How Acupuncture Works and How It Can Help You

How Acupuncture Works and How It Can Help You

Acupuncture has been around for more than a thousand years and originated in China back in 100BC. However, it was discovered that even other parts of the world practiced acupuncture such as regions in Eurasia, India and Europe. But what does it do and what are the differences between different types of acupuncture?

Different Types and Their Theories

Further research needs to be investigated; however, the proposed theories are: 

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine: This is the commonly known type of acupuncture that is practiced aiding with many different types of ailments from pain, pregnancy, immune health and even weight loss. TCM is based on theory of ‘Qi’ flow which is believed to be the spiritual energy flow in our bodies. TCM states that the acupuncture points on our bodies are like channels for our Qi or energy to flow. If these channels become blocked, the energy becomes stagnant and represent as physical ailments and symptoms. The acupuncture is believed to open these channels and allow the Qi to flow freely. 
  • Segmental Needling: Our spinal nerves innervate different areas of our bodies and muscles. On these areas, we have points that have different nerves that can send signals to the brain to physiologically change our bodies. You can think of these points as switches in the brain, and when it is stimulated by a needle, it sends signals to the brain to release certain types of chemicals and hormones that can potentially, reduce pain and increase healing of that area. 
  • Dry Needling: When our muscles are over-worked, its fibres tend to bunch up into what you know as knots. These points are called trigger points and dry needling targets these trigger points to break up these taught muscle bundles. This will tend to relax and re-activate the muscle, allowing for improved movement, reduced pain and tension.

What we do in the Clinic

At ESPR Physiotherapy, we tend to use segmental and dry needling techniques to supplement our movement and exercise-based rehab programs. As mentioned above these types of needling techniques may help to:

  • Reactivate the muscles and improve its ability to learn new movements (improved motor programming) (Hui et al., 2005, 2009). 
  • Increases the body’s ability to uptake opioids (pain reducing chemicals) leading to increased pain reductions (Harris et al., 2009).  
  • Increase blood flow to the muscle, and improving its potential for healing (Kimura, Masuda & Wakayama, 2006). 
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation through the release of cortisol (Roth, Maret-Maric, Adler & Neuenschwander, 1997). 

While we do utilise and advocate these needling techniques, it is important to understand that this is only a supplementary treatment technique. So unfortunately, sticking a couple needles in won’t do the trick to reverse your injury permanently. Movement corrections and an exercised-based rehab program are key to getting you moving and functioning the best you can and to keep it that way.