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What is acupuncture ?

Acupuncture originated in China over two thousand years ago.The traditional Chinese medicine ( TCM) model of this technique supports the concept of using needles inserted into the skin at specific points to inflence the movement and levels of "Qi" ( or life force ) within the body. According to TCM theory, any change in the flow or balance of Qi can lead to pain, disease and disability. Scientific research has examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in various conditions. The use of acupuncure for the treatment of pain is supported by an ever-growing body of evidence.


When is treatment with acupuncture appropriate ?

Following careful assessment, acupuncture will be suggested if your podiatrist believes it will help to improve the effectiveness of your overall treatment.


When should acupuncture not be used.

There are certain circumstances in which acupuncture should not be used

  • If you have a needle phobia 

  • If you have a known infection in the area to be treated

  • If you have a known metal allergy, specifically a reaction to stainless steel.


When should acupuncture be used with caution ?

You should inform your podiatrist if :

  • you have haemophilia or another blood-clotting disorder.

  • you are taking blood-thinning medication, such as anticoagulants.

  • you are known to have a blood-borne virus

  • you are pregnant or trying to conceive

  • you suffer from epilepsy

  • you have an artificial cardiac pacemaker

  • you are diabetic

  • you have a deficient or weakened immune system.

These conditions do not exclude you from having acupuncture, but they will infuence its application.


What does acupuncture treatment involve ?

Podiatrists use sterile, single-use needles. These are very thin - much finer than an injection needle - and are inserted quickly through the skin into the tissues. Acupuncture should not be painful, although some people report experiencing a pinprick or scratch-like sensation. Once the needles are in place, you may feel a mild ache,numbness, warmth or heavy sensation at or around the area being treated. This should not be unpleasent. The feeling is known as " De Qi" and is a sign that the body's inbuilt pain-relieving mechanisms are being activated.


How many needles will be used?

A treatment will usually involve the insertion of between two and six needles.


How long will the needles remain in place?

Needles can be inserted for as little as a few seconds or minutes or can remain in place for up to twenty minutes.


Where will the needles go?

Needles may be inserted:

  • near to or around the painful area

  • away from the painful area

  • on the opposite side of the body

Scientific research has shown that needling away from an area of pain is effective. This can be particularly useful if the affected area is very sensitive.


How many treatments are needed?

The frequency and number of acupuncture treatments depend on the specific condition being treated and how you respond to therapy. Each session should be tailored to you and your condition.Research suggests that a course of six to ten treatments is required to achieve the best results for long standing painful conditions such as osteoarthritis. If your symptoms remain the same after these are completed, it is unlikely that acupuncture will help you.If you do gain benefit, the period of symptom ease is varied and uncertain. Some people experience lasting relief. Your individual management plan will be discussed with you.

Is acupuncture safe?

Data onacupuncture suggest that minor side effects such as bleeding and bruising occur infrequently. Other minor side effects ( e.g. discomfort around the needle site, feeling faint or light - headed, and drowsiness or sleepiness ) are even less common.


Serious side effects are very rare indeed.These higly unusual problems ( source: Witt et al. 2009) include

  •  damage to an internal organ caused by a needle

  •  infection

  •  injury to nerves

 if you have any further queries, please ask your podiatrist, Mr Rarity



National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ( NICE) ( 2009) Low Back Pain: Early Management of Persistent Non-Specific Low Back Pain: NICE Clinical Guidlines 88. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, London.


Witt C.M., Pach D., Brinkhaus B., et al. (2009) Safety of acupuncture: results of a prospective observational study with 229,230 patients and introuction of medical information and consent form. Forschende Komplementarmedizin 16 (2), 91 - 97






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