can be helped by acupuncture

In general, acupuncture is good for pain, especially pain in the muscles and joints (including some kinds of arthritis). It can also help in a range of other disorders, including headaches and migraine, some allergies, painful periods, and ulcerative colitis.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture is usually not pain-free. However, it is no more painful than an ordinary injection or blood test and in many cases it is less painful than these. As a rule it is necessary to produce a little pain to achieve an improvement but some people feel nothing at all.