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Acupunc­ture is par t of Chi­nese medicine in­volv­ing fine nee­dles which are inser ted at par tic­u­lar acupunc­ture points over the body.

Acupunc­ture is avail­able on the NHS for some con­di­tions and is of­ten used by phys­io­ther­a­pists, or in pain clin­ics.

Tra­di­tional Chi­nese acupunc­ture is based on the idea that Qi, or en­ergy, flows through the body, and if the en­ergy be­comes blocked it causes ill­ness. Acupunc­ture aims to help re­store the flow of Qi around the body to cure dis­ease.

West­ern med­i­cal acupunc­ture uses the same tech­niques but is based on the idea that the use of nee­dles stim­u­late ner ves in the skin and mus­cles, and re­sult in the pro­duc­tion of en­dor­phins and other sub­stances to act as pain re­lief.

Acupunc­tur­ists use the tech­nique to treat many health con­di­tions, from gy­nae­co­log­i­cal prob­lems to di­ges­tive ones. How­ever West­ern med­i­cal acupunc­ture is gen­er­ally used to treat headaches and chronic pain from var­i­ous con­di­tions and is avail­able on the NHS in some places. It in­volves inser ting ster­ile, sin­gle-use, dis­pos­able nee­dles into par tic­u­lar points of the body for a pe­riod of time. Some­times a small elec­tric cur­rent is used on the nee­dles (elec­troacupunc­ture).

It is gen­er­ally safe, though side ef­fects can in­clude bruis­ing, pain, bleed­ing, nau­sea and feel­ing faint.

As al­ways, if you are con­sid­er­ing acupunc­ture do please tell your GP, es­pe­cially if you have a con­di­tion or take med­i­ca­tion which af fects your blood’s abil­ity to clot, such as an­ti­co­ag­u­lants.

A treat­ment where East and West meet

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