Types of Acupuncture

Aside from the differences between Traditional Chinese acupuncture and Western medical acupuncture, there are different ways that you may be given acupuncture depending on the condition for which you are being treated.

Trigger Point Acupuncture

Many painful muscular conditions, such as neck pain, headaches, tennis elbow and low back pain, result in painful knots of muscle called trigger points. Directly needling these trigger points can be temporarily uncomfortable but often very successful in relieving the pain and tension associated with the presence of the trigger points. This is achieved by directly deactivating the trigger point and enabling release of the tight band of muscle.
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The picture on the right shows a woman having trigger points in her neck and upper back being treated with acupuncture.
The redness surrounding the needles is a common reaction to acupuncture. It is a sign of local inflammation with an increased flow of blood bringing healing substances to the needled area. It is also considered a good sign in traditional Chinese acupuncture.
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Electro-acupuncture

Occasionally, the acupuncture needles are attached via leads to a machine that generates mild electrical pulses. This provides an extra stimulation that can be useful in some conditions that are difficult to treat and require a more powerful 'dose' of acupuncture.
Electroacupuncture may be felt by the patient as a tingling sensation. Electroacupuncture is also used in specific conditions like stroke and addictions.
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The picture above shows a man being treated with electroacupuncture to aid recovery from a stroke.



To the right is an electro-acupuncture machine.
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Ear (auricular) acupuncture

Ear acupuncture is based on the belief that the whole body, including all the internal organs, is represented on the ear. In the same way that a reflexologist believes that he or she is able to reach the whole of the body through the foot, so the auricular acupuncturist believes that the ear is the gateway to the whole body, external and internal. Very small needles are inserted into the external ear during the treatment; sometimes patients are sent away with metal balls stuck over the ear acu-points with tiny plasters and are required to intermittently rub these to provide stimulation to the points.
Ear acupuncture is commonly used to treat addictions (such as smoking and drug addiction) and as part of a selection of needles in fertility treatment.