What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical Acupuncture, or as it is often referred to Dry Needling, is a Western medical technique that focuses on relief from pain, release of Trigger Points and tight bands of contracture in the muscles. Very fine acupuncture needles are inserted into the muscles directly in to Trigger Points as well as on the flow of the pain pathway and peripheral nerves. On occasions needles may also be inserted in to the ligaments, tendons or knee cartilage should your condition require it.

As is standard practice throughout Europe, Focused Therapy London only use good quality, sterile, single use stainless steel acupuncture needles when undertaking any form of Acupuncture treatment.


Please be aware, should Medical Acupuncture not be asked for when the Confirmed Appointment was requested to be scheduled; or, by the absolute latest during any replied to pre-Appointment Covid-19 Screening, it may not on occasions be possible for Focused Therapy London to provide this therapy during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is due to all of the enhanced protocols Focused Therapy London is currently implementing around and in-between all Appointments to minimise potential risk of Covid transmission during each Appointment.

Please see the Covid-19 Policy page for further details.

What are the main objectives of Medical Acupuncture?

The main objectives of Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) are as follows:

  • Significantly decrease both chronic and acute muscular, myofascial and neurologial pain and release neurotransmitters which block pain messages to the brain
  • Release of active Trigger Points and tight bands of contracture in muscles
  • Improved blood flow in the localised area treated and can aid in the decrease of inflammation (oedema)
  • A rapid method of returning muscles to healthy functional ability and length
  • Can be used to start treatment of muscle, tendon and ligament damage immediately after injury (acute stage), when other therapy treatments are not possible, to promote quicker healing
  • Can treat numerous Medical Conditions for which massage based therapies are not suitable due to inflammatory response in the area or various other medical reasons

Conditions that Medical Acupuncture is primarily used to treat

Some of the main uses of Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) are for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Acute and Chronic Pain
  • Anti-inflammatory Response
  • Early Treatment of Acute Injury
  • Musculoskeletal and Neuromuscular Disorders
  • Pinched Nerves (Radiculapathies)
  • Taut bands of Contracted Muscle
  • Trigger Points
  • Chronic Lower Back Pain
  • Frozen Shoulder Injury
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Herniated Disc / Slipped Disk / Bulging Disc Pain and Related Symptoms
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Temporomandibular Joint (Jaw) Pain and Stiffness
  • Tennis Elbow

Can Medical Acupuncture be used to treat Nerve Conditions?

The specific technique of Western Medical Acupuncture I am trained in is called Functional Integrated Dry Needling and is a very important technique in providing a management of pain in musculoskeletal as well as neurological conditions. In layman’s terms, this means the treatments focus is not just concerned with conditions which create pain in the muscles, tendon, ligament, myofascia (muscle covering) and joints, but can also treat pain and other disorders relating to the nerves and nervous system.

So the answer is yes, with many nerve related pain issues and other neurological or neuromuscular symptoms it works well. In addition, Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) often provides much faster, as well as significantly longer lasting relief, from symptoms than massage based therapies alone. I have also found needling in to a muscular area can additionally help to greatly relieve nerve related pain in advance of receiving a massage treatment in certain cases, making a massage treatment much more comfortable to receive after needling has been applied first.

Additional Information in relation to Medical Acupuncture

A Trigger Point is a hyper irritable and palpable nodule in the myofascia (muscle covering) in a taut band of muscle that, when pressure is applied to it, can create localised tenderness or pain in the direct area of that trigger point or can refer pain elsewhere in the body.
The simple answer is no.

Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) is a Western Medical technique and is very different in just about every aspect including philosophy, theory, needling technique and in many ways what it hopes to achieve in comparison to Eastern Acupuncture methods such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture or Five Elements Acupuncture, which are the most common Eastern Acupuncture techniques practised in the UK and Europe.

Just to give you an idea of how many different types and categories of Acupuncture there are, the following also exist, and I have no doubt there are many others: Japanese Acupuncture, Korean Acupuncture, Electro Acupuncture, Auricular Acupuncture (Microsystems: Ear), Master Tung's Magic (Acupuncture) Points, Scalp Acupuncture, Non-Insertion Acupuncture, Wrist and Ankle Microsystems Acupuncture and Facial Enhancement Acupuncture.
No, Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) can be used as part of a massage based treatment with advanced agreement after the Client due to receive needling has pre-signed a separate Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) consent form. If you are interested in only having some acupuncture needles during any treatment, but you also want a massage, just notify Focused Therapy London that this is the case when the Appointment Booking Request is made.
As with any invasive procedure there are certain risks involved with techniques that penetrate the skin, but in the hands of a properly trained practitioner these are limited. Like any treatment there are possible complications. While these complications are rare in occurrence, they are real and should be considered prior to giving your consent to receive a Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) treatment.

