Medical Acupuncture

Medical AcupunctureAt Bearsden Osteopaths we often use Medical Acupuncture in parallel with osteopathic techniques to alleviate pain.

Most people are familiar with the idea of acupuncture being the insertion of very fine needles into specific areas of the body for therapeutic effect, but medical acupuncture (sometimes called “modern” or “western acupuncture” or “dry needling”) differs from most people’s concept of acupuncture as being an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) discipline which works on rebalancing “lines of energy” or your “elements” such as “fire and water”.

In medical acupuncture we have borrowed the tools from TCM (i.e. the needles!) and apply them to a modern understanding of anatomy. One of the main differences is we do not as rigorously have to follow the very specific points on the TCM “meridians”, which although documented for thousands of years by TCM do not follow anatomy as we now understand it. Another difference in practical terms is the length of time the needles are inserted; it is usually a few minutes at most, allowing us to incorporate it into your standard treatment session.

There are several common musculoskeletal conditions for which we have found it to be especially useful and would commonly enquire during an appointment whether the patient would like to incorporate some needles into their treatment plan:-

  • Areas of very tight and painful muscle commonly known as “knots”, technically known as “trigger points” which can appear and cause pain in their own right, but can be part of a wider issue such as the muscle tension associated with a joint sprain in the neck or lower back.
  • Arthritic pain. There is no cure for arthritis but acupuncture can improve quality of life, indeed much of the research into acupuncture has focused on pain reduction from knee osteoarthritis.
  • “Tennis Elbow”. This is not in fact a problem with the elbow itself but with the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
  • Lower back pain and “Sciatica”. Relieving the tension in the lower back and hip muscles with needles can be highly beneficial.

And many more.

It is of course not suitable for everyone. There are safety concerns to be discussed, e.g. having a bleeding disorder may be a reason not to have acupuncture. Understandably, the idea of needles simply might not be everyone’s cup of tea! If we felt you would benefit from acupuncture we would of course discuss this with you beforehand and obtain your consent. It is also not suitable for every condition across the board e.g. the evidence of there being benefit for sciatica associated with a disc injury is not strong enough for us to recommend needles in these cases.

We don’t treat conditions outside of the musculoskeletal system with medical acupuncture, so for help with such things as stopping smoking, fertility, circulation disorders etc. please contact your local TCM acupuncturist, they are highly trained professionals in their field and good results in these areas are often achieved.

A common and perfectly reasonable question from our patients is “what does it do?”. The mechanism of action is however still poorly understood. There are several theories, and the subject is under constant research, but the definitive answer as to exactly what occurs physiologically has yet to be found. Nevertheless, it is well established that it is a very safe form of treatment (when performed by a professional!) and that musculoskeletal pain can be reduced. It is so well established in fact that it is officially approved and funded by the NHS when performed by physiotherapists and GPs (but not osteopaths or TCM acupuncturists unfortunately!)

If you would like to know more about Medical Acupuncture or treatment at Bearsden Osteopaths in general please don’t hesitate to get in touch by phone, email or via the online form on the “Contact Us” page on this website.


Medical Acupuncture was last modified: January 15th, 2015 by Linda Canning