Osteopathic healthcare and sports injury clinic



What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment which can relieve symptoms of some physical and psychological conditions and may encourage the patient's body to heal and repair itself, if it is able to do so.

Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the body's release of natural painkillers - endorphin and serotonin - in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received.

But acupuncture does much more than reduce pain, and has a beneficial effect on general health. Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.

Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body's systems - the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.

  • Acupuncture can be effective in a wide range of painful conditions and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain; eg back, shoulder, knee, neck and leg pain.
  • It has been successfully used to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains and various kinds of rheumatic and arthritic joint pain.


Battlefield Acupuncture for pain management

Acupuncture is rapidly turning into a mainstream form of treatment. Take Afghanistan where highly trained doctors – that is, in both western and Asian medicine – use acupuncture on a regular basis. Indeed the term battlefield acupuncture was coined by one Dr. Richard C. Niemtzow, a US Air Force colonel and great believer in the treatment.

Basically, it’s all about needles in the ear, but in very specific places and inserted as fast as possible in one ear at a time.

The treatment is considered far more efficient than morphine or other anaesthetising drugs because the wounded soldier is able to move without help. Even better, depending on the nature of the wound, the pain relief can last for minutes, hours, days, weeks or even months. Side effects, according to military studies, are extremely rare.

And of course what works in combat also works in the suburban medical centre, a different kind of battlefield. Specialists trained in battlefield acupuncture routinely treat civilian patients effectively for a variety of complaints such as headaches, back pain and other painful musculo-skeletal problems, sometimes with just one needle.


Simon is a member of The British Medical Acupuncture Society