Acupuncture is viewed by physiotherapists as complementary rather than an alternative therapy and may be offered to you as part of your rehabilitation and pain management programme. Acupuncture is one of a number of different types of treatments physiotherapists can offer. Often physiotherapists will use acupuncture alongside treatments such as exercise, joint mobilisation and general rehabilitation.
Recent research is now supporting the use of acupuncture, particularly in the management of pain, suggesting that it is effective in the treatment of low back pain, neck pain and osteoarthritis. Treatment will involve the use of sterile, single use needles. The needles are fine (a lot finer than an injection needle) and are inserted quickly through the skin and into the tissues.
Acupuncture needling should not be painful although some people do experience a pinprick or scratch like sensation. The needles can be in place for as little as a few seconds but more commonly will be in place for 10–30 minutes. Needles may be placed around the painful area, away from it in the hands or feet or even on the opposite side of the body.