FAQ's

Acupuncture

Find out about acupuncture + your treatment

Acupuncture FAQ’s

Is acupuncture available on the NHS?

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends Acupuncture for the treatment of migraines, headaches and back pain on the NHS. Some GP practices offer integrated healthcare that includes acupuncture, but this is not yet commonplace.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world. Acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for thousands of years.

The focus is on you as an individual, not your illness, and all symptoms are seen in relation to each other. Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to affect the flow of your body’s Qi, or vital energy.

Members of the British Acupuncture Council practice the Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Acupuncture modality.

Is it safe for babies and children?

Yes. Children and adolescents usually respond very well to acupuncture. Many acupuncturists specialise in paediatric care.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncturists insert very fine needles at precisely located points to connect with your body’s Qi. They will decide which points are right for you after a detailed consultation covering every aspect of your health and lifestyle.

The aim is to direct the flow of Qi to trigger your body’s healing response and to restore physical, emotional and mental equilibrium.

Treatment is designed to affect your whole being as well as your symptoms so, as the condition being treated improves, you may notice other health problems resolve and an increased feeling of wellbeing. Watch this simple video to explain more.

What are Acupuncture points?
There are over 500 acupuncture points distributed over the entire body. These points are located at precise places along interconnected pathways that map the whole body, including the head, trunk and limbs. The most commonly used acupuncture points are on the lower arms and legs however there are many micro-systems that span across the whole body, including the ear, the scalp, the hand and the abdomen.
What are the benefits of Acupuncture?

A growing body of evidence based clinical research is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions.

A lot of people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains, such as osteoarthritis of the knee, TMJ, headaches and low back pain, or for common health problems like an overactive bladder. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance, but they have no obvious diagnosis. And many have regular treatments because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.

Find out more about acupuncture and if it can help your specific health condition by reading more on Evidence Based Acupuncture or The British Acupuncture Council website.

What are the benefits of Acupuncture?

Occasionally a small bruise can appear at a needle site. Sometimes people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this passes quickly. Watch this simple video explaining more.

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture needles are so fine that most people don’t feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a mild tingle or dull ache as the acupuncturist adjusts the needle to direct Qi. While the needles are in place most people feel deeply relaxed which can continue after they are removed.

Watch this simple video demonstrating how little you feel when receiving acupuncture.

What is TCM Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) acupuncture is a healthcare system based on ancient principles which go back nearly two thousand years. It has a very positive model of good health and function, and looks at pain and illness as signs that the body is out of balance. The overall aim of acupuncture treatment, then, is to restore the body’s equilibrium.

What makes this system so uniquely suited to modern life is that physical, emotional and mental are seen as interdependent, and reflect what many people perceive as the connection between the different aspects their lives.

Based on traditional belief, acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for centuries. The focus is on the individual, not their illness, and all the symptoms are seen in relation to each other. Each patient is unique; two people with the same western diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments.

TCM acupuncturists believe that the underlying principle of treatment is that illness and pain occur when the body’s Qi, or vital energy, cannot flow freely. There can be many reasons for this; emotional and physical stress, poor nutrition, infection or injury are among the most common.

By inserting ultra-fine sterile needles into specific acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncturist seeks to re-establish the free flow of qi to restore balance and trigger the body’s natural healing response.

Until the 1940s, when the Chinese government commissioned the development of a uniform system of diagnosis and treatment, somewhat misleadingly referred to as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), nearly all training had been apprentice-style with masters and within families. The same applied when acupuncture travelled overseas to Japan and South East Asia.

As a consequence of this there are many different styles of acupuncture which share a common root but are distinct and different in their emphasis. You may read of TCM, Five Elements, Stems and Branches, Japanese Meridian Therapy, and many others, all of which have their passionate devotees.

TCM acupuncture has a long history of adapting to new cultures in which it is practised. Its growing popularity and acceptance in the West may well promote yet more new and exciting variations on the ancient themes.

A growing body of evidence-based clinical research shows that traditional acupuncture safely treats a wide range of common health problems.

What is the history of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a branch of traditional medicine that has been practised in China and the far east for thousands of years. It has been developed, tested, researched and refined to give a detailed understanding of the body’s energetic balance.

Without the benefit of modern scientific equipment, the first acupuncturists discovered many now familiar aspects of biomedical science, such as the impact of emotional stress on the body.

Traditional acupuncture has steadily grown in popularity in the UK since the 1970s.

What is Moxa?

