Acupuncture was first used in ancient China, as early as 960AD. The word acupuncture derives from a latin word (acus) meaning 'the needle' and is described as 'puncturing of bodily tissues for the relief of pain'.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is performed by inserting needles of various lengths and diameters into specific points over the body. The needle is usually inserted, rotated and then either removed immediately or left in place for several minutes. These acupuncture points exist along lines called meridians. The ancient chinese believed that the health of an individual is determined by channels of energy, known as Qi which flow beneath the skin. If the flow of Qi is disturbed then we may develop illness. The aim of inserting needles is to restore this flow of energy.
What is it used to treat?
In terms of sporting injuries, acupuncture has been used successfully to treat many conditions, such as:
There is a lack of scientific evidence to either back, or refute the use of acupuncture. This is because of the difficulty in testing it, firstly due to the disability in proving the existence of Qi and secondly in testing the effectiveness of acupuncture against a placebo. In order to complete a reliable study, both the practitioner and the client must be unaware of whether they are receiving real or 'sham' acupuncture. This is impossible to achieve, as the practitioner will always know, and the client can usually tell if a real needle has been inserted. Any research performed with retractable needles (the closet thing to a placebo) has shown that there is no difference in effect!
Acupuncture is a relatively safe treatment, providing certain guidelines are followed. These mostly involve the use of a needle to pierce the skin in terms of avoiding infection and cross contamination. All acupuncture practitioners must be a member of each nations governing body for acupuncture which includes indemnity insurance. The safest way of finding a practitioner is by using the governing bodies website.