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What is acupunture?
Acupuncture is a form of therapy in which fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body. This therapy originated in China more than two thousand years ago.

According to traditional Chinese theory, acupuncture works by rebalancing the flow of energy in the body. Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes a complex system of ‘meridians’ or energy channels in the body. Symptoms of illness, such as pain, are regarded as a disturbance of energy flow. The insertion of needles at various carefully selected points on the meridians is believed to restore the smooth flow of energy and re-
establish harmony in the body.
In traditional Chinese acupuncture, an individualized ‘prescription’ of points is selected for each patient, according to their unique pattern of energy disturbance.

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What happens during treatment?
During treatment, fine needles are inserted through the skin and left in position, either briefly or for up to half an hour.  This is not usually painful, but may give rise to a mild aching sensation just after the needles are inserted.

Many people notice a pleasant feeling of relaxation and well-being during treatment, and the quality of sleep often improves following acupuncture.

What sorts of conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, and should be considered particularly for the following.

  • All types of painful conditions
  • Muscle and joint problems, including painful muscles, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow
  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, and following chemotherapy
  • Hay fever, rhinitis, recurrent sinusitis, asthma
  • Painful periods, irregular periods, infertility
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and constipation
  • Irritable bladder
  • Dry eyes and saliva deficiency

How many treatments are needed?
The response to acupuncture tends to become stronger with each treatment. This cumulative effect means that several treatments are usually needed before a clear and lasting benefit is seen. An initial trial of six treatments at weekly intervals is appropriate for most conditions. If no benefit is seen after this, then further treatments are unlikely to help. In those who do respond, the improvement can usually be maintained and strengthened with further more widely spaced ‘top-up’ treatments.

Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is generally very safe. Serious side effects are very rare, less than one per 10,000 treatments. The commonest side effect is drowsiness after treatment, affecting about one in five people. Minor bleeding or bruising occurs after acupuncture in about 3% of treatments. Rarer side effects include pain during treatment, temporary worsening of symptoms, and fainting.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking an anticoagulant like Warfarin, acupuncture is still safe as long as certain acupuncture points are avoided.

Single-use, sterile, disposable needles are used for every treatment.

The Tonbridge Clinic

Scientific research
During the last few decades there has been a rapid growth in scientific research into acupuncture. The mechanisms of acupuncture pain relief are now fairly well understood. We know that acupuncture enhances the release of natural painkillers in the body (endorphins) and also balances organ function through the autonomic nervous system, regulates the immune system, suppresses allergic reactions, and improves wound healing. In fact, the scientific evidence for acupuncture is stronger than for many conventional treatments.

In the last few years, leading medical journals, including the Lancet and the British Medical Journal, have published major clinical trials of acupuncture, which prove that it is an effective treatment for recurrent headaches, chronic back pain and osteoarthritis of the knee.

Just Ears is an external service that operate out of The Tonbridge Clinic. Please see their website for more info.
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