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Acupuncture needle

The difference between Western Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture.

Acupuncture is the art of inserting very fine needles into the skin at differing depths. It is used as a treatment modality for a variety of ailments. 

But what do the different types of acupuncture do?

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture have been used for thousands of years. In Chinese medicine the practitioner believes that the yin and yang life force of the body (qi) pronounced chi is the key to maintaining health. By balancing the meridian chi lines they can treat pain and illness and promote health within the person. Acupuncture theory believes that this qi moves throughout the body along these 12 main channels known as meridians. They each represent the major organs and functions of the body. These meridians however do not follow the exact pathways of nerves or blood flow. It can be complemented and supported by use of massage, diet, herbs and heat therapy or moxibustion.

Western medical acupuncture is an adaption of traditional Chinese acupuncture. The practitioners steer away from the premise of yin and yang and moving chi around the body and it uses the principles of evidence based medicine. As such It sits in the category of conventional medicine rather than alternative medicine. Western medical acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system and creating an active response and alteration of nerve activity. We know that acupuncture stimulates the release of natural pain killing chemicals within your body. Acupuncture also causes the release of other natural substances in your body which promote healing and aid recovery.In WMA the practitioner will pay less attention than classical acupuncturists to choosing one point over another, but more to the area of pain or injury, and the function of the nerves and muscles.

It is used by practitioners as a pain reliever, to treat myofascial trigger points, andmusculoskeletal pain, post-operative pain and nausea. 

Practitioners of Western medical acupuncture are doctors, osteopaths, physios, chiropractors who have undertaken further and specific studies to specialise in using needles. It is sometimes referred to as Dry Needling. 

What if I have needle phobia? 

Unlike needles you may see at the doctors surgery for blood tests, acupuncture needles are tiny, solid, hair-thin needles. The practitioner will generally insert them no more than a half-inch to an inch depending on the type of treatment being delivered. It is normal to feel a slight prick as the needle is inserted. After that you may feel a warm, heavy sensation around the needle this is usually quite pleasant.

If you are interested but unsure please give us a call and we can discuss how it may help you.


White, A. Western medical acupuncture: A definition. Acupunct Med. 2009

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