Moxa (Moxibustion) is a technique often used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance the effect of the treatment. The dried herb, Mugwort, is used like incense to gently and safely warm the body, relax muscles and supplement Qi.

Why use a member of the British Acupuncture Council?

It is very important to check that your acupuncturist is safe and competent. Acupuncture in the UK is not currently regulated by government, although this is expected to change in the near future.

All members of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) can offer you the following assurances:

  • BSc or BA degree level training or its equivalent in traditional acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and western biomedical sciences including anatomy, physiology and pathology (3,600 hours of study)
  • compliance with current UK health and safety legislation
  • full medical malpractice and public/products liability insurance cover
  • expert practice skills maintained by following a mandatory individual programme of continuing professional development (CPD)
  • regular updates from the BAcC regarding practitioners’ professional obligations to the public
  • compliance with BAcC Code of Safe Practice and Code of Professional Conduct
  • patient access to the BAcC complaints and disciplinary procedures

Acupuncturists registered with the BAcC carry the letters MBAcC after their name.

Is Acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments, both conventional and complementary, on offer in the UK.

Two surveys conducted independently of each other and published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. This is far less than many orthodox medical treatments.

One survey was of traditional acupuncturists and the other of doctors who practise acupuncture. A total of 66,000 treatments were reviewed altogether, with only a handful of minor and transient side effects recorded.

A 2003 survey of 6,000 patients of acupuncture produced almost identical figures.

There are very few side effects from acupuncture when practised by a fully qualified practitioner of traditional acupuncture. Any minor side effects that do occur, such as dizziness or bruising around needle points, are mild and self-correcting.

When you receive treatment from a BAcC registered acupuncturist you can be confident that your wellbeing and safety is at the heart of everything your practitioner does. The following assurances are BAcC standard:

  • BAcC members have completed a first-degree-level training or equivalent in traditional acupuncture including substantial elements of western anatomy, physiology and pathology
  • your BAcC acupuncturist will record all relevant details of your health condition and your medical history before treatment commences. Occasionally, based on this information, he or she may refer you to your GP for further investigation or medical treatment
  • your BAcC acupuncturist uses only pre-sterilised single-use needles which are safely disposed of after your treatment
  • all treatments are carried out in accordance with exemplary professional standards developed by the British Acupuncture Council and detailed in the BAcC Codes of Safe Practice and of Professional Conduct
  • the treatment room and all equipment must conform to standards laid out in the BAcC Code of Safe Practice and in nearly all cases have also been approved by local authority environmental health officers
  • BAcC members have full medical malpractice and public/product liability insurance cover.

The BAcC is aware of the practice of self-needling, especially for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and are taught limited but effective treatment to minimise the side-effects of the drug therapy. However, some places now appear to routinely hand out needles to patients for the purpose of self-treatment at home.

The BAcC has considerable reservations about the widespread use of self-needling unless patients are properly taught how to avoid injury by using equipment which is appropriate for self-treatment and how to maintain rigorous health and safety standards for their own protection and for the protection of their families.

Treatment from a properly trained and qualified practitioner is the best guarantee of safe and effective treatment.

Wha are the different style of acupuncture?

Acupuncture as practised by members of the BAcC is based on Chinese medicine principles that have been developed, researched and refined for over 2,500 years.

TCM acupuncture is holistic and not focused on isolated symptoms. It regards pain and illness, whether physical or mental, to be a sign the whole body is out of balance.

Different schools of traditional acupuncture vary slightly in needling style and diagnostic techniques but all concentrate on improving overall wellbeing by treating the root cause of an illness as well as relieving symptoms. All styles of acupuncture spring from the same Chinese medical roots

Within traditional acupuncture there are several specific techniques which can be used as stand-alone treatments. All BAcC members are familiar with these techniques and use them when appropriate, usually as part of an overall individualised treatment plan.

In addition to needling acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncture treatment may include other Chinese medicine techniques such as:

Moxibustion | The application of indirect heat using moxa (therapeutic herbs) and/or heat lamps to warm and relax muscles and energy meridians

Tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage) | Which helps to relieve muscle tension, stimulate acupressure points, open energy meridians and stimulate the flow of qi

Electro-acupuncture | A very low frequency electrical current (1Hz) is applied to the needle to increase blood flow, relax muscle tissue and clear stagnant Qi.

Cupping | Whereby glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant Qi.

Gua sha | A vigorous rubbing of the skin to increase blood flow and clear stagnant Qi.

Auricular Acupuncture | Uses acupuncture points located on the ear. Often used with other styles of acupuncture or on its own.

