Health treatments

Acupuncture: A guide

by The Simplyhealth Team

Your questions about having acupuncture treatment, answered by our clinical team here at Simplyhealth.


Scroll down to find out:

  • What is acupuncture?
  • What does acupuncture treat?
  • What happens during an acupuncture appointment?
  • Is my acupuncturist qualified?
  • What's the difference between western medical acupuncture and traditional acupuncture?
What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment where fine needles are inserted into specific points in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

What does acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture is reported to provide benefits for a wide range of medical conditions including musculoskeletal conditions such as:


  • chronic spinal pain
  • joint pain
  • dental pain.


Acupuncture is also recommended as a consideration in the treatment of chronic tension-type headaches by The National Institute for Health and Care (NICE) guidelines.

The Simplyhealth Plan

Like a subscription for your health.

Considering acupuncture treatment? You could claim up to £350* back on your acupuncture costs each year with the Simplyhealth Plan, as well as a host of other benefits.

*Based on a Level 4 Simplyhealth Plan

What happens during an acupuncture appointment?

During the initial session, a full assessment of your general health and medical history will be performed, as well as a physical examination.


The results from this assessment will determine the points on your body for the needles to be inserted. These are called acupuncture points.


You will be asked to sit or lie down and the needles will be inserted into the acupuncture points. The fine needles are usually a few centimetres long, and they should be single-use, pre-sterilised needles that are disposed of immediately after use.


On average, up to 12 different points on the body may be used during a session. The needles may be inserted to just under the skin, but they can be inserted deeper into the muscle. 


The needles will be left in position for a period of time. This will be determined by the practitioner and their assessment. You may feel a slight tingling or dull ache around the needle site. However, you should not feel sharp pain. If you do, inform your practitioner. right away

Is my acupuncturist qualified?

There is no statutory regulation of acupuncturists. However, they may be required to register with their local authority. Acupuncturists can be a recognised medical practitioner such as a nurse, doctor, physiotherapist or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.


The British Acupuncture Council holds an Accredited Register of practitioners, which has been approved by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

Acupuncture icon
What's the difference between western medical acupuncture and traditional acupuncture?


Western medical acupuncture is performed following a medical diagnosis. Specific insertion of the needles stimulates the sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles, which result in the body producing natural pain-relieving endorphins.


Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy flows through the body in channels called meridians. This is known as qi (pronounced “chee”). Traditional acupuncturists believe that when the flow of the qi is not free this can cause pain and illness and that acupuncture can help restore the free flow of qi.

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