3 x Tips to think of before getting Acupuncture


How to find the best Acupuncturist for you in Hobart

So, you’ve decided that Acupuncture is the treatment for you. Or maybe, you’ve heard someone raving about how good it is and that “it fixed my back pain!”.

Well, once you’ve decided that you’re going to hunt down a person licensed and PAID to legally stab people for some amazing health benefits, how do you go about finding an appropriately qualified person?

Tip 1

Know the difference between “dry needling” and “Acupuncture” and know how to look for a registered “Acupuncturist”.

Dry Needling is a technique where a practitioner locates trigger points, or tender painful muscles that can typically have referral pain patterns associated. This is where the practitioner will apply a local needle technique with the intention of releasing the muscle or dysfunction.

The training for this technique is commonly 2 x days and many therapists use this as a way to bridge out of massage therapy or have an add on technique to give them more flexibility. 

A person labelled “Acupuncturist” is different.

If you go onto the AHPRA register of practitioners and find an Acupuncturist, you can trust that they have had at least 4-5 years of training in the field of clinical Acupuncture and carry the title of “Chinese Medicine Practitioners” and maybe even have qualifications as a herbalist, which means more in depth training in prescribing raw herbs.

But some might ask the question “Why should I care? My therapist gives me dry needling and massage so I get more……etc etc”.

And it’s a fair question. So let me break it down for you.

1: Safety

Think about all the blood vessels, arteries, veins, tissues, joint structures, organs and other areas of the body I haven’t listed. Depending on what areas of the body someone might have treated, totally different structures and depths of needling might be required. Consideration has to made about needle technique, depth, size of needle, type of stimulation, what to avoid and many other facets of treatment.

How much training does it take for your practitioner to become sufficiently skilled at doing Acupuncture on YOUR body? 

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to know that your practitioner had the highest level of training using Acupuncture needles, so that you could be totally at ease and confident that you had a competent practitioner that was going to give you the safest and most effective treatment?

Well the answer is, AHPRA has already done the vetting for you.

Who is AHPRA?

They are an organisation that registers and vets Allied Health practitioners to protect the public.

Unfortunately though, due to there being no protections in place for scope of practice, when the initial registration went through for Acupuncture, it was decided to only protect the title of “Acupuncturist”, as opposed to protecting the scope of practice, or even the other title of “Acupuncture”.

Now I know many therapists feel like scope should not be restricted and that everyone should have the freedom to learn whatever it is that helps the patient. However, I feel like it’s impossible to be the best at everything….and in that sense:

I would never consider dabbling in spinal manipulation, because the people that dedicate their entire training to that are Osteopaths and Chiropractors. I would just refer you to them.

So, try and work out for yourself how skilled you want your practitioner to be in the art of Acupuncture. And if the answer is that you want someone confident, competent, with the highest level of experience, then an Acupuncturist arguably has the highest level of training in using Acupuncture needles.

But if you have had Dry Needling before and feel like you want that, an Acupuncturist has the skills to provide that specific technique, because that is one technique that was described and used in the ancient texts of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. But it is only part of the many techniques that an Acupuncturist has at its disposal when considering a treatment plan.

Tip number 2:

Try and find someone that has a particular interest in the pain, condition or health issue you are facing.

Practitioners are often interested in certain areas of health, for reasons not always known.

For example, my partner Anna Helms at Golden Lotus Acupuncture is interested in Fertility and Women’s Health. The only caveat is that Chinese Medicine has the capabilities of covering such a wide area that many practitioners will feel confident in a range of health concerns.

However, finding that practitioner that has a particular interest in a field, means that they may have done more focused Continuing professional development in the areas you’re looking for help.

In my case, those special interests are in pain management, function and performance , so I have a passion for involving myself in seminars and CPD activities that continue to breathe new life and understanding into those areas to help clients and patients get the benefit.

Tip 3

Consider the time frame of treatment

The length of treatment varies from person to person, but depending on the complexity it is almost never 1 treatment that will fix an issue. And walking a few steps of the path doesn’t get you to the final goal.

Once you have an idea of time frames, you can start to formulate a realistic idea of how you can meet your goals.

And at least if you commit to treatment, if all doesn’t go as planned, you know you have actually given it a fair shot.

Often the expectations of treatment outcome far outweigh the reality of what  Acupuncture is capable of. So even though Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is fabulous, it is grounded in a real understanding of physiology and works with the natural healing response of the body.

Acupuncture has thousands of years of clinical evaluation, throughout which thousands or millions of observations have been made, but physiological changes take time to manifest, even though anecdotal stories exist of profound changes.

So once you have researched your practitioner, found someone that seems to fit the bill and started to get an idea of the commitment of time it might take, then it’s time to take the leap and experience Acupuncture for yourself.

Wishing you well on your journey.

Acupuncture Hobart

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