FAQs about acupuncture
Are there different kinds of acupuncture?
Yes. The most important distinction to make is between Traditional acupuncture and western medical acupuncture.
Western medical acupuncture is used mostly by physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and GP’s and is a modified form of Traditional acupuncture. Western medical practitioners train in very short courses in acupuncture (usually over a matter of a couple of weekends) and learn to treat a small group of mostly physical ailments.
Traditional Acupuncturists train over much greater lengths of time, usually in 3 – 4 year degrees and learn to focus more holistically, learning how to help the patient as well as just their symptoms.
Within traditional acupuncture there are two common styles of practice, TCM and Five element acupuncture. I trained at an integrated college learning both.
What does Acupuncture feel like?
Acupuncture needles are tapped into the body through a thin plastic tube which allows the needle to penetrate the skin quickly without sensation. Once the needle is inserted, it is gently manipulated to elicit a sensation that most patients describe as a mild aching or a dull, heavy, spreading feeling. This feeling is an indication that the needle is stimulating your nerve fibres. Sometimes needles are inserted and immediately withdrawn and sometimes they are retained for approximately 20 minutes. If the needles are retained for the duration of the treatment, most patients are unaware that they are inserted, and can lie comfortably and relax.
How will I feel after the treatment?
Most patients feel noticeably relaxed after treatment. This sense is often more pronounced after the first treatment. It is a good idea to have some quiet time after treatment, and if patients have driven to the clinic they are advised to relax in the reception area or go for a short walk before driving home.
Will I need to undress?
The most commonly treated areas are between the elbow and the wrist, and the knee and the ankle, so often patients can simply roll their trousers or sleeves up. When points elsewhere are used patients are always given a gown to change into and remain covered up and comfortable throughout.
How much Acupuncture will I need?
This depends greatly upon the client and the condition for which they are seeking treatment to help. Most clients are advised to plan for an initial course of six once weekly treatments but this can be adjusted accordingly. I would expect many people to notice considerable changes from the period between their initial consultation and their 6th treatment, with changes beginning after the first – second treatment. In very acute or painful conditions it may be necessary to increase the frequency of treatment from once a week.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture provided by a fully trained practitioner using proper procedure is one of the safest medical treatments available. Two surveys conducted independently in the British Medical Journal in 2001 concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. Each needle is individually wrapped in sterile packaging and is used only once and then disposed of to ensure the highest levels of hygiene and safety.
Traditional acupuncturists are regulated in the UK by The British Acupuncture Council, of which I am a member. The British Acupuncture Council ensures the highest standards of training and ongoing development.
How does Acupuncture work and is there evidence?
The British Acupuncture Council’s website is an excellent and extensive resource on current evidence about acupuncture effects and mechanisms, you can find that here: www.acupuncture.org.uk
The Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARRC) is the research division of The British Acupuncture Council and they produce a number of fact sheets about the use of acupuncture in various conditions. Those fact sheets can also be found through The British Acupuncture Council’s website.
How much does treatment cost?
The initial 1.5 hour consultation (which includes the first treatment) is charged at £85. Each 45 minute treatment thereafter is charged at £55.
Can I claim treatment back on my health insurance?
Many insurance policies do cover treatment with a Traditional Acupuncturist but different companies vary in their policies and criteria. It is best to check with your insurer first before commencing treatment if you are intending on claiming the money back.
What’s your background?
I began my studies in Chinese medicine in 1998 and initially trained as a Shiatsu practitioner. Shiatsu is a style of Japanese bodywork/massage based on Chinese medical theory. From there I went on to complete a diploma in Tui-na (Chinese medical massage) at the University of Westminster before going on to complete my degree in Acupuncture at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Reading. I subsequently went on to complete an extensive training in Hypnotherapy and in Counselling.
I now operate an acupuncture, hypnotherapy and counselling practice from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire.