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Recent developments in acupuncture and physiotherapy

There has been an increasing level of research activity in acupuncture in recent years in the West.

The choice of acupuncture is supported by a strong emphasis on clinical reasoning. One recent model under consideration offers a rational basis for point selection (Bradnam-Roberts 2007). Examples of recent research activity into the way acupuncture works include the various functional MRI studies which have been performed and which appear to show that acupuncture produces changes in areas of the brain that have important roles in pain relief. It remains unclear whether deep or superficial needling is required, and whether one is better than the other.

Within Physiotherapy, there are currently approximately 43 017 Physiotherapists registered with the Health Profession Council (HPC) (HPC 2008), with approximately 4908 Physiotherapists practising acupuncture as a registered member of an approved body. Currently, this equates to almost 12% of the profession. In 2001, just seven years ago, there were only 500 Physiotherapists registered with licensed professional groups (Kerr et al 2001).

The two groups that host the largest number of Physiotherapists within their membership are the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) and the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS).Within Medway Adult Physiotherapy Service, acupuncture is used as a one of a range of approaches to the problem of musculoskeletal pain and is used integral to a plan of treatment that is agreed at the outset with the patient. The primary aim is to encourage pain relief and muscle relaxation in order that an exercise based rehabilitation plan can be more effectively carried out.

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  1. Bradnam L (2003), "A proposed clinical reasoning model for Western Acupuncture", New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 31(1), pp40-45
  2. Kerr DP, Walsh DM, Baxter GD. (2001), "A study of the use of acupuncture in Physiotherapy", Complementary Therapies in Medicine, (9), pp21-27
  3. Health Professionals register >