What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting very fine, sterile, disposable needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. It is used to regulate the function of the human body, for example to increase blood flow, modulate the nervous system and to enhance the immune system. Evidence currently available supports acupuncture as a potentially effective therapy to manage a range of symptoms.
What are acupuncture points?
Modern science shows that the location the 320 most commonly used acupuncture points are associated with a high concentration of nerve fibres and blood vessels.
They are unique neuro-anatomical targets which we can use to stimulate the body to help it to self-regulate via the brain and nervous system to accelerate healing.
How does it work?
Acupuncture achieves its many effects through complex physiological mechanisms in differing ways throughout the various aspects of the body.
In a nutshell, needling an ‘acupoint’ triggers not only an effect in that local area, but depending on the point chosen, can affect both the muscles and organs via specific spinal segments.
It can trigger the release of our own natural pain killers which is why it is so well known for relieving pain. Acupuncture works to regulate the autonomic nervous system, the motor pathways of the nervous system and the immune and endocrine systems and in so doing it can reduce inflammation, increase cellular metabolism and speed tissue healing.
Are there different styles of acupuncture?
Yes. Our practitioners are trained in various styles which we adapt depending on what is best suited to our patients. Our acupuncturists are skilled in Japanese superficial, Chinese Traditional, Western Neuro-acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, motor point therapy and auricular (ear) acupuncture.
We always do a full diagnosis and discuss which type of treatment, or combination of treatments is right for you.
Acupuncture is not the same as dry needling which is practiced by some physiotherapists and chiropractors as an adjunct to their practice and usually only treats the local muscle trigger points. Dry needling does not use the comprehensive diagnostic parameters which we use and it is not an holistic treatment.
Acupuncturists at ben&biao use precision needling to specific depths, pre-determined to elicit direct neurological and physiological responses.
Our practitioners are highly trained, members of AHPRA and use the most currently researched protocols and methods and applications when treating patients.
For more information about our acupuncturists click here.
Will it hurt? Are there side-effects?
Acupuncture should not be painful, however very mild sensations may be felt in the form of a dull ache, a ‘spreading’ sensation or slight electric feeling. The type of feeling depends on the type of nerve or muscle fibre being stimulated and tells us that your nervous system is responding to the needles in the right way.
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine, so insertion should not produce the sharp or stinging pain that an injection or blood test does. Those needles are much larger and hollow to draw up blood, our purpose is very different, our needles are very much smaller.
It is unlikely that you will experience side effects. Occasionally people note a slight bleed, bruising and/or some light-headedness following acupuncture. Our acupuncturists are university-trained with a minimum of four years clinical practice and are all AHPRA regulated to minimise any side-effects and perform your treatment safely.
What if I hate needles?
No need to worry, we have alternatives for those of you who really don’t want to be needled. Scroll down to the ‘Alternatives to acupuncture’ list.
How many treatments will it take?
Every patient is different, so a Treatment Plan will be determined and discussed with you as part of your initial consultation.
Factors which come into play include age, general health, the severity of the condition and how long the patient has had the condition, what the patient goals are, eg achieving pregnancy, relieving pain.
Sometimes there is full resolution after just one treatment, but this is unusual. In our experience, the first treatment produces a noticeable impact that typically dissipates after a day or two. This is partly because the biochemicals released by acupuncture have their effect but are metabolised and gone out of the system in around 3-5 days.
Reversion is also affected by the possible continued presence of degenerative change, inflammation (often systemic), pathogens (eg chronic viruses), long-term stress and overwork, unhealthy eating habits, poor nutrition.
Studies and clinical experience show that a course of treatments, correctly spaced works better to prolong the treatment effect, stabilise the condition and for the body to self-regulate to provide longer-term symptomatic relief.
Our Treatment Plan sets out our agreed goals and how we plan to get you there. We will also provide you with a cost outline and available options.
Types of acupuncture
This is the most traditional of the systems. We use both the Chinese and Japanese style which is gentle and painless insertion. Used for many conditions especially psychological, during pregnancy, or for elderly and/or immune compromised individuals.
This is acupuncture with the addition of electrodes clipped to the needles in order to apply very small electric current to the needles. EA is often used to relieve pain, congestion, constipation, inflammation, neurological disorders and to help induce labour.
We use only the most modern electro acupuncture machines which have been manufactured to provide safe and accurate micro-stimulation and which switch off when the desired ‘dosage’ has been achieved. Our machines and protocols are designed to achieve reliable clinical outcomes.
Our patients often report that they feel a slight buzzing or tapping or a warm sensation with electro. Many patients find it relaxing and fall asleep.
Auricular (ear) acupuncture – with or without needles
This system was originally invented by the Chinese but perfected by Europeans in the 1950s. It uses the stimulation of specific points or areas on the ear to initiate a neuro-physiologial reaction such as:
- Muscle relaxation
- Mediation of pain signalling
- Regulation of histamine response
- Lowering inflammatory factors
Using modern scanning techniques such as functional MRI tests, studies have shown that there are point-for-point correlations between the ear and body regions – and not just the musculoskeletal parts of the body, but via the central nervous system it can influence hormonal and visceral triggers too.
We can stimulate ear points in a number of ways, eg E-stim, micro needles or EA depending on the treatment goal and patient comfort.
We can prolong the treatment effect by placing ‘take-away’ ear seeds or sometimes micro-needles onto certain points which can stay in the ear for several days.
In this way we can prolong treatment after the patient has walked out of the door and thereby enhance the treatment effect.
Alternatives to acupuncture
We find this especially useful when treating children. No needles necessary. Our purpose-manufactured cold lasers do the work of needles on the young, elderly or weak. Children love the red or blue lasers and report a cool sensation over the skin.
These small machines are either used in conjunction with needles or the cold laser to enhance the treatments. They are also painless. Patients may detect a small buzzing sound.
What else can I expect at my treatment?
- McDonald, J. Janz, J. 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, AACMA, https://www.acupuncture.org.au/resources/publications/the-acupuncture-evidence-project-a-comparative-literature-review-2017/
- Acupuncture – a Biomedical Information Therapy, Medical Acupuncture v28, n6, 2016
- Mediators of Inflammation. 2003;12(2):59-69. doi:10.1080/0962935031000114943, Zijlstra FJ, van den Berg-de Lange I, Huygen FJPM, Klein J. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture.
- Fifteen-day Acupuncture Treatment Relieves Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Tong, Yanqing et al. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies , Volume 3 , Issue 2 , 95 – 103
- The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: a meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain, MacPherson, H.a,*; Vertosick, E.A.b; Foster, N.E.c; Lewith, G.d; Linde, K.e; Sherman, K.J.f; Witt, C.M.g,h,i; Vickers, A.J.b, PAIN: May 2017 – Volume 158 – Issue 5 – p 784–793