Frequently asked questions

What is the evidence?

Evidence of acupuncture's effectiveness is growing as researchers evaluate the best ways to measure how the body responds to it. To date the focus has been on pain management. Around the world, clinical studies are being conducted to understand how acupuncture can be beneficial for many more conditions. Factsheets about the latest acupuncture research are available at the British Acupuncture Council website.

Can it help me?

Acupuncture is considered to be beneficial for a wide range of conditions. NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends acupuncture on the NHS for back pain, migraines and headaches. The respected Scottish Intercollegiate Guidlines Network (SIGN) recommends acupuncture for chronic pain. Because an acupuncture treatment is designed to affect your whole body, not just your symptoms, you may notice other niggling problems resolve during a course of treatment.

Who has acupuncture?

Many people have acupuncture to resolve specific aches and pains such as osteoarthritis, headaches and lower back pain, or for common health problems like an overactive bladder. Some pregnant women have acupuncture throughout their pregnancy. Others choose acupuncture when their bodily functions are out of balance but they have no obvious diagnosis. Many have regular treatments because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.

What happens when I go for treatment?

I will use many diagnostic methods to put together an individual treatment plan based on your state of health and lifestyle. I will take a complete medical history, read you pulses, look at your tongue and may examine the site of your symptoms. Acupuncture needles are inserted at points selected to affect your whole body, as well as your symptoms, and you will be left to rest for a while before they are removed. The single-use sterile needles come in sealed packs and are safely disposed of after each treatment.

What does it feel like?

Acupuncture needles are so fine that most people don't feel them being inserted. It's normal to feel a mild tingle, dull ache, warmth or tugging sensation as the needles are adjusted. Many people feel deeply relaxed during treatment.

Is it safe?

Two research studies conducted in 2011 and 2012 concluded that when practiced by properly trained and qualified acupuncturists, such as members of the British Acupuncture Association, the risk of adverse events from acupuncture is extremely low.

Are there side effects?

Sometimes a small bruise can appear at a needle site. Occasionally people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this passes quickly.

How many treatments will I need?

I will discuss this with you. Weekly treatments are normal to begin with, reducing in frequency as your body responds. The effect is usually felt within five or six treatments but occasionally just one or two treatments are sufficient.

Will health insurance pay for my treatment?

Most health insurance policies cover the cost of treatments with British Acupuncture Association registered acupuncturists. You should check with you insurer directly.