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There are many treatments available for treating musculo-skeletal pain (some examples are deep tissue massage, cortisone injections, PRP, shockwave therapy, medical laser therapy). Medical Acupuncture is yet another treatment option, and it provides an effective and often less painful form of treating musculo-skeletal pain.
What is Medical Acupuncture and how does it work?
Following a medical diagnosis, Medical Acupuncture uses fine acupuncture needles to influence the physiology of the body according to a scientific view. Medical Acupuncture can work via 5 mechanisms – 4 of which involve the nervous system and one which involves the muscles.
Local effects – Medical Acupuncture stimulates nerve fibres in skin and muscle, increasing local blood flow, promoting local tissue healing.
Segmental Analgesia – Medical Acupuncture reduces pain in the segment where the needles are inserted.
Extrasegmental Analgesia – Action potentials produced by the acupuncture needle can travel from the needle site up to the brain, so can have an effect that extends to the whole body, dulling pain throughout the body.
Central Regulatory Effects – Once reaching the midbrain, the action potentials can influence other parts of the Central Nervous System, often having a calming effect and improving well-being.
Myofascial Trigger Points - Once musculoskeletal pain becomes chronic, it is often associated with tender ‘trigger’ points. Trigger points cause the muscles to become shorter and weaker, and as a result restrict movement in the joints as well. Medical Acupuncture inactivates myofascial trigger points – this component of Medical Acupuncture is called Dry Needling.
So is Medical Acupuncture and Dry Needling the same?
Dry needling is becoming more commonly used by Physiotherapists and some Podiatrists. Dry needling is only 1 component of Medical Acupuncture. Dry needling involves locating and needling myofascial trigger points over or near the affected area. Medical Acupuncture involves needling myofascial trigger points as well as acupuncture points to produce an effect on the muscles but also the nervous system. I have been using dry needling for a number of years in my clinic, but since doing further study and incorporating the Medical Acupuncture principles, I am achieving much more profound patient results, especially with regards to local tissue healing.
How does Medical Acupuncture differ to Traditional Chinese Acupuncture?
A traditional Chinese Acupuncturist makes a diagnosis in terms of a disturbance in the body’s balance, and attempts to correct the body’s balance or ‘qi’ by the use of needles. Western medical acupuncture is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine. While Medical Acupuncture has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, its practitioners no longer adhere to concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of ‘qi’. Medical Acupuncture acts mainly by stimulating the nervous system to assist with healing of musculoskeletal pain.
Conditions treated with Medical Acupuncture at Foundation Podiatry
- Plantar Fasciopathy (Heel pain)
- Forefoot pain (Morton’s Neuroma, intermetatarsal bursitis, capsulitis)
- Calf strain, Shin pain, Achilles tendon pain
- Post-ankle sprain
- Knee, leg and hip pain
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Breaking down scar tissue (especially post-surgery scars)
Medical Acupuncture and adjunct treatments at Foundation Podiatry
At Foundation Podiatry we often use Medical Acupuncture in conjunction with other therapies such as taping and Low Level Laser Therapy. Laser therapy can be applied to acupuncture points instead of inserting an acupuncture needle, and can also be applied beside an acupuncture needle to enhance the benefits of the acupuncture and also reduce the needle time. The number of Medical Acupuncture appointments varies depending on the individual, the injury, whether it is acute or chronic etc. Improvements in symptoms however is usually noticed between 1- 4 appointments.
Are you suffering from foot pain? Want to know learn more about Medical Acupuncture and other treatment options? Make an appointment with one of our experienced Podiatrists.