Acupuncture is one of the many skills employed within physiotherapy as part of a combined approach to the management of pain and inflammation.


The origins of acupuncture date back as far as 1000 years BC in China and forms part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM acupuncture is used to restore the balance of the body’s natural energy flow (Qi). Pain and ill-health are regarded as symptoms due to a disturbance in this flow of energy and carefully placed needles can stimulate a return to a normal energy balance.

Current use

Rigorous scientific research over the last 30 years or more has shown that acupuncture can reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin (which promotes sleep), serotonin (to promote well-being) and others. In addition, acupuncture can be used help to reduce muscle tension; a common finding in those suffering with back or neck pain, for example. By reducing muscle tension and relieving pain this can assist in restoring normal joint movement and muscle flexibility thereby improving normal function; the main aim of physiotherapy intervention.
This knowledge has assisted in acupuncture being considered a conventional treatment and not the alternative treatment it once was. It is using this evidence that acupuncture is now widely used within physiotherapy to help promote tissue repair, healing, recovery and quality of life. 

What’s involved?

Acupuncture consists of using very fine, single-use, pre-sterilised needles of varying lengths, depending on the area to be treated. The number of needles used is determined by the treating practitioner but will often include needle placement around the area of pain as well as some placed further away, such as the hands or feet. Usually a course of treatment is recommended as one or two sessions is often not sufficient to achieve pain relief but this will be explained by the therapist on assessment.
Acupuncture is not 'torture' and is not like having multiple injections as the needles are very fine. Most patients find it a very relaxing treatment and it can be very effective at times when a hands-on approach would not be tolerated due to pain.