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Western Medical Acupuncture & Laser Therapy

There are many treatments available for treating musculoskeletal pain (some examples are deep tissue massage, injections of local anaesthetics, steroids, PRP, botox). Some of these treatments have unwanted side effects and can be quite painful. Western Medical Acupuncture provides an effective and often less painful form of treating musculoskeletal pain.

What is Western Medical Acupuncture (WMA) and how does it work?

Following a medical diagnosis, WMA uses fine acupuncture needles to influence the physiology of the body according to a scientific view. WMA can work via 5 mechanisms – 4 of which involve the nervous system and one which involves the muscles.

Local effects – WMA stimulates nerve fibres in skin and muscle, increasing local blood flow, promoting local tissue healing.

Segmental Analgesia – WMA reduces pain in the segment where the needles are inserted.

Extrasegmental Analgesia – Action potentials produced by the acupuncture needle can travel from the needle site up to the brain, so can have an effect that extends to the whole body, dulling pain throughout the body.

Central Regulatory Effects – Once reaching the midbrain, the action potentials can influence other parts of the Central Nervous System, often having a calming effect and improving wellbeing.

Myofascial Trigger Points - Once musculoskeletal pain becomes chronic, it is often associated with tender ‘trigger’ points. Trigger points cause the muscles to become shorter and weaker, and as a result restrict movement in the joints as well. WMA inactivates myofascial trigger points – this component of WMA is called Dry Needling.

So is Western Medical Acupuncture and Dry Needling the same?

Dry needling is becoming more commonly used by Physiotherapists and some Podiatrists. Dry needling is only 1 component of WMA. Dry needling involves locating and needling myofascial trigger points over or near the affected area. WMA involves needling myofascial trigger points as well as acupuncture points to produce an effect on the muscles but also the nervous system. I have been using dry needling for a number of years in my clinic, but since doing further study and incorporating the Western Medical Acupuncture principles, I am achieving much more profound patient results, especially with regards to local tissue healing.

How does Western Medical Acupuncture differ to Traditional Chinese Acupuncture?

A traditional Chinese Acupuncturist makes a diagnosis in terms of a disturbance in the body’s balance, and attempts to correct the body’s balance or ‘qi’ by the use of needles. Western medical acupuncture is an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence based medicine. While WMA has evolved from Chinese acupuncture, its practitioners no longer adhere to concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of ‘qi’. WMA acts mainly by stimulating the nervous system to assist with healing of musculoskeletal pain.

Common conditions treated at Foundation Podiatry using Western Medical Acupuncture include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)
  • Forefoot pain (Morton’s Neuroma, intermetatarsal bursitis, capsulitis)
  • Calf strain, Shin pain, Achilles tendon pain
  • Post-ankle sprain
  • Knee, leg and hip pain
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Breaking down scar tissue (especially post-surgery scars)

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Low Level Laser therapy (LLLT) is the treatment of various conditions using laser to bring about a photochemical reaction at a cellular level. The laser light penetrates into tissue where it is absorbed by cells and converted into energy that influences the course of metabolic processes, promoting tissue healing.

The laser used at Foundation Podiatry is an infra-red laser which penetrates deeply into tissue.

Advantages of LLLT:

  • Painless and often immediate analgesic effect at time of treatment
  • Dramatically shortened recovery time with rapid reduction of swelling and inflammation
  • Can be used for both acute and chronic injuries
  • Non-invasive and extremely patient friendly treatment

LLLT is well-researched and utilised world-wide for the treatment of:

  • Musculoskeletal pain (sprained ligaments, tendon injuries, muscle soreness and tightness)
  • Fibrous lesions and scar tissue break down
  • Lymphoedema and wound healing

Conditions treated at Foundation Podiatry using LLLT include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Forefoot pain (Morton’s Neuroma, intermetatarsal bursitis, capsulitis)
  • Achilles tendon pain
  • Post-ankle sprain
  • Breaking down scar tissue (especially post-surgery scars)
  • Tendinopathies (peroneal, posterior tibialis etc)

At Foundation Podiatry we often use laser therapy in conjunction with other therapies, such as massage, taping and Western Medical Acupuncture. Laser can be applied to acupuncture points instead of inserting an acupuncture needle, and can also be applied beside an acupuncture needle to enhance the benefits of the acupuncture and also reduce the needle time.

Treatment length and frequency for both laser therapy and Western Medical Acupuncture varies greatly depending on the individual, the injury, whether it is acute or chronic etc etc. Improvements in symptoms however is usually noticed between 1- 4 appointments.


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