The finer points of physiotherapy

Acupuncture is a form healing in which fine, sterile needles are inserted into the body at carefully selected points to stimulate the body’s own healing process. The practice was pioneered by the Chinese 2000 years ago, and is often seen as an “alternative” therapy, but today many of its principles have been proven via clinical trials and it is considered to be a legitimate part of modern medicine.

The Traditional Perspective

From the traditional Chinese perspective, acupuncture balances the body, mind and spirit by stimulating the body’s own healing process via needles inserted at carefully selected points on the body. These points lie on pairs of channels that cover the body and through which “qi”(pronounced “chee” flows).

Traditional Chinese Medicine likens these channels to the rivers of China, which provide a communication and nourishment system for the whole body. Qi is the ‘vital life force’ of the body. It keeps the blood circulating, warms the body, fights disease and keeps our minds and emotions free and uncluttered.

Disease occurs when there is disruption to the balanced flow of qi within the body, or if the body doesn’t have strength the resist external forces which in turn change the flow of qi. The aim of acupuncture is to remove any imbalances or obstructions within the body and to encourage the qi to floe smoothly.

The Western Scientific Perspective

From a western scientific point of view acupuncture has been shown in research to have local and whole body effects. The simplest local effect is that acupuncture increases local blood flow to an area. This works to treat knots or “trigger points” in muscles that are overworked or weak.

A trigger point is an area of muscle that has grown tighter and more contracted, some much so that blood can’t normal flow in an out of this area anymore and by-products such as lactic acid build up in it. This unhealthy tissue continues in a cycle of tightening. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the area, the resulting increased blood flow flushes out by-products and allows the muscle tissues to return to a healthy state.

Other more complex effects have been shown in a desensitization of the affected area of the spinal cord and of the brain which is effective in reducing pain in clients that have been injured from sometime, and a change in hormone levels which leads to relaxation, better sleep and a relaxation of muscle spasm.

Common Questions

We’ve tried to answer a few of the most common ones below, but if we’ve missed any, or you’d like to know more, please feel to call us on 03 409 0078 or email healme@thestudioqueenstown.co.nz.

Will it hurt? Acupuncture needles differ from hypodermic needles in that they are not designed to transport fluid so can be made much finer – in fact you can fit an acupuncture needle inside some hypodermic needles. So typically they’re almost painless.

Although you may feel a pin prick during insertion we ensure you’re comfortable at all times. Ideally, you will feel a cramping, heaviness or “electric” sensation either around the needle or travelling up or down your body from the needle.

What can be treated? Acupuncture can be used to treat many of the medical problems that you might see your doctor for. These include:

  • Injuries e.g. sprains, bruising, tendonopathy
  • Environmental problems e.g. asthma, allergies
  • Emotional disorders e.g. anxiety, insomnia, depression’
  • Ongoing pain e.g. long term neck or back pain

What are your qualifications? We are very proud to say that if you have acupuncture at The Studio it will be with a fully qualified acupuncture physiotherapist. All of our physiotherapists hold post-graduate qualifications in acupuncture.

Who can be treated? There is no age limit for treatment; however usually those under the age of 15 years are more comfortable with acupressure, cupping and other treatments that don’t involve needles. Please let your practitioner know if you are pregnant (or think you may be pregnant) as this will affect your treatment.

What types of treatment are there? Traditional Chinese Medicine involves a vast array of different treatments, in our clinic we choose just to use a few of them; acupressure, acupuncture and cupping. Generally between two and ten needles (‘ points’) are inserted in each treatment, depending on the type of condition being treated.

How many treatments will I need? The number of treatments varies according to your injury and personal rehabilitation plan. Between two and ten treatments are common for most soft tissue injuries.

Are there any side effects? Adverse effects are quite unusual. You may feel calm or sleepy following treatment. If this occurs we are happy to make you a cup of tea to revive you so you feel safe to drive. Bruising at the needle site is uncommon, but may occur. Rare accidents such as puncturing an internal organ (e.g. the lung) have been recorded, but are exceedingly rare. Of course any possible side effects are minimised by seeing a qualified, experienced therapist.