Acupuncture is a physical modality that has a clinical history reaching back thousands of years. Much of its history and development is considered to have taken place in China over the last 2000 years but some evidence suggests even earlier European origins.Acupuncture itself entails the insertion of a number of very small, fine needles into the soft tissues of the body, often in the region of an individual’s pain. Whilst Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) theory seeks to discuss esoteric concepts such as Qi, Yin and Yang and Meridian theory, Western Medical Acupuncture relies on the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture being rooted in neurophysiological processes and actions. Western Medical Acupuncture’s analgesic mechanism is based on the gate control theory proposed by Ron Melzak and Patrick Wall in 1962. This neural mechanism of acupuncture analgesia proposes that the insertion of the acupuncture needles into specific points on the body stimulate sensory nerve fibres which trigger responses within the spinal cord and brain that in turn generate an analgesic effect.
Whilst we do discuss TCA history, theory and concepts, Acupuncture Training Providers (ATP) specialise in the delivery of acupuncture training for Chartered Physiotherapists based on a neurophysiological underpinning.
In the UK acupuncture is considered to be a standard modality within physiotherapy and is recognised as an integral part of clinic practice in both NHS and private sector. There are approximately 6000 Chartered Physiotherapists who are members of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) in the UK who regularly practice acupuncture clinically. Whilst acupuncture can be used as a stand alone treatment, its nature as it relates to disease management, often means that acupuncture itself is more often used in its most effective form, as an adjunctive treatment integrated into a broader management plan. Many physical conditions are not considered to be isolated and the nature of the human condition is that all illnesses or injuries will cause other affects throughout the body. In light of this acupuncture that is performed by Chartered Physiotherapists is often not delivered as a stand-alone modality but integrated with other physical modalities as they are in a unique position of being able to combine acupuncture with other approaches such as exercise, manipulation and mobilisation techniques.