Acupuncture is therapy that helps to restore the body’s energy, or vital life force, known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as “Qi” (pronounced chi)   [1-2].  It is believed that by restoring the flow of Qi it restores health, and blockages in flow of Qi cause illness. QI can be stimulated at superficial skin layers which will then trigger the response to deeper muscles and organs.  Acupuncture promotes balance in Yin and Yang, to restore homeostasis of your physical, mental and psychological health to facilitate well-being[3-4].

What is it?

Acupuncture is a complementary treatment, where fine disposable needles are inserted into specific points on the body, that correspond with meridians or subtle energy lines, to influence physiological functioning for therapeutic and preventative purposes, restoring health and improving well‐being [5-6].  Acupuncture should only be administered by a regulated fully qualified healthcare professional. Physiotherapists are the largest group of medical professionals in the UK practising acupuncture.

Western acupuncture, sometimes also called dry-needling, primarily regulates the release of neurochemicals and hormones which stimulate the nervous system in the muscles, spinal cord and brain [7-8].  Used within physiotherapy as part of an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation [9-10]. Acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural endorphins, melatonin and serotonin to aid recovery and enhance rehabilitation, as well as encouraging a sense of wellness [11-12].

Acupuncture can be used:

Acupuncture can be used to treat a vast range of health conditions; physical, emotional, and psychological [13,14,15].  Acupuncture in physiotherapy practice may relieve a wide range of painful conditions such as neck pain, tension-type headache and migraine, shoulder and nerve pain, back ache and sciatic pain [16-17]. Cochrane reviews have found a combination of acupuncture, physiotherapy and stretching may help to ease psychosomatic pain and improve quality of life [18-19].  Acupuncture also helps people clear congestive mucus from the lung and reduces breathlessness [20-21]. There is some evidence that needling can help reduce tiredness and fatigue, and support sleep hygiene by resolving insomnia through the release of melatonin [22,23,24]. Acupuncture may be integrated into the management of systemic conditions [25].

At CHHC we use evidence-based clinical reasoning to provide sound basis for use. Acupuncture is contra-indicated if:

  • If you have a fear of needles
  • If you have uncontrolled diabetes
  • You have a pacemaker
  • If you have a bleeding disorder
  • If there is an open wound/bruising/signs of trauma to an area
  • You have infections/skin disorders
  • Alcohol or drugs have been consumed
  • You have a history of frequent seizures.

Treatment Time + Approach:

Following a complete assessment and detailed history, patients will be physically examined by the physiotherapist. Patients will be asked to remove their outer garments, and comfortably position themselves lying on the couch.  The initial treatment following the insertion of the needles will be approximately 5 -10 minutes, and this will build up at each session gradually. The needles are pre-sterilised hygienically individually wrapped, single use and disposed of after use. Each treatment is individually prescribed, there are hundreds of different acupuncture points, and the precise number of needles will vary depending on condition being treated.  The number of treatment sessions required will depend on each individual, and the frequency will depend on the response of the patient.

Patient may experience “De Qi” as a tingling or dull ache when the needles are inserted.

When performed by a qualified practioner, acupuncture is generally very safe and effective.  Occasionally some patients experience mild, short term side effects such as:

  • Pain
  • Dizziness or faint
  • Feeling Sick
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Sleepy
  • Temporary worsening of symptoms



The ancient medical art of acupuncture originated in China more than 5000 years ago and has been used for prevention and treatment for various diseases.  It was first mentioned in documents 6000 BCE, when sharpened long bones and stones where recoded as instruments for acupuncture. Acupuncture has been used in the West since the 17th century, but grew in popularity after the 1970’s following President Nixon visit to China.  Recent systematic reviews have provided more reliable evidence of 21st century acupuncture positive value in treating nausea (from various causes), dental pain, back pain and headache [26].


If you are interested in finding out if acupuncture could help you, please get in touch.


Recognised Body & References:


1                          Hopwood V (2004) Acupuncture in Physiotherapy. Butterworth Heinemann: China

2             Charman RA (2000) Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapists (Eds). Butterworth Heinemann: Somerset.


4             White A, Cummins M and Filshie J (2008) An Introduction to Western Medical Acupuncture. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: China

5             Bradnam-Roberts L (2010) Clinical reasoning in Western Acupuncture. In: Acupuncture in Manual Therapy (Editor Longbottom J 2010). Croydon:Churchill Livingstone Elsevier

6             Bradnam L (2011) A biopsychosocial clinical reasoning model for western acupuncture.  Physical Therapy Reviews Vol 16 No 2 Page 138 -145

7             Gyer G, Michael J and Tolson B (2016) Dry needling for Manual Therapists. China: Singing Dragon 

8             Deutsch JE and Anderson EZ (2008). Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy: A clinical Decision-Making Approach.  United States: Elsevier

9             White A, Cummings M and Filshie J (2008) An Introduction to Western Medical Acupuncture.  Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: China


11           Dhond, R.P., Kettner, N., Napadow, V. (2007) Neuroimaging acupuncture effects in the human brain. The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine,13, (6), 603-616


13           Hu C, Zhang H, Wu W, Yu W, Li Y, Bai J, Luo B ad Li S (2016) Acupuncture for Pain Management in Cancer: A systematic review and meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

14           Choi, T.Y., Lee, M.S., Kim, T.H., Zaslawski, C. and Ernst, E., 2012. Acupuncture for the treatment of cancer pain: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Supportive Care in Cancer20(6), pp.1147-1158.

15  Xiang, A et al (2017)  The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM), pp. 1-13. Doi: 10.1155/2017/3837194

16           Paley, C.A. and Johnson, M.I., 2017. Acupuncture for the management of cancer-related pain?

17           Lee, M.S. and Ernst, E., 2011. Acupuncture for pain: an overview of Cochrane reviews. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine17(3), pp.187-189.

18           Lee, S., Nam, D., Leem, J., Han, G., Lee, S. and Lee, J., 2015. Efficacy and safety of Myofascial-meridian Release Acupuncture (MMRA) for chronic neck pain: a study protocol for randomized, patient-and assessor-blinded, sham controlled trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine16(1), p.45.

19           Nakajima M1Inoue MItoi MKitakoji H (2013) Clinical effect of acupuncture on cervical spondylotic radiculopathy: results of a case series. Acupuncture in Medicine : Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. 2013 Dec;31(4):364-7. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010317. Epub 2013 Aug 21

20           von Trott, P., Oei, S.L. and Ramsenthaler, C., 2019. Acupuncture for breathlessness in advanced diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of pain and symptom management.

21           Xie, Y., Wang, J.J., Li, G.Y., Li, X.L. and Li, J.S., 2017. Acupuncture for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: Protocol for a systematic review. Medicine96(52).

22           Posadzki, P., Moon, T.W., Choi, T.Y., Park, T.Y., Lee, M.S. and Ernst, E., 2013. Acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Supportive Care in Cancer21(7), pp.2067-2073.

23           Cheuk, D.K., Yeung, W.F., Chung, K.F. and Wong, V., 2012. Acupuncture for insomnia. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (9).

24           Ernst, E., Lee, M.S. and Choi, T.Y., 2011. Acupuncture for insomnia? An overview of systematic reviews. The European journal of general practice17(2), pp.116-123.

25           Cui, Y., Liu, Z., Marchese, M., Lee, M.S., Wang, J. and Niu, J., 2018. Acupuncture for multiple sclerosis. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews2018(9).

26           Ezzo, J., Streitberger, K. and Schneider, A., 2006. Cochrane systematic reviews examine P6 acupuncture-point stimulation for nausea and vomiting. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine12(5), pp.489-495.