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Acupuncture: what's the point?
  1. Adam Meakins
  1. Correspondence to Adam Meakins, Department of Physiotherapy, Spire Bushey Hospital, Heathbourne Road, Bushey, Herts WD23 1RD, UK; adammeakins{at}

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Acupuncture is a widely used treatment in many different fields from pain management to sports medicine, and it often creates much discussion and debate. What actually constitutes acupuncture? Traditional Eastern acupuncture involves piercing the skin with fine filament needles at specific points located on meridians around the body to restore the flow of energy called Qi, which when blocked is believed to cause pain and dysfunction.1

However, in the Western hemisphere, acupuncture is explained in more physiological terms of local tissue inflammatory responses and descending pain inhibition. Recently, another needle-based treatment called ‘dry needling’ has grown in popularity. It places needles not into specific points on meridians but rather directly into areas that are believed to be hypertonic muscle knots or bands referred to as ‘trigger points’. Dry needling explains its effects as the disruption of these areas by the needle touching or tapping the motor end plates and other small nociceptive nerve endings in or …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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