Beginners Guide to Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture originates from ancient Chinese medicine and is often seen as complimentary/alternative medicine, but is also used in NHS and pain clinics.

Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual and this is where the skill of the acupuncturist comes into play. Their expertise will be used to highlight the underlying issues and provide treatment accordingly. The choice of acupuncture points will be specific to each patient's needs.

Acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to promote wellbeing and stimulate the immune system. Increasingly, evidence from scientific research is showing just how well acupuncture works for treating a wide range of conditions.

The idea of acupuncture is based on stimulating the nervous system to influence the body’s production of hormones and neurotransmitters – the commutators of our body. The changes that come from this production activates the body’s self-regulating systems. In other words, it encourages the body to heal itself and feel better.


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So What Actually Happens?

Sensory nerves are stimulated under the skin which makes your body release natural substances, including endorphins. This is why lots of people say acupuncture is pleasurable rather than painful. It also improves circulation and helps reduce swelling.

Based on the belief that an energy, or life force, flows through the body, traditional acupuncture calls this force ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’). The idea is that when the Qi doesn’t flow freely, it can cause illness. Acupuncture restores the flow.

What Happens when you Get Acupuncture

Very fine needles are pushed into different sites on the body. The needles are different lengths depending on the part of the body that’s being targeted.

How Can it Help?

Acupuncture can be used for lots of problems:

  • persistent lower back pain
  • chronic tension headaches
  • migraines
  • other musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:
  • chronic pain, such as neck pain
  • joint pain
  • dental pain
  • postoperative pain


This blog was written by Anna Clayton: Anna works at Bury Physiotherapy Clinic as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and has recently completed a MSc in Advanced Physiotherapy.  She teaches regular Pilates classes including a Pink Pilates; specifically for breast cancer patients. At the clinic she offers patients acupuncture alongside other treatment techniques to help people back to normal day to day activities, sports and hobbies - she is all for functional movement! Anna enjoys keeping fit and active with regular running (the odd half or full marathon), occasional cycling and was a rower and heptathlete in her youth. 

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