Acupuncture Explained


Many people coming to The Bower Mount Clinic are unsure if acupuncture from our highly acclaimed acupuncturist Craig Minto might be able to help with their particular health care problems. So here is an explanation that may help. Oriental acupuncture is a deceptively simple form of medical treatment (Chinese Medicine) involving the insertion of extremely fine needles into carefully located parts of the body. However, behind this apparently straightforward act sits a huge body of knowledge and philosophy, tried and tested over thousands of years and on millions of people.

Acupuncture is all about creating ‘balance’ in all the systems of the body. Human beings are hugely complex both physically and psychologically. We all need enough rest, play,work, love and laughter, at the right time and in the right amount to maintain our health. Any excess or deficiency leads to imbalance and eventually dis-ease. The holistic approach of Chinese Medicine allows the practitioner insight into the heart of the patient’s life and condition, taking into account all of the contributory factors that can result in illness. The aim is to awaken and assist the body’s own powerful and natural self-healing mechanisms .In this way acupuncture can help in a very wide ranging conditions and help improve ones feeling of well-being.

A ‘symptom’ is a sign of disharmony within the individual indicating that their body is out of balance. Every patient is different so the acupuncture diagnosis needs to look at and treat each individual and their unique imbalances and circumstances. Patients really appreciate the attention to detail and depth of analysis that an acupuncture consultation and treatment provides. It often gives them a clearer understanding of why their body is out of balance and what they can do in the future to prevent further problems. 

We all know that at times in our lives we just don’t feel ourselves, something that is often not detectable on the usual blood tests and scans. However, we do know what it feels like to feel ‘well’ and a course of acupuncture can often restore this sense of harmony and well-being.

If you have any specific questions with regards to your own health needs, and how acupuncture may be able to help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Autumn is upon us!



Sadly the warm weather is slipping away, the days are drawing in and before you know it, you’ll be once more wrapped up in thick winter woollies. We all at The Bower Mount Clinic hope you managed to make the most of the summer, soaked up some vitamin D and kept yourself in good shape for the winter ahead.

One of the challenges our bodies face with colder weather is that the muscles, tendons and ligaments that move and support our spines tighten up as the temperature drops. Also if joints are already inflamed, a drop in barometric pressure or temperature can aggravate swelling and pain.   

Over the years we have seen that autumn is a time when many of our patients find that an “Osteopathic Service” helps to keep their spines and joints mobile and pain free for the coming winter months. If you begin to feel stiff in the mornings or when doing everyday activities consider having a check up and osteopathic treatment to help prepare your body for winter.

Autumn is also a time to consider doing more regular stretching exercises to help maintain flexibility.

One very simple exercise to help maintain flexibility in the lower back is the Knee-to-chest stretch.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended.
  2. Lift and bend your right leg, bringing the knee toward your chest. Grasp your knee or shin with your right hand, and pull your leg as far as it will comfortably go.
  3. Remain in the knee-to-chest position while tightening your abdominal muscles and pressing your spine into the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Do the same with your left leg.
  6. Do the same with both legs at once.
  7. Repeat the sequence several times.


Please note do not attempt any specific exercises without checking with your Doctor or osteopath especially if you are experiencing any current symptoms in your spine. Always stop any exercise if it gives you any pain or discomfort.

Acupuncture Treatment For Arthritis of Hip and Knee Joints

Acupuncture is an ancient treatment modality used for a wide range of physical and
mental/emotional conditions. By stimulating acupuncture points on the body one can
provoke a healing process in the body, including the release of pain killing chemicals
produced in the brain such as endorphins.

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and knee are two very common presentations treated in The Bower Mount Clinic. Indeed 1 in 5 adults over 45 years old has OA of the knee joints and 1 in 9 OA of the Hip joints.

Naturally, as we age, ‘wear and tear’ affects the bodies joints. Conventional treatment
includes non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, which although generally safe in the short
term can cause issues if used over a longer period; for example bleeding in the stomach.
Generally treatment with acupuncture for OA usually involves a short course of treatment, once a week for up to six sessions. In the majority of patients benefits will be experienced during this period including less pain, better mobility and a reduction in medication. At the end of this course patients often return for occasional maintenance treatments.

