Acupuncture for Pain Relief

  • Reference Number: HEY-576/2017
  • Departments: Pain Medicine


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your treatment.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not meant to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is acupuncture?

The Chinese discovered acupuncture thousands of years ago and believe that the body has channels (meridians) in which energy known as Chi flows.  When a person is unwell or in pain the energy channels become blocked at specific points.

Acupuncture became accepted by the Western world in the 1970s.  Research has shown that the placing of acupuncture needles in specific points causes the production of pain relieving hormones (endorphins).  It has also shown that acupuncture needles stimulate nerve fibres that interfere with pain messages that are travelling from your pain to your brain.

Acupuncture will be performed by a nurse or doctor who has undertaken special training.

Why do I need acupuncture?

A member of the healthcare team has recommended that you receive a course of acupuncture for pain relief.  The course will involve treatment once a week for six weeks. Then once every six weeks up to ten sessions when you will be discharged back to your GP.

Acupuncture is not a cure but it is a treatment that can help to relieve pain. The effect of acupuncture differs for each person and does not necessarily help all those suffering with pain.  Pain relief may happen after one treatment or following three to four treatments.  Pain relief can last from days to a number of months.

Can there be any complications or risks?

The risks associated with acupuncture are minimal. They can include:

  • Bruising
  • Nausea or sickness
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Drowsiness / tiredness
  • Temporary increase in pain
  • Allergies / infection

How do I prepare for the acupuncture?

No preparation is required, but it is important to tell the nurse if you are pregnant, diabetic, epileptic, have a blood disorder or take aspirin or warfarin.

What will happen?

At your first appointment a nurse will explain the treatment.  You will be asked to sign a consent form.  You will be placed in a private area.  You may be asked to remove or loosen some of your clothes to allow the nurse to treat the affected area. The nurse will select the acupuncture points and insert needles.  This can cause a stinging pain followed by a dull ache. The needles are left in for approximately 20 minutes.  Once the treatment is complete the needles are destroyed.

What happens afterwards?

You are given an appointment for the next session or if you have completed the course, you will be given an appointment to be reviewed by your doctor or nurse.

You may feel tired after the treatment.  This should not affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.  If you find that this is a problem, please ensure you are escorted to and from the department by a relative or friend.

The information in this leaflet is not intended to replace your doctor’s advice.  If you require more information or have any questions please speak to your doctor or contact the Pain Clinic Outpatients’ Department, East Riding Community Hospital, Beverley

Pain Service: (01482) 478868 / 336440

In the event of an emergency and outside normal working hours (9.00am – 4.00pm) of the Pain Clinic please contact your own GP

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.