MSc, BSc Hons, DipMedAc, MISCP


Simon holds a Master of Science Degree in Physiotherapy and is a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. A post graduate Diploma in Medical Acupuncture entitles him to accredited membership of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. Simon specialises in the integration of medical acupuncture techniques with manual therapy and therapeutic exercise for the treatment of musculo-skeletal pain and dysfunction.

The effects of Medical Acupuncture in the Brain

Once the acupuncture needle penetrates the skin, fascia and muscle, nerve endings are stimulated, sending action potentials (i.e. nerve signals) to the spinal cord, then the midbrain from where they then pass to other areas of the brain.

One of these areas is the somatosensory cortex which processes sensory information and registers the needle sensation, usually felt as a deep, dull, ache, numbness or tingly feeling. Needling should not be aversively painful - if it is the needle should be removed.

The action potentials then stimulate other parts of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex, limbic system, hippocampus, cerebellum and very importantly, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus can be thought of as the brain's central controller, which influences other parts of the brain, the nervous system and hormonal systems.

The medical acupuncture experience, created by an experienced practitioner, has been shown to modulate different brain networks. A brain network can be thought of as different parts of the brain working together in a coordinated way to achieve a specific function.

One important network is the default mode network which regulates the body's resting state. The body must wind down from a stress state and restore itself to a resting state regularly; otherwise, persistent stress-related illness and disease may occur over time.

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How Medical Acupuncture works - A Mechanisms Review part 2

There are five physiological mechanisms which can be used to explain how medical acupuncture works. Each can be used for a different purpose which is why anyone using medical acupuncture must be able to make a conventional medical diagnosis and have an understanding of the underlying pathology to be effective when using a medical acupuncture approach.

The different mechanisms require variations in the treatment technique and so this needs to be tailored to the individual patient.

This blog will discuss the second of the four mechanisms, the segmental effects:

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How Medical Acupuncture works - a Mechanisms Review

There are five physiological mechanisms which can be used to explain how medical acupuncture works. Each can be used for a different purpose which is why anyone using medical acupuncture must be able to make a conventional medical diagnosis and have an understanding of the underlying pathology to be effective when using a medical acupuncture approach.

The different mechanisms require variations in the treatment technique and so this needs to be tailored to the individual patient.

This blog will discuss the first of the five mechanisms, the local effects:

The local effects refers to the ability of acupuncture to activate specific sensory nerve fibres in the skin and muscle. Needling near the sensory nerve endings sets off action potentials (nerve impulses) which spread around and along with the local network of nerve fibres – this is called an axon reflex. 

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Treating Runner's Knee with Dry Needling

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), aka 'runners knee' is one of the most common forms of knee pain in adults under the age of 40.1

PFPS is characterised by diffuse and often vague pain about the front and underside of the knee-cap and is aggravated with squatting, prolonged sitting, stair climbing as well as running.2

I have treated several clients over the past few months who, due to COVID-19 restrictions, took up outdoor running. Continuing to exercise, especially outdoors, has immense benefits; however, if the body is not prepared for running, problems can occur.

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Tension Headaches, Trigger Points and the best Treatment

I recently came across a nice piece of clinical research by Cescon et al., 2019 (1) who looked at the prevalence and characteristics of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in the head and neck, frequently found in people with tension-type headache (TTH).

Research and clinical experience suggest that MTrPs are implicated in the development of tension-type headache (2). The MTrPs may act as a muscular source of nociception (potentially pain-inducing stimuli) which in turn can, over time, trigger the central sensitisation phenomenon common in chronic headache sufferers.

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