Several systematic reviews of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of peripheral joints/knee and
hip/knee alone have concluded that it is statistically superior to usual physician care, Kwon 2007;White 2007; Manheimer 2007, 2010). The benefits of treatment can often be enhanced by an exercise programme. The expert consensus guidelines of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (Zhang 2008, 2009), recognise that acupuncture has clinically relevant benefits and a favourable safety profile, and they recommend acupuncture as a treatment option for osteoarthritis. If you would like to see if acupuncture can help you with the pain and stiffness in your knees or hips contact The Bower Mount Clinic and arrange an appointment to see our highly experienced and respected acupuncturist Craig Minto.

Osteopathy and Exercise Therapy in the Management of Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis

The National Council for Osteopathic Research have published a summary of key Osteopathically relevant literature on the subject of Exercise therapy in the management of hip and knee Osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a very common condition affecting over 8.5 million people in the UK. In OA the cartilage in the joints starts to wear away and the muscles around the joint tighten resulting in pain often aggravated by activity.

Research shows that mobilisation of the joint and appropriate exercise or physical activity is beneficial in
all patient groups, irrespective of the severity of the condition and pain levels experienced. There is strong
evidence that exercise reduces OA pain and improves physical function.

What is more, benefits of keeping the joints moving and exercise persist for months even after activity has
ceased. There is also evidence that suggests exercise to help strengthen muscles around joints affected
by OA also helps reduce pain.

Osteopaths at The Bower Mount Clinic can not only advise you on what exercises might be helpful for your
pain but also help mobilise affected joints and set you on the path to greater pain free activities.

Acupuncture comes into its own in the Spring!

Spring is here early – which gives us all a welcome boost of warmer temperatures and sunshine. However, the change of season is seen as a challenge to the body and mind in Chinese philosophy. We mirror and reflect the cycles of life and when our system is balanced we are able to adjust with flexibility and fortitude during these times of change.

Contrary to the lovely optimistic feeling that spring can give us, I have seen a lot of patients in the last couple of weeks struggling with this change, be it coughs and colds, emotional discontent (the spring relates to irritability, frustration and anger in Chinese philosophy) or just not feeling themselves.

Here, acupuncture comes into its own, helping to regulate the changes in the natural rhythms our organism encounters during this period. I have many patients who come for a ‘maintenance’ treatment every 3 months around the times of the change of season for this very purpose.

Photo copyright Craig Minto

How to stay on your own two feet during the winter months

1 In cold/freezing temperatures, assume all wet areas are icy.

2 Wear footwear that provides good traction underfoot.

3 Walk in designated walkways; ice and snow may be more prevalent on unused shortcuts.

4 It’s vital to keep your hands and arms free to help with balance . Do NOT walk along looking at your phone!

5 Concentrate on walking, don’t look around but watch where you are stepping and do not multi-task.

6 Move slowly, tilt forward, walk flat-footed (with feet pointing outward) and extend arms slightly away from body to help maintain balance.

If you are unlucky enough to take a tumble and you are still in pain when you get home consider applying an ice pack to the affected area. Yes the thought of it won’t appeal in these wintry months but it is the best way to prevent swelling.

If your back is injured and you feel stiff after a day or two consider calling The Bower Mount Clinic and we will be happy to advise.

Exciting Research on beneficial long term effects of Acupuncture

A  recently published research paper examining the long term effect of acupuncture on chronic pain has been published in the highly prestigious journal PAIN.

The study addresses the uncertainty as to how long the effects of acupuncture treatment persist after a course of treatment.  The researchers determined the pain scores over time after acupuncture.  They used data collected across 29 trials and 17,922 patients from high-quality randomized trials of acupuncture for chronic pain.

Eligible chronic pain patients were those with nonspecific low back or neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic headache/migraine, or osteoarthritis of the knee.  

The analysis was split into two sections.  Firstly, 20 trials compared acupuncture to sham acupuncture and secondly, 18 trials compared acupuncture with no acupuncture, for example no treatment, wait-list, rescue medication, usual care, or protocol-guided care.  In most trials, the patients received 8 to 15 treatments over 10 to 12 weeks.   Patients who were allocated to a wait-list were offered treatment at the end of the trial period.

In the trials comparing acupuncture to no acupuncture the research shows that approximately 90% of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls was sustained at 12 months.  

