Frequently Asked Questions
We are often asked questions regarding Acupuncture, Osteopathy and Naturopathy, on subjects ranging from safety and efficacy, to successful outcomes & clinical evidence.
The following are a small sample of commonly asked questions, but if you have any other issues or concerns you would like to discuss, please call our reception line on 0845 303 8372 and we will be happy to answer your queries.
Is it safe?
All British Acupuncture Council Members observe a strict code of practice which governs their standard of care and level of conduct. They must have been trained for at least three years in Traditional Acupuncture and western science. All needles used are single use, sterile and disposable. Patients receiving acupuncture are still eligible to donate blood.
The results of two independent surveys published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 (MacPherson et al, White et al, both BMJ September 2001) concluded that the risk of serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than 1 in 10,000. Responses to treatment can sometimes include tiredness or mild dizziness, and very occasionally minor bruising may occur. However, all such reactions are short-lived.
All osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Society and are bound by their strict codes of conduct and practice. Due to the Osteopath Act 1993 it is now illegal for someone to call themselves an osteopath unless they have undergone training at an approved school, so you now have the same safeguards as when you visit a doctor or dentist. All practitioners are fully insured.
Will my insurance policy pay?
Acupuncture - Many insurance companies now cover acupuncture treatment by either self-referral or referral from your GP or specialist. If uncertain, please check with your insurer. However, BUPA do not cover traditional acupuncture.
Osteopathy - Garry is approved by BUPA, AXA, PPP, HSA and many other insurance companies, but please check your own provider before commencing treatment.
How should I prepare for a treatment?
It is not advisable to come for treatment if you have not eaten for many hours. If necessary, have a light snack before your appointment. Also, if it forms part of your dental hygiene routine, please do NOT brush your tongue the night before, or morning of, your treatment, as looking at it may form part of your diagnosis. Sometimes you may be asked to refrain from wearing make-up or perfumed products for subsequent treatments, to aid the diagnostic process. It also helps if you make a note of any medical conditions (e.g. epilepsy, allergic reactions, diabetes, high blood pressure etc) that you have and the details of any medication you are currently taking, and bring it with you to your treatment. Loose, comfortable clothing is a good idea, as some items may need to be removed.
Are there any side effects?
In some cases, symptoms will change before improving, and in rare instances they may be temporarily aggravated. This is usually part of the adjustment process and is soon followed by an improvement in your condition.
Do I need a referral from my doctor?
No. Osteopaths and Acupuncturists are independent practitioners so therefore you can make an appointment without a referral. If it becomes necessary to communicate with your GP, your consent will be requested first.
How long will I need treatment for?
After patients get the initial relief they want, many choose to continue with some periodic care. These patients show up to appointments already feeling great. Their ongoing visits help support the final stages of healing and rehabilitation and help detect, prevent and resolve new problems before they become serious. Osteopathic and acupuncture care is preventative care! Just as you must continue to brush your teeth and have regular dental visits to keep them for a life time, taking care of your body is also a lifelong process of eating well, exercise, rest and regular physical maintenance.
Many patients, who are active people, may have stressful jobs, enjoy hard physical exercise or simply want to function at their very best, so they find that a schedule of preventative visits are helpful in the maintenance of good health. Some patients seek osteopathic and acupuncture care only when they are in pain or have run the gambit of prescribed medication and we often find this type of crisis management can be more costly and time consuming, as it is harder to repair damage than prevent it. So, you decide how many treatments you have and you remain in control of your health care at all times.
Where are our clinics?
Our 4 clinics in Cambridgeshire and London offer Acupuncture
and Trigger Point Therapy
treatments for an extensive range of conditions.
Our Sawtry clinic covers a wide area from Peterborough to Huntingdon and St. Neots, while at the Steeple Morden clinic we receive patients from Baldock and Royston, plus Ashwell and all over North Herts.
From Deeping St James, our most rural clinic attracts patients from Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough, while in London, our primary interest is helping the local domestic and business community in Holborn, Chancery Lane and Russell Square.
