What is the difference between Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Acupuncture?

Towards the end of last year, we were delighted to welcome Dr Dong and Carolyn into the team here at Physical Balance, both with many years’ experience in Traditional Acupuncture.


Many of you who have visited our Osteopath team over the years will probably have experienced acupuncture as part of your treatment, so it poses the question, ‘What is the difference between Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Acupuncture?’. Here to answer this for us are Alex Millar, Director and Osteopath, and Dr Dong, Acupuncturist:


In simple terms, Traditional Chinese acupuncture is based on the belief that it can restore the flow of Qi, the bodies energy flow, whilst medical acupuncture, or sometimes referred to as western medical acupuncture, uses anatomy and physiology and is based very much on relieving pain and muscle tensions. Both very much have the patient at the forefront and work to achieve the same results, relief from symptoms or a condition itself.


The ancient healing art of acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been practiced in China and the Far East for thousands of years. It is a natural, safe, and effective form of healthcare, used to alleviate and help prevent a wide range of conditions, in people of all ages.


It works by stimulating the body’s healing responses or immune system with the painless insertion of fine needles on acupuncture meridian points. The needles used in acupuncture are so fine that most people don’t often feel them being inserted. It is normal to feel a mild tingle or dull ache as the acupuncturist adjusts the needle to direct qi and many people feel deeply relaxed during the treatment.


In the aim of restoring the flow of vital energy, Acupuncture promotes healing and revitalisation in the body. This facilitates and supports the body's innate ability to heal itself and to regulate and maintain optimal levels of wellbeing.


With Traditional Acupuncture, your integrated TCM and Five Element Acupuncture practitioner will take a very detailed health history, and, in each session, you will get an opportunity to talk about your emotions and life stresses. You will feel deeply listened to, heard, and fully assessed. Your practitioner will also take your pulse, look at your tongue, assess your tone of voice and thereafter build a treatment plan created to your unique constitution. Although a single treatment can have a very positive effect a course of Acupuncture treatment is recommended to get the most benefit over a period of time.


Traditional Acupuncture can have an effect on the following conditions:

  • ​Stress and anxiety

  • Tiredness and sleep issues

  • Respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis and hayfever

  • Digestive Disorders including IBS, Gastric Pain, Heartburn, and reflux

  • Women’s Health including endometriosis, infertility, pregnancy support, and menopause

  • Neurological Problems such as headaches, migraines and tinnitus


In recent years, the effects of acupuncture treatment have been systematically refined and verified by modern scientific research. With medical acupuncture, The British Medical Acupuncture Society along with worldwide partners, have subsequently adapted these methods to complement modern medicine using knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and the principles of evidence-based medicine.


Western medical acupuncture has become an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture and is a technique used as one part of the overall treatment process. Medical acupuncture is used mainly to stimulate the nervous system which has been shown to modulate / reduce pain.


Acupuncture in this method is principally used by manual therapists including Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, GPs and Sports Massage Therapists. It is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, including myofascial trigger point pain and is constantly evolving as a modality based on research. Current guidelines suggest it is highly effective in the treatment of lower back pain, headaches and muscle strains.


Medical Acupuncture can help in providing short-term [or some] relief of:

  • Neck pain or chronic neck pain

  • Chronic low back pain

  • Tension type headaches and migraines

  • Temporomandibular (TMD/TMJ) pain

  • Temporary adjunctive treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain


For more information, visit the 'Our Services' section of our website, and if you would like to make a booking please call 01256 770022 or click here

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