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Western Medical Acupuncture -Western

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Acupuncture needle being inserted into hand for pain relief.

Medical or Western Acupuncture, also known as Dry Needling, is a western adaptation of traditional acupuncture. It is practised predominantly by doctors, physiotherapists, osteopaths & chiropractors and uses a more limited range of acupuncture techniques on the basis of a western medical diagnosis.

It is not one of the various forms Traditional Oriental acupuncture and should not be confused as such!

Dry Needling is based on anatomy, physiology and western scientific findings, such as, reduction in excess muscle tension/spasm, stimulating the release of the body's natural pain killing hormones (endorphins), etc.

Mostly you will find that those acupuncturists that practice western acupuncture have some sort of medical qualification and have studied it as a post graduate qualification over relatively short courses. A great number of GPs in the UK have attended courses on this, but it seems relatively few use it in their day to day practice. I can only hazard a guess that time constraints is the cause of this or perhaps they have not been able to pursue it long enough to reap the benefits. Also, in General Practice I imagine it would be largely used for simple pain relief, which more often than not is relatively short lived. Commonly a few hours to a few days. That said, if this enables the patient to get the painful area/joint moving, thus reducing the local inflammation, then that may be enough to get them on the road to recovery.
























Acupuncture needles in womans back for back pain. Acupuncture needle inserted into knee for knee pain.

A Simplified Example

How Andrew might treat someone with a Frozen Shoulder

After a detailed case history, examination & diagnosis, if severe, then he may suggest the addition of acupuncture to the treatment. Needling prior to osteopathic treatment usually gains a degree of pain relief & reduces the local muscle spasm. This, then allows for a greater degree of osteopathic manipulation with less pain, to increase the movement in the shoulder.

Self care advice & exercises are given to enable the patient to maintain the extra movement gained & hopefully improve on it before the next treatment. This approach - I find speeds the rate of recovery, reduces the number of treatments needed and helps the person feel that they have some control over their problem.

Problems that Andrew finds Western Acupuncture particularly useful for (as an adjunct to osteopathy), include:-

Severe neck & back problems, painful conditions in general, headaches, migraine, pain in any of the joints & limbs, tinnitus, sleep problems, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

NB Western acupuncture is not typically used to treat people specifically for problems such as diabetes, weight loss, stopping smoking, etc. Andrew only uses it as an addition to osteopathy or with NAET on occasions, for these sorts of problems it would more appropriate to see our Traditional Chinese Medical Acupuncturist - Jennifer Jones

Or if you like the concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but don't feel you can face the needles you could try Reflexology, Daoyin Tao, Indian Head Massage or Shiatsu, all of which are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

While Reflexology works indirectly (via the feet) on the meridian/bio-energetic system, Daoyin Tao & Indian Head Massage via the head & upper body, whilst Shiatsu works directly on the energy pathways of the body by working on the muscles & tissues.

















Western Medical Acupuncture

Is primarily used for the treatment of Musculoskeletal & Neurological Pain problems i.e. general muscular and joint aches & pains, arthritis, as well as sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, migraines, headaches, etc.

The following are from a list of the more common conditions treated by Acupuncture, as outlined by the WHO (World Health Organization), agency of the United Nations.

Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders
  • Headache and migraine

  • Trigeminal neuralgia

  • Facial palsy (early stage, i.e., within three to six months)

  • Pareses following a stroke

  • Peripheral neuropathies

  • Sequelae of poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months)

  • Meniere's disease

  • Neurogenic bladder dysfunction

  • Nocturnal enuresis

  • Intercostal neuralgia

  • Cervicobrachial syndrome

  • "Frozen shoulder," "tennis elbow"

  • Sciatica

  • Low back pain

  • Osteoarthritis





















How Does Western Acupuncture Work?

The insertion of very fine needles into the soft tissues of the body causes several effects. One is the immediate release of endorphins that are natural hormones that give pain relief, a general feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the needles effect certain sensory nerves in the soft tissues, causing a refelex relaxation of not just the muscle that is needled, but much of the muscles fed from that level of the spinal cord. More recent studies using functional MRI brain scans have found that certain areas of the brain are also stimulated, that are not necessarily directly related to the area needled.

How does it differ to Traditional Chinese Acupuncture?

The basis of it is based primarily on the effects that have been confirmed by western science, rather than traditional oriental medical theory.


According to traditional Chinese philosophy, our health is dependent on the body's motivating energy - known as Qi - moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin. Qi consists of equal and opposite qualities - Yin and Yang - and when these become unbalanced, illness may result. By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore its natural balance.

More about the differences between TCM and Medical (Western) Acupuncture on Wikipedia

How Much Does Treatment Cost?

See Price List.

























Related Pages

Western Acupuncturist - Andrew C. Woodhouse BSc (Hons) Ost

External Links

Andrew also provides osteopathy, visceral & cranial osteopathy, western acupuncture, allergy screening & NAET in Liverpool at

Liverpool Wellbeing Centre.


Medical or Western Acupuncture on Wikipedia