Does osteopathy really work?
YES. Which Health 1997 found that osteopathy is the most widely used discipline in complementary therapy. Osteopathy achieved an amazing 96% overall satisfaction whilst 92% of patients felt osteopathy had improved their condition. The House of Lords Committee recently acknowledged there is scientific evidence to support osteopathy.
Ultimately, our patients are our best evidence. Visit our testimonials page and see what some of our patients have to say.
Am I too old for osteopathic care?
More and more people are consulting osteopaths in their later years. With concerns about medications and the side effects of drugs, safe natural osteopathic care is growing in popularity. Many people are simply told to put up with their pain, as it is due to their age. This does not have to be the case. Restoring better body function can help improve mobility, vitality, strength, balance and endurance. As we get older, and wiser, the simplicity and effectiveness of osteopathy becomes more and more obvious.
What does osteopathy feel like?
An osteopath helps the body heal itself by initially diagnosing the cause and nature of the complaint and then using manual techniques to address the structures involved in the disease, pain or illness. Osteopaths use their eyes and hands to identify structural problems that are preventing the body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing. Treatment is adjusted to the requirements of the individual and is aimed at improving whole body function. The basis for a successful treatment lies in the art of palpation (touch), which, in the hands of a skilful practitioner is effective, painless, exact and safe.
What does acupuncture feel like?
Many people who have never had acupuncture before are naturally concerned at the thought of having needles inserted into their body. It is important to remember that the needles used are usually as fine as a hair and very different from needles conventionally used to give injections or take blood. Also acupuncture does not generally hurt - it can give rise to a needling sensation but this is rarely described as 'pain'. Many patients choose not to look at the needles as they are inserted and this can help them to relax.
The response to the stimulus of the needles varies from patient to patient. You may feel a slight prick as the needle first punctures the skin. Many people describe the sensation that follows as a "dragging" or "slight aching" sensation. This is usually short lived, only lasting while the energy flows around that point.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture works by affecting the flow of vital energy (Qi) in the body by the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. These points have been developed empirically over thousands of years in the East. It is useful in thinking about this energy to realise that now modern science has shown us that everything is energy.
The earliest documentary evidence of acupuncture occurs in the Huang De Nei Jing (the Yellow emperors' inner classic) which is dated at around 200BC and refers to it as an already existent complete system. By affecting these dynamic points of energy flow we aim to rebalance the body and restore healing.
There are theories using western science to explain acupuncture's mechanisms, which involve the stimulus affecting the central nervous system, or releasing muscular and soft tissue constrictions physically. However, so far we do not fully understand the response from the body in enough detail. In years to come the scientific knowledge of the brain and nervous, endocrine and immune systems may yield definitive answers.
What does acupuncture treat?
Too many conditions to list, but the World Health Organization has reported more than forty three conditions acupuncture is considered to help, including allergies, asthma, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, colds, flu, constipation/diarrhoea, depression, gynaecological disorders, headache, heart problems, infertility, insomnia, pre-menstrual syndrome, sciatica, sports injuries, tendonitis and stress.
What can I expect to happen at my first appointment?
The acupuncturist will sit down with you and ask about your medical history, likes/dislikes, sleeping habits, emotions, stressors, cravings, energy levels and when they drop, and an array of questions to get an idea what kind of "terrain" your body is showing, dry, wet, deficient or excess, hot or cold. We may examine your pulse and your tongue. These give us clues as to what is going on inside your body. The acupuncturist will create a treatment plan for you based on all the information gathered in the initial session. Depending on how long you have had the condition and the nature of the signs and symptoms, it could be a quick fix or it may take some time.
Can I give blood after having Acupuncture?
If you have received Acupuncture from a qualified health professional who is registered with a statutory body such as the GOsC or BAcC, as we are, you are clear to donate your blood immediately.
Further information from the NHS Blood Doners service is available here. TOP