Acupuncture is the insertion of fine sterile needles in specific areas (acupuncture points) of the body. It is a holistic approach which involves understanding the body’s normal function and disease processes as viewed from the Chinese medicine perspective. Pain and illness are seen as signs that the body is out of balance and the aim of treatment is to restore the body’s equilibrium by inserting needles which trigger the body’s natural healing response. Treatment includes focusing on prevention of illness as well as on the treatment.
There are many styles of acupuncture which share a common root but are distinct and different in their emphasis: TCM, Five Elements, Stems and Branches, Japanese Meridian Therapy and Balance Method. Furthermore, there is also medical acupuncture but this style does not follow Chinese medicine theory and only general practitioners with the appropriate training can do this style of acupuncture.
Please note that dry needling (which is sometimes referred to as acupuncture) is not the same as the acupuncture carried out by a registered Acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner. If you decide to have dry needling it is important to know how much training your practitioner has and, to be aware they can only treat conditions within their scope of practice (musculoskeletal). In Australia, Acupuncturists/Chinese Medicine Practitioners must be registered with AHPRA and have completed a fulltime 4 year bachelor degree or part-time 3 year masters degree in acupuncture or Chinese medicine. In 2012, it became mandatory for Acupuncturists/Chinese Medicine Practitioners to be registered with AHPRA with the primary aim of protecting the public. Only a registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner can call themselves an Acupuncturist (protected title), whereas anyone with dry needling training can state they practice acupuncture. You can view the AHPRA website to check whether a practitioner is registered as an Acupuncturist.