Frequently Asked Questions
What can acupuncture help with?
Traditional acupuncture's greatest strength is that it treats each patient individually. There are potentially a great many conditions that acupuncture can help with. Information on specific conditions can be found on this website under patient information. If there is a condition that is not listed please contact me for further information on how acupuncture may help you.
Acupuncture is known for its treatment of pain but also has been used to treat conditions other than pain.
Does it hurt?
This is by far the most common question that I get asked and a lot of people are put off by acupuncture due to their fear of needles. To start with most people's experience of needles is either when they have an injection such as the flu jab or have blood taken. This type of needle is known as a hypodermic needle and is much thicker than an acupuncture needle. A hypodermic needle is designed to inject fluid into the body or remove blood/fluid from the body, it is hollow and is generally not the most pleasant of experiences.
In comparison, acupuncture needles are inserted just below the skin to lightly stimulate acupuncture points (about 3-6mm). They are not hollow like hypodermic needles but fine and solid designed to glide through the skin. Acupuncture needles are sterile one-off disposable needles. The most common needle used is one inch .22 millimeters gauge (the gauge is the diameter).
If acupuncture was extremely painful there is no way it would still be around because no one in their right mind would keep coming back for more treatment.
Is it safe?
The needles used are single-use, sterile, and disposable. Responses to treatment can sometimes include tiredness or mild dizziness, and very occasionally minor bruising may occur. However, all such reactions are short-lived.
I practice to a strict code of safety and am a member of the British Acupuncture Council. All needles are one-off pre-sterilized, individually packaged, and disposable. All needles are used once then incinerated. My three and half year training in acupuncture ensures a high degree of anatomical knowledge ensuring safe insertion. I am obviously insured to practice.
What does it feel like?
Most people feel a slight sensation as the needle is inserted. You will generally feel a dull ache, tingling or “pull” once the acupuncture point has been stimulated. This generally puzzles people who have not had acupuncture before but once you have experienced the sensation it will make sense. Most people enjoy having treatment, some even doze off whilst the needles are in and a large percentage feel relaxed after having treatment
Where are the needles placed?
Most of the acupuncture points are located between the elbow & hand, and the knee & foot. Other points may be selected near the site of pain. Points are also selected based on known effects and clinical experience gathered over thousands of years.
How many needles will you use?
This does vary from person to person but generally somewhere between 4 to 15. The needles vary in length but the most common needle is one inch long and .22 gauge (the gauge is the diameter and so .22 of a millimeter).
How long are the needles left in?
Again this varies. Some needles are left in between 15 and 35 minutes. Other needles are quickly inserted and withdrawn to stimulate certain acupuncture points lasting a few seconds.
Will I need to undress?
Most of the acupuncture points are located between the elbow & hand, and the knee & foot. Therefore, for a lot of conditions, it is only necessary to roll up trousers & shirtsleeves. Of course, there are times when I will need to access other parts of your body but I will always get your verbal consent when treating more areas, and I will explain what I am going to do beforehand.
Do I have to believe in it for it to work?
Acupuncture works whether you believe in it or not. In fact, many people come to acupuncture as a last resort or who are completely sceptical and still have good results. Acupuncture is also routinely used on animals to treat medical conditions who to my knowledge have no real concept of acupuncture working or not working.
I have had acupuncture from my GP, physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor. Is this the same as the type of acupuncture you practice?
Yes and no.
The acupuncture as practiced by your GP, physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor is known as medical/western acupuncture or dry needling. This style of acupuncture is becoming commonplace due to many discovering its amazing benefits. Their training is generally a lot shorter (often just a weekend course) compared to a traditionally trained acupuncture which will be to degree level.
Their training is a lot shorter essentially because they have excellent anatomical knowledge and because they do not train in Chinese medical theory. Frequently treatment will be aimed at relieving myofascial trigger points (painful points on the body) and not stimulating acupuncture points. I have extensive training in this type of acupuncture as it does yield some impressive results but I have many other skills at my disposal other than just this one technique.
Many Western doctors accept that acupuncture treatment does work in a wide range of conditions and for a variety of patients. However modern medical knowledge makes it very hard for Western doctors to accept the teachings of Traditional Chinese medicine - which to many Western doctors do not fit with our modern understanding of how the body works.
On the other hand, there is a great deal of Western scientific research into pain, which demonstrates how acupuncture might work.
In comparison, traditional acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for centuries and believe that health is dependent on a person qi.
Each patient is unique; two people with the same western diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments. The underlying principle of treatment is that illness and pain occur when the body's qi, or vital energy, cannot flow freely. There can be many reasons for this; emotional and physical stress, poor nutrition, infection or injury are among the most common. By inserting ultra-fine sterile needles into specific acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncturist seeks to re-establish the free flow of qi to restore balance and trigger the body's natural healing response.
What are your qualifications?
I hold a BSc in acupuncture and trained for three and a half years. In addition, prior to training as an acupuncturist, I worked as a sports therapist since 2004 and update my skills on a regular basis. I am currently a member of the Bristol Acupuncture Council and adhere to a strict code of conduct.
How many treatments will I need?
Again this varies depending on the condition. Generally, patients come for a series of weekly treatments to begin with and then if needed subsequent treatments. I would, therefore, say there should be some improvement between 4 to 6 treatments which are received over a 1 to 2 month period. Chronic/ long term conditions obviously take longer but frequent acupuncture has an accumulative effect. My intention is to get you back to optimal health as quickly as possible. Some people choose to have regular acupuncture to maintain good health.
Can I claim acupuncture treatment on my medical insurance?
Some insurance companies do accept acupuncture as a valid form of healthcare. Please contact your insurance provider to request details of your scheme. Typically an authorization number must be obtained from your insurance provider and the number of treatments you qualify for discussed with your insurance provider before you begin treatment.
I am registered with Pruhealth and Simply Health as a registered health care provider.
Nothing has helped me so far. Why would acupuncture be any different?
Acupuncture can be beneficial for many health complaints, please contact me directly to answer questions on specific conditions.
You’re not Chinese does that matter?
Acupuncture can be learned like any other skills so no it does not matter that I’m not Chinese. It is also quite useful to have a western practitioner as they can discuss their findings in a language you can understand.
Should my doctor know?
It is not a requirement for treatment to tell your doctor that you are having acupuncture treatment but it is a good idea to keep your GP informed. If you have been prescribed medication we recommend you tell your doctor that you are planning to have acupuncture. Do not stop taking your medication. You should always tell your acupuncturist about any medication and supplements you are taking as this may affect your response to the acupuncture treatment.
BAcC acupuncturists are trained to recognize potentially serious underlying health conditions and may refer you to your GP if they consider it appropriate. Acupuncture is not an alternative to seeking proper medical treatment, diagnosis, and care.
How much will it cost?
The initial consultation will cost £45 and last for an hour and a half. Subsequent sessions will last between 45 and 60 minutes and cost £35.
Where do you work from?
I work from 2 locations in Bristol and have a range of appointments available. Click here for further details and to book an appointment
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