This data suggest that there are underlying changes occurring with Acupuncture which have lasting health benefits. So one can conclude that  Acupuncture is not about just providing temporary symptom relief but a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain can provide effective long lasting pain relief.

This also means that acupuncture’s cost effectiveness will now look even more positive.

At The Bower Mount Clinic we are fortunate to have Craig Minto a highly experienced and much respected Acupuncturist. To make an appointment with Craig just call The Bower Mount Clinic on 01622 674656

Osteopathy and pregnancy

We regularly treat pregnant women at The Bower Mount Clinic with a variety of symptoms ranging from low to mid back pain to pelvic girdle pain (including sacro-iliac and/or pubic symphysis dysfunction), rib pain, sciatica as well as the general discomfort of later pregnancy.  As the baby grows in the womb, the extra weight can mean pregnant women are more likely to be prone to lower back pain. As breast weight increases, a woman’s upper back may also give her cause for complaint. Many different and gentle  treatment techniques can be used including soft-tissue massage, joint articulation, muscle energy techniques and Cranial Osteopathic approaches. The summer months seem particularly busy as many babies are born at this time of year.

The National Council for Osteopathic for Osteopathic Research (NCOR) report discussed the Osteopathic management of patients during pregnancy.(see link below)   The key findings of the report were:


  • One of the most frequently cited symptoms of pregnancy seen by osteopaths is low back pain.
  • Other symptoms include heartburn (for which there is acknowledgement of benefits of osteopathic treatment but currently little evidence), carpal tunnel syndrome, sacroiliac pain, mid thoracic pain and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Osteopathic Studies

  • One study has found evidence that pregnant patients who received osteopathic care experienced improved outcomes in labour and delivery compared to those who didn’t.
  • Another study has shown that osteopathic manipulative technique may help to improve or stop the deterioration of back-specific functioning in the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Non-supine positions during labour and delivery have been found to have clinical advantage

There are a number of other interesting points raised in the NCOR report. Click on the link to access it in full –

Many mothers who have benefited from osteopathic treatment at The Bower Mount Clinic bring their babies in for treatment too. Gentle cranial osteopathic treatment tailored to the babies needs seems to help soothe and relax babies – a benefit for both child and mother alike!



Help to Manage The Seasonal Misery of Hay Fever





The joys of spring bring a glimpse of the longer, warmer days that lay just around the corner, along with a pervading sense of optimism and renewal in the air.

For many, however, the season brings the dread of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and it’s associated misery of sneezing, red, itchy eyes and a runny or stuffy nose. This can affect the ability to work, sleep as well as concentrate – particularly affecting children’s school performance. According to the charity Allergy UK nearly 18 million people have hay fever in the UK. Although it is most common in children and teenagers, this can develop at any age.

Hay fever is caused by the body’s immune response to pollen. It mistakenly believes this to be a threat to the organism and produces too much histamine.

The majority of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen, which is released between May and August. Trees release their pollen between March and May and some other shrubs and weeds release pollen in late summer. This means the misery of hay fever is present from March to October for some.

Over the counter antihistamine medication is used by many to dampen down the exaggerated immune response, however, side affects can include:


Dry Mouth

Nausea and vomiting.
Restlessness or moodiness (in some children)
Blurred vision.

Many people are now aware of the benefits of acupuncture for managing and alleviating pain. However, fewer know that acupuncture can be effective in managing the symptoms of hay fever. Acupuncture works by helping the body to find the correct homeostatic balance. When blood and QI (the Chinese concept of life force) circulates correctly, health and wellbeing are achieved. The skill of the practitioner is to find the relevant acupuncture points to stimulate. This stimulus affects the nervous system, via the brain and spinal chord, the hormonal and circulatory systems.

Acupuncture, is a safe and complimentary treatment to western medicine, and many of my patients return annually to me to receive a ‘booster’ before the season commences. They find that they are able to reduce over the counter medication, and in some cases avoid them all together.

Top Tips

Keep windows shut at night and first thing in the morning
Stay indoors when the pollen count is high
Put some Vaseline or another nasal blocker just inside your nostrils to trap some of the pollen
Don’t mow the grass or sit in fields or large areas of grass
Wash your hands and face regularly
Avoid exposure to other allergens, such as pet fur, or environmental irritants, such as insect sprays or tobacco smoke
Try acupuncture, with a registered British Acupuncture Council Therapist
Try local honey (the theory being that it desensitizes you to pollen as it contains the heavy grained pollen which does not trigger allergic reaction)

If you would like to discuss your case further please contact me at the clinic – I would be happy to answer any of your questions.