Based on the benefits I have found from treating my Clients with acupuncture needles, I have undertaken, and am in the process of qualifying in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture, on a course that is highly focused on teaching safe and effective deep Acupuncture needling techniques from day one. Safe practice in any Acupuncture needling based treatment, as well as my Client's openness to being willing to try acupuncture needling should they not have done so before, are always my top concerns.

Risks of the Medical Acupuncture Procedure:

There are various risks associated with any form of Acupuncture treatment. The most serious risk being accidental puncture of a lung (Pneumothorax). If this were to occur, it may likely only require a chest x-ray and no further treatment. The symptoms of shortness of breath may last for several days to weeks. A more severe lung puncture can require hospitalisation and re-inflation of the lung. This is a rare complication and in skilled hands should not be a cause for concern. Precautionary needling techniques are additionally always undertaken in any areas over internal organs to guard against accidental damage to these structures during acupuncture needling.

Other risks include:

  • Drowsiness or Sleepiness (if affected do not drive or operate machinery afterwards)
  • Minor Bleeding or Bruising
  • Pain (usually only briefly when the needle first enters the skin)
  • Existing symptoms temporarily worsen after treatment (usually a good sign)
  • Fainting (uncommon and usually in first treatment session)
  • Temporary Nausea (uncommon and usually in first treatment session) or Vomiting (very rare in case of intense Nausea)
  • Infection (rare complication)
  • Nerve Injury (very rare complication)
Bruising is a reasonably common occurrence and should not be of concern unless you are taking blood thinning medication. As the needles are very small and do not have a cutting edge, the likelihood of any significant tissue trauma from having an acupuncture needle inserted is unlikely, especially as I am inclined towards a gentler form of needling than may be received from some other Medical Acupuncture therapists.

Risks are listed on my Dry Needling consent form, which will be given to you to read and sign if you decide to undertake Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) with me for the first time. Risks can therefore be considered in advance of undertaking this treatment and should you have any concerns or questions these can be discussed during your Appointment before you choose if you would like to receive acupuncture needling.
Please be aware there are a few medical conditions that can be antagonised by an acupuncture needle based treatment. These fall within three main categories based on which medical condition you are currently experiencing (or in some cases have experienced previously):

  • Total Contraindications which entirely preventing you receiving an acupuncture needle based treatment in any area of your body for the good of your health
  • Special Circumstances where written or verbal Medical Consent and any guidelines for treatment are required before it is possible to receive an acupuncture needle based treatment
  • Local Contraindications which prevent you receiving an acupuncture needle based treatment in certain areas or in certain ways for the good of your health. Local Contraindications can also include medical conditions that must remain covered during your treatment to ensure no cross contamination or potential infection occurs
Should you have any diagnosed or undiagnosed Medical Condition it is always recommended that you check with your GP before scheduling an Appointment to ensure Acupuncture is suitable under your specific circumstances.

Please note: should you have requested Medical Acupuncture during any Appointment with any medical condition without already having checked that it is suitable for an acupuncture needle based treatment the following will often apply:

  • I may have to look up your medical condition during your Appointment to make sure that treating you with an acupuncture needle based therapy is appropriate; and
  • I may be unable to provide you with Medical Acupuncture during your Appointment or restricted in my capacity to do so
Where an acupuncture needle based treatment is not possible I will always do my best to offer alternative Therapies should they be suitable based on your medical condition, but it should be noted that if this is not possible, or should you not wish to receive any alternative Therapies I may offer you at that time, your Appointment will become a Missed Appointment and no treatment will be able to be provided.
Tui Na Chinese Medical Massage is often used as a part of any Medical Acupuncture (Dry Needling) treatment should time permit.

Myofascial Release Therapy is automatically incorporated, as Myofascial Release is a fundamental part of any musculoskeletal Acupuncture needle based treatment, even if not undertaken in a hands on way. Based on how you feel on the day, I might also utilise other Incorporated Techniques as may be appropriate for your specific condition.