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Medical Acupuncture/Dry Needling for Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
Acupuncture is effective in a wide range of painful conditions and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain e.g. back, shoulder, neck and leg pain. It has also been successfully used to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains and various kinds of rheumatic and arthritic pain.
How does it work?
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the body's release of natural painkillers - endorphin and serotonin - in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received.
But acupuncture does much more than reduce pain, and has a beneficial effect on health. Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.
Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body's systems - the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.
What is involved in having acupuncture?
Every patient will be assessed by a Chartered Physiotherapist or Registered Osteopath and a specific medical diagnosis will be given. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into various points in the body depending on the condition being treated. The duration of treatment depends on the nature of the problem. Occasionally manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may only be two or three. Acupuncture may be used in conjunction with other treatment techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise and electrotherapy.
A typical course of acupuncture would be about 4 to 6 sessions, however this may vary according to how long the problem has been present and how quickly you respond to treatment. It may take a couple of sessions before you start to feel improvements.
Who will give the acupuncture treatment?
All acupuncturists at Riverview Clinic are university qualified professionals registered with the OCI and GOsC who have undertaken additional training with the British Medical Acupuncture Society in medical acupuncture. Our practitioners are therefore able to use their wider medical knowledge to diagnose and safely treat conditions that are suitable for acupuncture.
What does acupuncture treat?
For musculoskeletal and neurological disorders acupuncture offer treatments for arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, pain relief, sports injuries...
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Arthritis is a common complaint of patients seeking acupuncture. The most common diagnosis within this broad category is those people who suffer with osteoarthritis which is a chronic inflammation and degeneration of the articular cartilage. Most commonly found in the major weight bearing joints it is also most notable in the joints of the hands and fingers. The cartilage breakdown and inflammation produces spurring in and around the joints.
Medical acupuncture addresses the inflammation, muscular guarding and tension that occur around the joint spaces. This decrease in tension allows for less irritation in the joints and a marked decrease in pain. There is substantial evidence to show a marked decrease in pain levels that persist as treatment progresses.
Acupuncture for Back Pain
The back is the structure that supports most of our daily activities. Over time and through repetitive use we develop postures that are not as capable of adapting to stresses. Muscular strain occurs and is the most common form of back discomfort. These patterns, if left unattended, become more problematic in later years.
Acupuncture acts to release the areas where muscles are too tight and support or tone those that are weakened by disuse. The result is a more balanced back with the ability to support us in our daily activities.
Acupuncture for Bursitis
A bursa is a soft tissue sac filled with fluid that your body uses to reduce friction between moveable structural components. Often bursae will exist between tendons or between tendons and bone. Bursitis is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds our major joints. These sacs are fluid filled and lubricate the joint space where loaded movement occurs.
Acupuncture treatment may be used to control the pain, reduce the inflammation, and relieve mechanical pressure on the bursa through targeted inhibition of specific muscles in the region.
Acupuncture for Chronic Pain
In the treatment of a chronic pain pattern acupuncture addresses both the underlying cause of the pain as well as the pain signal. This process and response are slower because of the interplay between the injury signal of the tissue and the central nervous system memory of that signal. This approach is also what gives acupuncture its successes in the treatment of these problems.
Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a non inflammatory disorder of the soft tissue. It is usually preceded by traumatic injury, acute illness or emotional trauma in which the normal recovery mechanisms do not operate properly. This results in pain, fatigue, sleep and digestive disorders. Acupuncture has been found to be very effective in the treatment of fatigue, pain and sleep.
Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines
Tension headache, cluster headache or “true” migraine all have a neuromuscular trigger which is effectively addressed using acupuncture by deactivating reactive trigger points, muscle tension and easing the reactive tone of the nervous system. Treatment is directed at interrupting the trigger and symptoms that follow.
Acupuncture for Inflammation/Swelling
Acupuncture can address inflammation and swelling both directly and indirectly. Local needling at the site of inflammation engages the inflammatory agents directly through histamine released in the tissue. Once triggered, chemical reactions cause a net anti-inflammatory impact frequently accompanied by a decrease in swelling and pain from pre-treatment levels.
Inflammatory conditions, whether a muscular or joint presentation, can be addressed by acupuncture. A general easing of reactivity in the peripheral nervous system combines to aid in the resolution of inflammatory disorders.
Acupuncture for Muscle Tension/Dysfunction
Muscle tension and dysfunction are addressed on a daily basis in Riverview Clinic. Whether secondary to a traumatic injury, overuse or ongoing stress, acupuncture has the ability to help restore normal muscle function. This is a process of deactivating unnatural muscle firing patterns that make movements inefficient and uncomfortable. The time for restoration/recovery process is dependent on the severity of the condition.
Acupuncture for Neurological Diseases
Neurologic disorders cover a vast array of disorders from multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s to carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy. These and other conditions are addressed by attempting to regulate central nervous system neuro-transmitters thereby affecting how nervous impulses travel through the various aspects of the nervous system.
In the more complex disorders such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis treatment occurs over an extended period of time. The affect of acupuncture is experienced early on in the treatment protocol and progresses slowly through the process.
Acupuncture for Rheumatology
Rheumatologic conditions range from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis and Ankylosing spondylitis. This covers a wide range of disorders affecting joints and soft tissue.
Acupunctures regulatory effect on structure and physiologic processes allows for pain and inflammatory reduction. It is often coupled with medications to decrease joint erosion. Acupuncture through its actions often allow for lower dosing of medication used in the treatment of rheumatologic conditions.
Acupuncture for Sciatica
Sciatica is the inflammation of the sciatic nerve either as a response to impingement, often of the piriformis muscle that overlies it in the gluteus muscle group, or as a response to nerve root irritation in the low back where the origin of its component parts arises. In all cases there is a structural restrictive process of the back and pelvis which result in the irritation of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is commonly subject to irritation in two places: first, at the roots of certain spinal nerves as they exit the spinal column (before later bundling together in the sciatic nerve), and second, in the hip region where the sciatic nerve passes through a key structural balance point. Damaged spinal structures and/or spasm of deep spinal muscles can irritate the nerve roots, generating symptoms that may refer down part or the complete length of the nerve pathway.
Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of this common disorder by releasing the structural restriction in the form of tight muscular patterns and producing anti inflammatory agents in your system.
Acupuncture for Sports Injuries
All patients, and particularly athletes or other physically active individuals, may benefit from acupuncture's muscle-cueing, motor pattern influences to address the faulty body mechanics that predispose one to injury. This holds for acute injury with an abrupt onset as well as insidious inflammatory conditions. Many "over-use" injuries are really "improper-use" injuries that require retraining movements and skills to avoid mechanically stressing structural weak spots.
Acupuncture's anti-inflammatory effects may benefit acutely injured muscle, tendon, or ligament.
Acupuncture for Tendonitis
Generally, tendonitis will develop when the stresses on a tendon overwhelm the body's repair mechanisms. This may occur in a poorly designed exercise regimen with inadequate rest periods or inappropriate conditioning for the physical challenges of an activity. Any activity performed frequently with poor body mechanics will place stress on some structural weak link—often a tendon. Acupuncture can help manage the pain of tendonitis while decreasing inflammation of the tendon. More importantly, acupuncture can be used for targeted muscle cueing (or inhibition), with the goal of reinforcing or retraining proper body mechanics through motor recruitment patterns. This will address the root cause of the inflammation and pain.
An effective tool in all forms of tendonitis, acupuncture reduces inflammation and eases movement restrictions allowing for a smoother, easier recovery. Often co-ordinated early on with non steroidal anti inflammatory medication, recovery is accelerated allowing for a faster withdrawal from the medication without rebound.