Acupuncture is a holistic system of medicine which has been practised in China and other eastern countries for thousands of years. It is rapidly gaining popularity in the West as its effectiveness becomes more widely known and experienced.
In Chinese medicine the body’s motivating energy is known as Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) which flows smoothly throughout the body maintaining health and vitality.
The pain and discomfort of musculo-skeletal problems is seen a result of Qi becoming either blocked or deficient. Treatment, therefore, naturally aims at restoring the flow of Qi through specific painful areas, and the body as a whole.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either alter the experience of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body's self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well being.
Attention has been focused on the following theories to further explain how acupuncture affects the body.
Evidence suggests that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating these points enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at greater-than-normal rates. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, or release immune system cells to specific body sites.
Considerable research supports the claim that acupuncture releases opioids, synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that may reduce pain or induce sleep. These chemicals may explain acupuncture's pain-relieving effects.
Joined at the base of the brain, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are responsible for many body functions. The hypothalamus activates and controls part of the nervous system, the endocrine processes, and many bodily functions, such as sleep, regulation of temperature, and appetite. The pituitary gland supplies some of the body's needed hormones. Stimulation of these glands can result in a broad spectrum of effects on various body systems.
Studies suggest that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry in a positive way. This is accomplished by changing the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (biochemical substances that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses) and neurohormones (naturally-occurring chemical substances that can change the structure or function, or impact the activity of, a body organ).
The fact that acupuncture treatment has such a system wide affect helps to explain why benefits often include more than just relief from a specific symptom. Hence the frequently heard comment “I’m feeling better in myself”, which refers to such things as increased energy and vitality, greater confidence, more normal appetite and sleep, as well as an overall sense of well being.
Diagnosis focuses closely of the injury mechanism. One of the defining characteristics of acupuncture is its ability to identify and treat underlying causes. Without a clear understanding of the cause, whilst we may get better in the short term, recovery is rarely complete and the injury often recurs or remains a weak spot.
To this effect you will be asked about your current symptoms, treatment you may have already received, along with details of your medical history, your diet, digestion, sleeping patterns and emotional state.
During treatment needles are inserted either for a second or two, or left in place for about 20 minutes depending on the desired effect. As the needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache, and many people experience a pleasant feeling of relaxation.
To book an appointment or for further information please call the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health on (0117) 928 8810
For more information, see our Acupuncturist Leisa Foxlow's website