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What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical Acupuncture is an interpretation of the Traditional Chinese Acupuncture approach and is now used by chartered physiotherapists, doctors, sports physicians and pain management consultants throughout the world. The key difference when using medical acupuncture is that a western medical diagnosis is made followed by the use of acupuncture as a treatment technique if indicated.

Our scientific understanding of how acupuncture affects the body's neurophysiology allows the use of medical acupuncture to modulate pain and help assist the body's own healing and repair mechanisms.

In physiotherapy, the use of medical acupuncture to relieve pain, reduce muscle tension, deactivate myofascial trigger points as well as promoting tissue healing is very useful. Medical acupuncture can be used alongside other physiotherapy techniques such as manual joint and soft tissue mobilisation, therapeutic exercise, electrotherapy and pain management counselling to good clinical effect.

For further, more detailed information, please read this informative article published in the Acupuncture in Medicine journal.

Why do I use Medical Acupuncture in Physiotherapy?

Medical Acupuncture as a technique sits very nicely alongside other more conventional techniques typically associated with physiotherapy. At Mount Merrion Physiotherapy & Health we have developed a Functional Integrated Physiotherapy (FIP) approach, which usually includes medical acupuncture and dry needling when indicated. This approach allows me to bring my patients pain under control more rapidly along with a quicker return to function.

How may it help you?

If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, a FIP approach integrating medical acupuncture will provide pain relief and improve your physical function, allowing you to live a better, healthier and more active life.

  • Migraines
  • Tension headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Low back and neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis - for example of the knee joint
  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Tennis elbow
  • Reduced joint mobility due to stiffness and aches & pains

Medical Acupuncture is supported by scientific medical research, for more information please read this document which summarises the latest evidence.

Are there risks?

Medical acupuncture is a very low risk technique with less than one serious adverse event in every 200 000 treatments reported. As a medically trained chartered physiotherapist I will ensure you receive acupuncture in accordance with Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapy and British Medical Acupuncture Society treatment and safety guidelines.

Is Medical Acupuncture a placebo?

Every treatment technique from drug therapy to surgical procedures will have a placebo or expectation based physiological effect. Medical acupuncture is no different, however, studies have shown that acupuncture also has additional specific physiological effects dependant on insertion of the needle. For a fuller understanding of the specific physiological effects which support the use of medical acupuncture, please watch this short video by Professor Thomas Lundeberg of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. You may also be interested in this article discussing how medical acupuncture works.

How many sessions will I need?

A typical course of physiotherapy treatment which includes the use of medical acupuncture would be 4-6 sessions. However, this would depend on how long the condition has been present as well as your individual response to treatment. Each session is 30-45 minutes in duration depending on the nature of the condition being treated.

Is Medical Acupuncture the same as Dry Needling?

Medical acupuncture may be considered an ‘umbrella’ term which describes the use of needling in a western medical context. When using medical acupuncture to treat myofascial trigger points this may be descriptively referred to as ‘dry needling’. Sometimes the terms medical acupuncture and dry needling are used interchangeably.

Why should you seek treatment with me?

As a Chartered Physiotherapist, accredited member of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS), and member of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) I am bound by a professional code of conduct and ethics as and specific acupuncture needling guidelines to ensure patient safety and welfare.

I have been using medical acupuncture and related techniques in my clinical practice for over 18 years in various settings from professional sports in South Africa, the NHS in the UK and private practice in Ireland.

I regularly run further education courses for medical and allied health practitioners to learn how to safely and effectively integrate the use of medical acupuncture in their practice. I sit on the Competence, Accreditation and Examining Board of the BMAS and lecture on the Foundation Course in Medical Acupuncture.

I am truly passionate about medical acupuncture having observed excellent clinical results and feel privileged to have been able to help so many patients over the years overcome pain and physical dysfunction.

How to book an appointment?

Please email me at -

Consultations are held at - Mount Merrion Physiotherapy & Health. We are located at 105 Upper Trees Road, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin, A94 RX70, Republic of Ireland.

Health Insurance

Medical acupuncture & dry needling as part of a course of physiotherapy is eligible for reimbursement from all major insurance companies. For rates of reimbursement, please check your policy. Chartered physiotherapy treatment can also be claimed as a medical expense by submitting your receipt and a completed revenue Med1 form.

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