‘Hands Off’ Physiotherapy - Is This The Best Way Forward?

Handsoff 300Physiotherapy, like most professions is subject to trends and fads. Big names in research will on occasion hit upon an idea that starts to gain traction in research circles and then may filter down to clinical practice.

Most of us in clinical practice want to get better and what we do so that we can help our clients get better more quickly. Others get bored with using the same techniques and love an opportunity to do it differently. For this reason physiotherapists seem ever open to new approaches and techniques.

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How I Use Medical Acupuncture In My Integrated Physiotherapy Approach

Medical acupuncture which may include dry needling often gets criticised by other healthcare practitioners as being too ‘passive’. The concern seems to be that you as clients will develop a reliance when the emphasis should be on self management, exercise, movement and lifestyle modification etc.

I fully understand the concern and the importance promoting active involvement on the part of the client. We as physiotherapists know that some of the best evidence for the long term management of pain is with exercise. Lifestyle adjustments as well as an understanding of how thoughts, attitudes and beliefs towards pain is now better understood and should also be addressed by your physiotherapist if needed.

My view if that medical acupuncture is most effective when combined with exercise and lifestyle adjustments and this is how I practice. No session with me would be complete without getting you moving afterwards. My aim is to facilitate movement and function which is free and easy, comfortable and relaxed, I want you to trust your body and let it work for you without fear and concern. The type of movement and exercises I will recommend will be tailored to your needs and based on what I find on assessment.

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Support Acupuncture Treatment

Patients may Be denied effective treatment for low back pain in the UK

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are an advisory body which advise medical practitioners in the UK. NICE issue so called evidence based guidelines which advise on treatment protocols for most medical conditions including low back pain. Although UK based, practitioners including physiotherapists in other countries consult the guidelines.

The guideline on the treatment of low back pain (CG88) published in 2009 included medical acupuncture for persistent non specific low back pain. This meant that medical acupuncture could be offered by the NHS and as a result many patients would have benefited from this effective and safe form of treatment.

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Why RCT’s Are Not Fair To Medical Acupuncture?

The randomised control trial (RCT) was designed mainly for use within the pharmaceutical research. Simplified, an active pill and a dummy or ‘inert’ pill are compared for effectiveness. The active pill has to perform significantly better than the dummy pill for the effect not to be considered a placebo.


This RCT model suits the pharmaceutical industry because it’s easy to create a dummy pill. But when the RCT is applied to medical acupuncture, how do you create a credible dummy needle?

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Integrating Medical Acupuncture in Low Back Pain - Course Reflection

Last Saturday the 6th of February, Lorraine and I presented Integrating Medical Acupuncture in the treatment of Low Back Pain, a one day masterclass at Mount Merrion Chartered Physiotherapy.

We ran the course last November and due to the good feedback and the fact that we could not accommodate all booking enquiries, we decided to repeat the course sooner rather than later.

Once again we were pleased to welcome physiotherapists who had taken time out of there weekends and travelled many hours in some cases to join us. A real commitment to further education, this is what makes us strong as a profession.

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