In the UK today there are two types of acupuncture, Traditional Chinese and Western Medical. Both use the application of needles although the choice of points used can vary between the two.
In Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, points are chosen using a traditional diagnostic approach which typically includes examination of the tongue, eye and pulses.
In Western Medical Acupuncture, treatment is only given following an orthodox diagnosis. It is because of this that most practitioners are regulated healthcare professionals such as GP's, osteopaths and physiotherapists, who can perform testing to diagnose the cause of the problem.
In Western Medical Acupuncture the points chosen are based on neurophysiological principles and work by creating several physiological effects, both local to needle and within other areas of the body. These include vasodilation (opening up of blood vessels), resulting in increased blood flow and oxygen. The needle also modulates the nervous system causing muscle relaxation and a reduction in pain.
All in all these changes work to great effect to generate a healing response both locally and systemically within the body.
For further information please see the British Medical Acupuncture Society website via the links section.