Other styles of acupuncture include:

Medical acupuncture is practised by osteopaths, doctors, and physiotherapists. Basic needling techniques are used within the framework of a western medical diagnosis to relieve symptoms such as pain and headache.

Trigger point acupuncture is practised by osteopaths and physiotherapists to treat musculo-skeletal pain.

Treatment FAQ’s

What to expect on your first treatment?

On first booking your appointment, you will be sent a short online intake form to complete. This takes just a few minutes so please complete it before you attend as this will save us on admin time on the day.

On the day, please arrive to the clinic 10 minutes early to give you time to relax, take a seat and drink one of our delectable herbal teas. You will be greeted by our lovely patient co-ordinator, Hannah, who will be there to answer any questions you may have before treatment or simply refill your cup 🙂

When it’s time for your treatment, Kimberley will come out and greet you, showing you in to the lovely, healing treatment room space. This is your opportuity to talk; delving in to your health history, family history, current picture of health, medications + supplements and health goals. This helps to establish a firm foundation for your prescribed treatment plan and diagnosis.

Kimberley then discusses with you your treatment options and proposed treatment plan, as you begin designing your health journey together.

After this, Kimberley will offer you a simple treatment to offer you a taste of what to expect with your acupuncture treatment, so you feel confident and comfortable moving forward. You may feel a little dizzy or little drowsy when standing so just take your time.

Generally speaking, most commonly used acupuncture points are on the lower leg/feet and lower arm/hands. However, you may be asked to remove trousers/long sleeved tops if they cannot be rolled up easily. We have plenty of cosy blankets though to keep you covered and warm if this is the case.

After treatment, make your way back to reception where Hannah will talk you through what’s next. She will take payment and book in any follow-ups that may be required. You’re encouraged to take a seat, have another sip of warm, comforting herbal tea before making your way home.

Please allow for 60 minutes for the whole consultation but an additional 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after to relax and rehydrate.

How much does treatment cost?

New Patient Treatment + Consultation | 60 minutes | £55

Follow-Up Treatments | 45 minutes | £45

How many sessions will I need?

That depends on your individual condition. At first your acupuncturist will normally ask to see you once or twice a week. You may start to feel benefits after the first or second treatment although long-standing and chronic conditions usually need more time to improve.

Once your health has stabilised you may need top-up treatments every few weeks. Traditional acupuncture is also very effective when used as preventive healthcare and many people like to go for a ‘retuning’ session at the change of each season throughout the year.

What does it feel like?

Most people find acupuncture to be very relaxing. Patients often describe the needle sensation as a tingling or dull ache. This is one of the signs the body’s qi, or vital energy, has been stimulated.

What do I need to do before treatment?

Please eat something within 2 hours of attending your appointment, to ensure your blood sugar levels are balanced.

You should also avoid alcohol and food or drink that colours your tongue such as coffee or strong tea.

It is a good idea to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the acupuncture points, especially those on your lower limbs, are easily accessible.

How will I feel after treatment?

You are likely to feel relaxed and calm. If the treatment has been particularly strong you may feel tired or drowsy and it is worth bearing this in mind if you plan to drive or use any other machinery soon afterwards.

Acupuncture has virtually no unpleasant side effects. Any that do occur are mild and self-correcting. Occasionally there may be minor bruising at the needle point or a short-term flare-up of your symptoms as your qi clears and resettles.

Should I tell my doctor if I'm having acupuncture?

If you are currently receiving treatment from your doctor it is sensible to mention that you plan to have acupuncture. Your acupuncturist will need to know about any medication you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.

Should I still take my prescribed medication while I'm having a course of acupuncture?

Yes. The acupuncture treatment may enable you to reduce or even stop taking some forms of medication but you should always consult your doctor regarding any change of prescription. DO NOT stop taking medication without professional guidance.

Does my private health insurance cover acupuncture treatment?

That depends upon your insurer. As the demand for complementary medicine increases more private health insurance companies are beginning to offer cover for traditional acupuncture. You should check your individual policy details.

A list of insurers that cover some part of treatment, include:

  • Aviva Healthcare
  • AXA PPP Healthcare
  • Beneden Health
  • Birmingham Hospital Saturday Fund
  • Bupa
  • CS Healthcare
  • The Exeter
  • General & Medical Healthcare
  • Healthshield
  • HSF
  • Westfield Health

Please visit the British Acupuncture Council website for further details and an exhaustative list.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any

further questions

about how acupuncture may be able to help you!

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