Craig Minto MBAcC

Hot or Cold, Which Should I Use?

As spring is upon us and we are all getting more active again after the winter. The garden needs attention and many are getting back to sporting activities again. Getting back to exercise after a period of being relatively less active of course puts us at greater risk of minor injuries and general aches and pains.

We have all seen team medics running onto the pitch and applying ice packs or cold sprays to players writhing in real or simulated agony but when is it best to use ice and when is heat better? Recent research has now provided helpful guidance on this matter.

Cold/Ice Treatment

The best choice for the treatment of recent injuries is ice. This method is suitable for an injury or pain less than 72 hours old, or any injury that continues to produce swelling. Ice decreases pain, relieves muscle spasms, stimulates circulation in areas of discomfort and has a “calming” effect on nerves. It can also help reduce tissue damage by stimulating vasoconstriction – the closing of small blood vessels. This helps limit the amount of swelling and inflammation that occurs immediately after an injury.

The best way to use Ice treatment in the first 72 hours following an injury is at a frequency of 10-15mins every 60 to 90 Minutes. Ideally, ice should be used at this frequency until the ache/pain has decreased to the point where it is not felt at night or on waking in the morning but clearly the practicalities of life usually make it difficult to sustain this regularity so do what you can when you can. For best result on a leg or arm injury try to elevate the area as this will help to control any swelling. A top tip for any lower limb injury is to place a pillow under the bottom of your mattress so you leg will be slightly elevated while you sleep.

Ice treatment is best applied with a gel ice pack, or some ice in a plastic bag. Failing this a packet of frozen peas will do the job! It is best to wrap your ice pack or frozen vegetables in a tea towel before applying it to your skin. For hands or feet you can soak them in a bucket or bowl of icy water for a maximum 10-15 minutes per session.

Caution should be taken when using ice and Ice or cold packs should never be put directly on the skin and cold packs can be even colder than natural ice. Neither ice nor cold packs should be used for longer than 20 minutes and do not use ice on insensitive skin (areas where you have decreased skin sensation or numbness) or areas of poor circulation. Elderly people, young children and diabetics should be careful when using ice treatment. If in doubt please ask your health care practitioner for advice.

Heat applications


Heat promotes muscle relaxation, stimulates circulation and can relieve stiffness and chronic aches and pains in muscles. It is best used with chronic, long-standing problems or old injuries that have no inflammation or swelling.

Muscle soreness and spasms are the most common symptoms treated with heat. Its effectiveness is achieved by increasing tissue temperatures and blood flow, thereby drawing nutrients into the area to assist in the healing process. This treatment can also help ease the discomfort associated with osteoarthritis and help to increase range of motion and, therefore, decrease pain.

Heat treatment is usually applied with a dry or moist heat pack, hot bath, electric heat pad or infra-red heat lamps. Most people have a hot water bottle around the house and this is a convenient way of applying heat. As with ice always place a tea towel or cloth between the heat pad and your skin. Never apply heat for periods of longer than 20 Minutes.

Take care when applying heat and again It should not be placed over insensitive skin. Heat should not be applied to an injury until the swelling is controlled.

With heat applications if a repeat session is needed you should wait until the skin has completely back to a normal appearance and temperature. This usually takes about 60 minutes. Never reapply heat or indeed ice before the skin has completely recovered. Ideally, leave an hour and a half between all ice and heat applications.

Treatment with Cold and Hot

Alternating cold and hot applications are good for encouraging a good circulatory exchange in long standing or chronic injuries and painful areas. It is sometimes known as contrast therapy. The best method of application is to apply cold / ice to the area for about 2 minutes and then apply heat for about 3 minutes. The cold again for 2 minutes and then hot for 3 minutes. You can keep alternating like this for up to a maximum of 30 minutes. The general consensus of opinion is that you should start and end on a cold application. Please remember all the precautions mentioned above relating to both cold and hot applications.

If you have any queries do please phone The Bower Mount Clinic and seek advice.