There is often a general misconception that acupuncture is a painful and risky procedure. In reality it is a fairly sophisticated and calculated procedure that involves stimulation or activation of natural healing pathways.
The earliest practice of acupuncture was based on extensive surface palpation and clinical observation. Some things haven't changed that much, as, every healthcare professional understands that, regardless of the nature of the complaint, the evaluation of the patient begins as soon as the patient walks in the room. Observing gait, posture and movement, it all provides an enormous amount of information, and direction of treatment.
Through the advances of scientific studies, a new understanding of the mechanisms of acupuncture has evolved and a new term created in response. Called Western Medical Acupuncture. It is a therapeutic treatment involving the insertion of fine needles. An adaption of Chinese acupuncture. Using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine. Healthcare practitioners most commonly use acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal pain, through it is beneficial also in other forms of chronic pain.
Most common pain
Tendon Pain is one of the most commonly diagnosed chronic tissue disorders (according to the centre for disease control). It can affect every major joint in the body and bring down the most well-conditioned athlete. It can also create problems for people in everyday life. Up until recently non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ice, rest and cortisone therapy have been typical treatments for chronic tendon pain. This was assumed on the cause of the problem being inflammation. However new research has indicated therapies that focus on reducing inflammation may be contraindicated. As they may add to the degeneration of the tendon fibres. And studies have shown acupuncture to help tendon fibres to regenerate. Therefore playing a major role in alleviating chronic tendon pain.
What related conditions can acupuncture help with?
Acupuncture is a useful and effective management tool in podiatry. It can be used to treat a range of musculoskeletal conditions affecting the foot and lower limb, such as:
Metatarsalgia / Forefoot pain
Hallux limitus/ rigidus
Heel pain / planter fasciitis
Knee pain – patella femoral
Painful scars to the feet / legs
How many treatments are needed?
The number of treatments varies from person to person for complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several weeks may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary. Most people need between 3 to 8 treatments, and some people need to return for regular “top up” treatments every few months.
How safe is acupuncture? What are the side effects?
Provided patients are under the care of a medical practitioner or a specialist podiatrist, chiropractor or osteopath; all trained in western medicine, acupuncture does seem to be a very safe treatment. Some patients may experience bruising, may feel faint, or may feel very tired following treatment. However, acupuncture has fewer side effects than many drug treatments and most people experience no problems at all.
After treatment of acupuncture
A person can support their treatment at home, through the application of gentle heat. 10 -15 min each time. It helps to minimise post-treatment soreness associated with myofascial release. Studies have shown it helps reduce stiffness and improves elasticity and circulation. It is also recommended someone with myofascial pain to return to movement and exercise as soon as can be tolerated. In general, exercise is encouraged in a relaxed fashion, performed slowly and gently. This can then lead on to strengthening exercises.