Western medical acupuncture

Western medical acupuncture is a therapeutic modality involving the insertion of fine needles. The images-5term “Western medical acupuncture” is used to distinguish it from acupuncture used as part of Chinese traditional medicine. Western medical acupuncture regards acupuncture as part of conventional medicine rather than a complete alternative medicine.

Western medical acupuncture is currently used by conventional healthcare practitioners, most commonly in primary care. Practitioners of Western medical acupuncture tend to pay less attention than classical Chinese acupuncturists to choosing one point over another, while classical Chinese acupuncturists generally choose classical points as the best places to stimulate the nervous system (Western medical acupuncture 2008).

images-11. Trigger points vs acupuncture points: A myofascial trigger point is defined as a localized, hyper irritable nodule nested within a palpable taut band of skeletal muscle or fascia. Trigger point injections with local anesthetics have been performed to alleviate musculoskeletal pain since the early 1930s. No significant differences in subjective pain have been reported when comparing the effects of lidocaine injection with “dry needle stimulation” of trigger points. This suggests that the site-specific needling of the trigger point may be exclusively responsible for the observed anti-nociceptive effects.

 imagesThe trigger point insertion of the needle (but not always acupuncture point insertion) affects sensitized nociceptors. Thus, dry needle stimulation of myofascial active trigger points produces greater activation of sensitized polymodal type receptors, resulting in greater pain relief. The practitioners of Western medical acupuncture use classical points (acupuncture points; acupoints) based on the assumption that they are probably optimal for sensory stimulation of the nervous system.

Thus, it is conceivable to say that the effective points have been named differently; trigger points in conventional Western medicine (CWM) and acupoints in traditional Chine medicine (TCM). Trigger points associated with myofascial and visceral pains often lie within the areas of referred pain but many are located at a distance from them. Although discovered independently and labeled differently, this close correlation suggests the same underlying neural mechanisms (Trigger point acupuncture 2012)

images-22. Circulation of Qi vs neuromodulation: Historical nomenclature describes acupoints as distinct anatomic coordinates lying along parallel longitudinal arrays of energy (Qi) channels (meridians) in the body. Needle stimulation of these points is believed to facilitate the flow of Qi along these meridians; however, this concept is still under scientific observation and examination.

Western medical acupuncture no longer adheres to concepts such as Yin/Yang and circulation of Qi. Western medical acupuncture acts mainly by stimulating the nervous system, and its known modes of action include local anti-dromic axon reflexes, segmental and extra-segmental neuromodulation, and other central nervous system effects.

Trigger point acupuncture provides significantly more relief on chronic low back pain and neck pain as compared with standard acupuncture.  The effects of standard acupuncture on chronic myofascial pain may be as effective as trigger point acupuncture (Myofacial trigger points 2011)