What is Acupuncture?

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world and is an evidence-based treatment technique for several conditions. It seems to be one of those treatments that appears in the media and flares in popularity every so often. As physiotherapists, acupuncture is one of the many skills we acquire to create a treatment plan for our patients, and we have seen our patients report reduced pain, post treatment for many years. 

What does it do? 

It activates the body’s own pain-relieving responses. The insertion of very fine needles into specific points leads to stimulation or relaxation of the body and boosts the body’s natural painkillers. It is because of these effects that this treatment is used to treat pain.  

Is it effective? 

NICE, who advises the NHS on best treatment approaches, has recently concluded that acupuncture reduces pain and improves the quality of life. They advised that the type used needs to be tailored to the individual. In practice, each treatment is tailored to each patient based on their condition. Historically, some programmes have treated certain conditions such as low back pain with the same “acupuncture prescription” not considering individual symptoms and background.  

What is it used for? 

It is effective for most types of pain, including osteoarthritis, back or neck pain, migraines, and chronic primary pain syndromes. In general, up to 10 sessions are recommended, however, the exact amount depends on the patient and the type used within sessions. Research supports the effectiveness of the treatment for pain relief.

At Pure, our trained therapists use the service as a stand-alone treatment and/or in conjunction with manual therapy, self-management techniques and home exercise programme forming part of a comprehensive treatment plan.  Click here to find out more about our acupuncture service. 



  1. NICE Chronic Pain in over 16’s (2021) www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng193
  2. Carlsson C. (2002) Acupuncture mechanisms for clinically relevant long-term effects – reconsideration and a hypothesis. Acupuncture in Medicine 20 (2–3), 82–99.
  3. Gattie, E., Cleland, J. A., & Snodgrass, S. (2017). The effectiveness of triggerpointdry needling for musculoskeletal conditions by physical therapists: a systematic review and meta-analysis. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 47(3), 133-149. 
  4. Lin, X., Huang, K., Zhu, G., Huang, Z., Qin, A., & Fan, S. (2016). The effects of acupuncture on chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis. JBJS, 98(18), 1578-1585.
  5. Linde, K., Allais, G.,Brinkhaus, B., Fei, Y., Mehring, M.,Vertosick, E.A., Vickers, A. & White, A.R. (2016). Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6). 
  6. Liu, L., Huang, Q. M., Liu, Q. G.,Thitham, N., Li, L. H., Ma, Y. T., & Zhao, J. M. (2018). Evidence for dry needling in the management of myofascial trigger points associated with low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 99(1), 144-152.
  7. Trinh, K., Graham, N.,Irnich, D., Cameron, I. D., & Forget, M. (2016). Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (5).
  8. Vickers, A.J.,Vertosick, E.A.,Lewith, G., MacPherson, H., Foster, N.E., Sherman, K.J., Irnich, D., Witt, C.M., Linde, K. & Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration. (2018). Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. The Journal of Pain, 19(5), 455-474. 
  9. Zhang, Y., & Wang, C. (2020). Acupuncture and Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. Current Rheumatology Reports, 22(11), 1-11.