Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture has been widely used in the world of physiotherapy for a number of years and has been recognised as an effective treatment technique.  Acupuncture is often used as an adjunct to your physiotherapy treatment and has been shown to be an effective way to promote natural healing, reduce pain and improve function for many different injuries and aliments.  It has been used to help treat headaches, tennis elbow, shoulder injuries, acute injuries and haematomas to name a few.

There are several different approaches to acupuncture treatment with the most common practices within physiotherapy being:

    • Western medicine/musculoskeletal treatment
    • Traditional Chinese medicine treatment
    • Dry needling or trigger point release acupuncture

Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine follow channels that run throughout your body that are related to the body’s internal organs.  Along the channels there are different acupuncture points with specific functions.

Western or musculoskeletal 

This approach to acupuncture generally tends to treat the specific injury and surrounding areas.  Scientifically it is thought that the acupuncture needle stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals that influence muscles, spinal cord and brain and then in turn influence the body’s response to these chemicals.  If you think of a computer where sometimes the messages aren’t getting through, the acupuncture needle and point stimulate the messages to take another path or to reboot the way they are sending these messages.

Traditional Chinese medicine 

Is a more holistic health approach, taking in the whole being rather than perhaps just the injury site. Chinese medicine refers to your body’s Qi, which flows through the channels within the body and has very close links to your internal organs.  For normal health it’s important to maintain a relative balance of the Qi within the body. Through illness, injury or other stressors, this system can become imbalanced and creates disruption to the flow of Qi.  Stimulating specific channels and acupuncture points can help to restore relative balance within the body, also influencing overall health and wellbeing.

Typically in both approaches, the needles are left to sit in the tissues for a period of between 10-20 minutes and sometimes longer depending on the required response.

Dry needling or trigger point needling

This is a much quicker short term needling technique directed at muscles, myofascial trigger points, periosteum and connective tissues. The acupuncture needle is placed into the soft tissue with the aim to produce a twitching sensation which can reproduce symptoms.  Often there can be more than one trigger point within soft tissues and more than one structure can be needled in one session.  Due to the rapid response of the body after treatment, the application of heat, cold and stretching after release work can help reduce post treatment soreness and restore length to that tissue.  The sensation of trigger point acupuncture can take people a little by surprise on the first treatment, but it’s a very effective way of releasing tension and restoring length and function to the muscle.

At Ponsonby Physio our team use both the Western musculoskeletal and dry needling approach.  Where appropriate treatment may be covered by ACC.

Please feel free to contact us for more information on any of the acupuncture techniques mentioned.


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