What are the different types of acupuncture?

Not everyone who says they do acupuncture can offer you all the benefits of traditional acupuncture.

Some healthcare professionals use a reduced form of acupuncture to treat simple conditions. You will only experience the complete system of acupuncture when you see a traditional acupuncturist.

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Traditional acupuncture is the foundation from which all other types of acupuncture have developed. When you see a traditional acupuncturist (often titled ‘Licensed’ acupuncturist) they will take your complete medical history and create a unique treatment plan for you. There are hundreds of individual acupuncture points on the body, each with a different quality, and a traditional acupuncturist knows how to combine them to get the best results. As well as relieving your immediate problem, traditional acupuncture brings your physical and emotional health into balance because it treats the whole body as a complete system, not as a collection of functions.

Medical acupuncture is used by physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors to treat musculoskeletal pain; by doctors and nurses to treat migraines, nausea and some specific conditions; and by midwives to assist with birth. These medical professionals have been trained to use a selection of acupuncture points alongside their main therapeutic techniques because acupuncture is so safe and effective and combines well with other treatments to boost the body’s ability to heal.

Dry needling is sometimes called trigger point acupuncture. Physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and massage therapists attend short training courses to learn how to insert needles into a small selection of acupuncture points or directly into a muscle.

Ear acupuncture is actually part of the full traditional acupuncture system but because of its convenience and effectiveness is sometimes offered on its own. People providing ear acupuncture can be traditional acupuncturists, or healthcare professionals who are trained to use it for specific conditions. It is often used by drug and alcohol support workers to help tackle addiction; by the Military to treat pain and post traumatic stress in soldiers; and it can help reduce anxiety by relaxing the mind and body.

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