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.

Medical acupuncture may facilitate exercise and movement

acupunctureAcupuncture, medical acupuncture, dry it what you want...has been shown to activate proprioceptive afferent receptors in muscle tissue, in particular the type 11 (flower spray type) which which contribute to numbing feeling associated with the needle sensation or ‘de qi’.1,2 Given the pain modulatory benefits of acupuncture are mainly attributed to sensory effects, the activation of these proprioceptors may be important from a mechanisms point of view.2

Manual therapy also activates proprioceptors (sometimes referred to as ergo or mechanoreceptors) about the muscle spindles and articular structures.3 When looking at the manual therapy literature and listening to experts4 discuss the proposed mechanisms which underpin its benefits, the role of proprioceptor activation is considered not only in terms of contribution to pain modulation, but also from functional point of view. In other words, manual therapy is associated with pain modulation, but can also be used to facilitate movement and exercise, help normalise faulty movement patterns etc.

So, my musing for this morning is should acupuncture research be focussing more on functional effects? i.e to what extent may acupuncture impact on specific functional outcomes which assess mobility, strength and control etc? Is acupuncture when combined with specific exercise more effective than one or the other on it’s own? What happens when manual therapy, exercise and acupuncture are combined?

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Overactive bladder & Urinary Incontinence - Medical Acupuncture an effective treatment

runningThere are two main types of incontinence, Sometimes a mixed type can occur.

Stress incontinence:

May be due to pelvic floor weakness, a result of disturbances to the normal function of the pelvic floor muscles and fibrous tissue. This may be due to the presence of trigger points within the muscles, it may also be inherited. Those with stress incontinence are more prone to leaking with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercises, lifting etc. Treatment options include pelvic floor muscle retraining (with a physiotherapist), electrical stimulation, and medication. In some cases surgery may be required.

Urge incontinence:

Results in the feeling of needing to urinate more frequently and being unable to control the urge. Sometimes the urge results in an increase in visits to the bathroom only and without incontinence, this would be referred to as an overactive or 'irritable bladder'.This type of incontinence is due to a sensitivity of the bladder wall and disruption of the neuronal mechanisms which control the bladder wall and sphincter. This can greatly affect health related quality of life and may result in a social isolation. Treatment options include physiotherapy, electrical stimulation, medication and in some cases surgery. Medical acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective form of treatment for urge incontinence as is now being more widely recommended to complement or replace the need for medication.

Medical acupuncture has been shown to:

  • Reduce the number of urges and improve health related quality of life.1,3
  • Reduce the frequency of bathroom visits, reduce the numbers of urges, improve bladder capacity as well as improves urinary distress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire scores.2
  • Electro acupuncture applied to the point SP6, referred to by urologists as PTNS (percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation), has shown to be effective and efficacious in treating overactive bladder in 220 patients.4
  • Other studies have shown that electro acupuncture compares favourably with the tolterodine drug treatment 5 and is a viable long term therapy.6

Our clinical approach is to use Medical Acupuncture alongside diet, lifestyle and exercise advice as part of an integrated approach.

If you need help and would like to explore a medical acupuncture based course of treatment, and for further information, please call the clinic on 01-2834303.

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Medical Acupuncture relieves Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy

pelvic girdle pain pregnancyPelvic girdle pain in pregnancy (PGP) symptoms are normally felt about the pelvis, the buttocks and groin areas. They are aggravated by walking, bending and lifting which hinder the sufferer’s daily activities. It can also affect sleep with symptoms milder in the morning and worse in the evening.

PGP is the leading cause of sick leave during pregnancy in Sweden and other countries.

75% of women who experience PGP during pregnancy will improve within 12 weeks after delivery, 25% will go on to develop chronic pain.1

Medical acupuncture has been shown:

  • To relieve pelvic and low back pain in late pregnancy.2
    When combined with stabilising exercises, to be an effective compliment to standard treatment.3
  • To be more effective in providing PGP relief compared to stabilising exercises when used on own.3
  • To reduce pain, improve daily activities, improve emotional reactions and loss of energy according to the Nottingham Health Profile questionnaire.4
  • Combine well with pelvic support belts in the treatment of PGP.5
  • To also be an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy.6

Medical acupuncture treatment has resulted in no maternal or obstetric negative side effects such as premature delivery in 417 pregnant women treated and after 3152 treatments.3,6,7,8

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Medical Acupuncture treatment for Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis

dysmenorrheaWomen bleed for approximately 37 years, 60 days a year which is almost 6 years of a woman’s life. It’s a far more pleasant experience if this time can be spent comfortably.

Dysmenorrhea is experienced not only as painful periods, but also abdominal cramps, sometimes nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches and vertigo as well as mood changes.

Dysmenorrhea due to endometriosis can be very unpleasant and also result in non-cyclic pelvic pain and dyspareunia (painful intercourse).

Conventional treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory medication and or contraceptives, but for 10-20% of women these are not effective. Some cannot or prefer not to take these drugs.

Medical Acupuncture has be shown to:

  • Improve pain and quality of life when combined with usual medical care, significantly more so compared to those who received usual medical care only for dysmenorrhea.1
  • Reduce pain and improve headache, nausea and fatigue symptoms in adolescent girls suffering from endometriosis-related pelvic pain.2
  • Relieve pain effectively in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea and offers advantages in increasing the overall effectiveness of medical treatment including anti-inflammatory medication.3

My clinical approach is to use Medical Acupuncture’s pre-emptive effects, given before the period with the intention of easing pain and other symptoms during. We then recommend the use of high frequency TENS4 treatment applied at home during menstruation.

Dysmenorrhea due to endometriosis may take longer to treat and usually requires a multidisciplinary approach which may include medication, CBT, progressive muscle relaxation, medical acupuncture and TENS.

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Medical Acupuncture relieves the symptoms of PCOS

PCOSPolycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine and metabolic disorder women suffer from. Despite the detrimental impact on women's health, the cause of PCOS is not well understood, but genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors have all been implicated in its development.

A vicious circle triggered by androgen excess occurs. This usually results in sex steroid secretion, ovulatory disturbances, mood disorders and metabolic disturbances such as weight gain.

Women with PCOS are unfortunately at risk of pregnancy and birth complications.1

Research has shown that with medical acupuncture treatment and exercise it may be possible to break this cycle resulting in:

- Reduced total testosterone levels and menstrual frequency in those with irregular periods due to oligo ovulation with effects shown to last longer than four months.2

-  Repeated low frequency electro-acupuncture reduces serum anti-Mullerian hormone levels and ovarian volume.3

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