What exactly is Medical Acupuncture?

acupuncture technique 300Fast approaching is The British Medical Acupuncture Society foundation course that I will be attending in London next week. In preparation, I decided I wanted to do a bit of an investigation to see what the general consensus was of acupuncture.

From speaking to the clients here in Mount Merrion Chartered Physiotherapy, I got the impression they really found acupuncture a great addition to treatment, and when used alongside manual therapy and exercise and they leave the clinic feeling more relieved from their pain compared to when acupuncture is not used.

Also, my colleagues here in the clinic have seen great improvements in their clients movement and function, more so when using acupuncture, and believe it is a very beneficial adjunct to their clients treatment and management.

I did some background reading around medical acupuncture and I found it interesting that “it is an adaption of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology and the principles of evidence based medicine”.1 I think it’s important to highlight the main distinctions between medical and chinese acupuncture as this can be an area of confusion for people. Medical acupuncture does not involve the traditional concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of ‘qi’, and that it does not claim to be an alternative medical system.

Medical acupuncture has been found to be beneficial for musculoskeletal pain, chronic pain, neuralgia, cancer pain, myofascial pain, among many others. I find it fascinating that it achieves these effects by stimulating the nervous system locally at the point of pain and segmentally i.e in the spinal cord and brain pathways.1,2,3

Having read up on its history, proposed mechanisms of action and therapeutic effects, I know I will find the foundation course an eye opening experience. I’m looking forward to using it in practice with my clients and seeing the benefits for myself in the future.

  1. Western medical acupuncture: a definition. Acupunct Med. 2009 Mar;27(1):33.
  2. White A, Filshie J, editors. An introduction to western medical acupuncture.
  3. Filshie J, White A, editors. Medical acupuncture: a Western scientific approach. Elsevier Health Sciences; 1998.

By Hannah Moran

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