Medical Acupuncture

Cartoon by Lenny Wos

Advanced Medical Acupuncture

I am trained in medical acupuncture, and I use acupuncture as an adjunct to my osteopathic skills. Where I feel acupuncture would be appropriate, I discuss it with my patients to obtain informed consent – the choice is always the patient’s!

I found that acupuncture is useful to effect muscle relaxation, and can often do so without the soreness that may accompany soft tissue techniques. Typically I use four or more sterile ultra-fine needles, and I may leave them in the body for a few minutes. Once removed, I may then use other manual techniques to encourage the tissue changes desired.

I usually use electroacupuncture where small electrical currents travel from one needle to another, stimulating nerves and muscles. Electroacupuncture can contribute to the release of neurotransmitters, chemicals involved in signalling from nerve cells, and trigger pain relief and other recovery mechanisms (Irnich 2002).

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of alternative medicine. It involves insertion of fine needles through the skin at certain points on the body surface for a therapeutic effect. The term acupuncture derives from two latin roots, acus - meaning needle, and puncture, meaning to puncture (Pyne and Shenker 2008).

The advantages of using acupuncture are well documented and include an immediate reduction in local, referred and widespread pain, restoration of range of motion and muscle activation patterns, and normalisation of the immediate chemical environment of active myofascial trigger points (Dommerholt 2011).

Medical acupuncture does not involve the concepts of qi, yin, yang or meridians, and claims to be part of conventional medicine. Although the technique is an adaptation of traditional Chinese medicine, it has its own theoretical concepts, terminology, needling procedure and therapeutic application (Gyer et al, 2016).

The neurophysiological mechanisms of acupuncture in pain control are overly complex and involve peripheral, segmental and central neural networks (Gyer et al, 2016).

Medical acupuncture is based on the current understanding of human anatomy, physiology and pathology and the principles of evidence-based medicine.  The practice involve the inception of dry needles into trigger points to produce a clinical effect, alleviate musculoskeletal pain including myofascial pain syndromes (Gyer et al, 2016).


Dommerholt J (2011) “Dry needling - peripheral and central considerations.” Journal of manual and manipulative therapy 14, 4, E70 - E87.

Gyer G, Michael J, Tolson B (2016) “Dry needling for manual therapists.” Saging Dragon, PA 19106, USA.

Irnich D, Winklmeier S, Beyer A, Peter K. (2002) "Electric stimulation acupuncture in peripheral neuropathic pain syndromes. Clinical pilot study on analgesic effectiveness" 

Pyne D. and Shenker N.G. (2008) “Demystifying acupuncture.” Rheumatology 47, 8, 1132 - 1136.