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What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture is an interpretation of the traditional Chinese Acupuncture approach used by physiotherapists, doctors, sports physicians, and pain management specialists throughout the world. The key difference when using medical acupuncture is the practitioner first makes a western medical diagnosis then uses acupuncture as a treatment technique, based on a scientific understanding of how acupuncture influences the body's neurophysiology.

In physiotherapy, medical acupuncture, and dry needling assists pain management, reduce muscle tension, deactivate myofascial trigger points, and promote tissue healing. Medical acupuncture may be used with other physiotherapy techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, electrotherapy, and pain neuroscience education as part of an integrated biopsychosocial treatment approach.

For more information about Acupuncture in Medicine, please check out this article.


If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, a treatment approach which includes medical acupuncture & dry needling may help provide effective pain relief and improve your mobility, strength and physical function.

  • Myofascial trigger points
  • Headaches including migraine and tension headaches
  • Shoulder pain including rotator cuff dysfunction and frozen shoulder
  • Low back and neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis, for example of the knee joint
  • Tendinopathies, for example tennis elbow, Achilles tendon
  • Reduced joint mobility due to persistent stiffness and pain

Are there risks?

Medical acupuncture is a very low-risk technique with less than one serious adverse event in every 200 000 treatments reported. In general, serious adverse events have been show in research to be very rare. As an AHPRA registered physiotherapist, I will ensure you receive acupuncture following all treatment and safety guidelines.

How many sessions will I need?

Every patient will have an initial assessment, followed by a course of treatment suitable for the condition. A typical course of physiotherapy treatment that includes medical acupuncture and dry needling is six to eight sessions depending on the type of condition, how long you have been experiencing symptoms and your individual response to treatment.

The treatment itself involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and left in position for a period of time. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three.


Medical acupuncture may be considered an umbrella term that describes needling in a western medical context. Medical acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle and can produce a variety of effects such as increasing the body's release of natural painkillers - endorphin and serotonin - in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain which modifies the way pain signals are received. When medical acupuncture is used to treat tender myofascial trigger points, commonly found in muscles, this may be described as ‘dry needling’. Sometimes the terms medical acupuncture and dry needling are used interchangeably. For more about myofascial trigger points, please click here.

treatment with Simon

My skills and experience in using medical acupuncture and related needling techniques in physiotherapy have developed over 22 years in various settings such as professional sports in South Africa, the National Health Service in the UK, and private practice in Ireland and Australia.

As an AHPRA registered physiotherapist and accredited member of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS), I follow a professional code of conduct and specific acupuncture needling guidelines to ensure patient safety and welfare.

I am the Chair of the BMAS Competence, Accreditation and Examining Board and lecture on the Foundation Course in Medical Acupuncture. I have provided further education courses for medical and allied health practitioners to learn how to safely and effectively integrate the use of medical acupuncture.

I am passionate about using medical acupuncture as a treatment technique. It allows me to achieve excellent clinical results and help many of my patients live more comfortable, active and healthy lives.