Bill Ferguson
Registered Osteopath, Cranial Osteopath, Acupuncture and Sports Injuries
Tenterden Osteopath
Location: Home | Osteopathic Information | Acupuncture



History of Acupuncture

There is a common misconception that acupuncture was invented by the Chinese. It is true that the oldest written records are Chinese, but these only go back 3,000 years. In fact the oldest evidence we have of acupuncture being used to treat a person comes from Europe.

Several years ago the frozen body of a prehistoric hunter was found in a melting glacier between Austria and Italy. Carbon dating showed that he died around 5,000 years ago and his body was so well preserved that it was possible to identify where he had been treated with acupuncture for arthritic pain in his spine and for stomach pain. On post mortem it was discovered that his stomach contained a parasite worm infestation and there was osteoarthritis degeneration in his spine. The treatment points were the same points that we would use today to treat pain in those parts of the body.


Modern Acupuncture

The style of acupuncture that I practise is called Western Medical acupuncture, to differentiate it from Traditional Chinese acupuncture. There is a growing body of medical research that helps us to understand the effects of acupuncture in terms of anatomy and physiology. We know for example that putting an acupuncture needle into a back or shoulder muscle has the effect of drawing more blood into the area. With this increased circulation the muscle is warmed and "flushed through" giving a similar result to massage - increased relaxation and easing of pain.

This increase in circulation we call a "local effect", there are other "central effects" that happen at the same time. The stimulation of acupuncture causes the brain to release endorphins, which are opiate-like chemicals that reduce pain and make you feel relaxed. Many people feel pleasantly drowsy after acupuncture treatment for this reason.


Strong and Weak Responders to Acupuncture

Some people are much more sensitive to treatment than others which makes it very difficult to prescribe a standard "dose" of acupuncture. In practice I find that roughly 1 person in 10 responds strongly to acupuncture and does best with a short treatment and extremely fine needles. At the other extreme there are some weak responders who seem unaffected by acupuncture and for them I would suggest using other methods of treatment.

Most people are somewhere between these two extremes and generally will do best with on average, 5–8 treatments over a 4–8 week period. This is only a guideline, at your initial consultation I will assess your condition and discuss my findings with you before we agree on your individual treatment plan.


What conditions respond well to Acupuncture

Acupuncture for low back pain and base of neck pain
Acupuncture for low back and base of neck pain
  • Painful trigger points. Typically in low back and shoulder muscles.
  • Frozen shoulder and tennis elbow.
  • Joint pain due to arthritis. Typically knee, hip and hand joints.
  • Headaches and migraines, trapped nerves.
  • Functional bowel problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Congested sinuses and chronic catarrh, hay fever and allergic rhinitis.
  • Nausea, especially morning sickness during pregnancy.
Acupuncture response rates

Acupuncture Response Rates

Most Likely to Respond
Muscle and joint pain, arthritis and headaches, IBS and gynae problems

Less Likely to Respond
Psychiatric disorders, anxiety, depression, neuropathic pain, shingles

Least Likely to Respond
ME and MS

For acupuncture to be the treatment of choice you need to have a functional nervous system. Much of the benefit of acupuncture relies on the brain being aware of the stimulus given to the body by the acupuncture needle and if the nervous system is damaged and not able to carry this information I would not expect such good results.

See also information on electro acupuncture


Contact Bill Ferguson
Osteopath Tenterden

Book an osteopathy appointment now
Tel: 01580 762754

Bill Ferguson
Tenterden Osteopath
2 St Benets Court
Tenterden, Kent
Tel: 01580 762754



© Bill Ferguson
Last Updated: 8 February, 2015