Medical Acupuncture

Fiona McCabe, MISCP, BMAS

Senior MSK Chartered Physiotherapist

Medical Acupuncturist

Read more about Fiona

Fiona qualified from TCD in 2006 with a BSc in Physiotherapy.  She quickly sought to specialise in musculoskeletal and sports injuries whilst working in a number of private practices in Dublin and Kildare and pursuing her lifelong interest in Irish music and culture.

An avid musician and dancer, she was in the Cast of Riverdance from 2007 to 2016, promoted to Lead Dancer for 2011-13. In 2013, she took the role as Chief Medical Officer and Physiotherapist in both the US and China in both ‘Riverdance: The show’ and ‘Heartbeat of Home’, respectively.

On retirement from professional Irish dancing she took up a permanent role as Senior MSK Physiotherapist at TherapyXperts Maynooth in 2016.

To this day Fiona continues to consult on behalf of The National Theatre of Ireland, The Abbey and The Gaiety Theatre in treating stage actors and performers.

Fiona’s Clinical Specialities:

  • Dance injuries
  • Headache & Neck Pain
  • Foot Biomechanics & Orthotics
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hip & Knee
  • Medical acupuncture and Electroacupuncture

Post Graduate Education:

Fiona has successfully completed many postgraduate courses including:

  • Certificate in Myofascial Trigger Point Release (Travell and Simons),
  • Spinal Manual Therapy (Robinson and Hall) and
  • Pilates coaching programs with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI) encompassing antenatal and postnatal care.
  • Western Medical Acupuncture. She is affiliated as a member of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) and is currently working towards completing her Diploma in medical acupuncture with BMAS.

Other Interests:

Ever the dance and theatre enthusiast, Fiona is an accomplished classical pianist and traditional Irish fiddle player. She writes regular blogs for her own fashion blogging website in her spare time. She holds an Irish dance teaching (TCRG) and adjudicator (ADCRG) qualification with An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, traveling locally and interantionally to adjudicate at feiseanna.

What sorts of conditions respond?
Acupuncture is effective in a wide range of painful conditions and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain e.g. back, shoulder, neck and leg pain. It has also been successfully used to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains and various kinds of rheumatic and arthritic pain.

How does it work?
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the body’s release of natural painkillers – endorphin and serotonin – in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received.

But acupuncture does much more than reduce pain, and has a beneficial effect on health. Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.

Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.

What is involved in having acupuncture?
Every patient will be assessed by a chartered physiotherapist and a specific medical diagnosis will be given. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into various points in the body depending on the condition being treated. The duration of treatment depends on the nature of the problem. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may only be two or three. Acupuncture may be used in conjunction with other treatment techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise and electrotherapy.

A typical course of physiotherapy combining acupuncture would be about 4 to 6 sessions, however this may vary according to how long the problem has been present and how quickly you respond to treatment. It may take a couple of sessions before you start to feel improvements.

What sorts of conditions respond?
Acupuncture is effective in a wide range of painful conditions and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain e.g. back, shoulder, neck and leg pain. It has also been successfully used to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains and various kinds of rheumatic and arthritic pain.

How does it work?
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in skin and muscle, and can produce a variety of effects. We know that it increases the body’s release of natural painkillers – endorphin and serotonin – in the pain pathways of both the spinal cord and the brain. This modifies the way pain signals are received.

But acupuncture does much more than reduce pain, and has a beneficial effect on health. Patients often notice an improved sense of wellbeing after treatment.

Modern research shows that acupuncture can affect most of the body’s systems – the nervous system, muscle tone, hormone outputs, circulation, antibody production and allergic responses, as well as the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.

What is involved in having acupuncture?
Every patient will be assessed by a chartered physiotherapist and a specific medical diagnosis will be given. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into various points in the body depending on the condition being treated. The duration of treatment depends on the nature of the problem. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may only be two or three. Acupuncture may be used in conjunction with other treatment techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise and electrotherapy.

A typical course of physiotherapy combining acupuncture would be about 4 to 6 sessions, however this may vary according to how long the problem has been present and how quickly you respond to treatment. It may take a couple of sessions before you start to feel improvements.

Who will give the acupuncture treatment?
All acupuncturists at TherapyXperts are fully qualified chartered physiotherapists registered with the ISCP, who have also undertaken additional training in medical acupuncture with the British Medical Acupuncture Society. Our physiotherapists are therefore able to use their wider medical knowledge to diagnose and safely treat conditions that are suitable for acupuncture.
All acupuncturists at TherapyXperts are fully qualified chartered physiotherapists registered with the ISCP, who have also undertaken additional training in medical acupuncture with the British Medical Acupuncture Society. Our physiotherapists are therefore able to use their wider medical knowledge to diagnose and safely treat conditions that are suitable for acupuncture.

Useful Resources

The most useful site for clients to click on and read up on further information on the BMAS (British Medical Acupuncture Society) Code is through their website page: https://www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk/Patientinformation.aspx

Evidence for Acupuncture on Knee OA, Chronic Neck and Lower Back Pain through AACP (Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists) website: https://www.aacp.org.uk/page/15/the-evidence  or www.aacp.org.uk

The British Acupuncture council have an excellent directory (An A-Z list of common conditions). Here is the link to that too: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions.html

The BMAS Journal, Acupuncture in Medicine has a nice  list of article, according to most recent, most read and most cited. Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/aim#

An article analysing safety of acupuncture, an extensive study done in the UK in 2006, concluding Acupuncture is safe in the hands of competent, health care professionals. Link: https://www.aacp.org.uk/assets/ckfinder_library/files/150518%20White%202006%20SAFETY%20OF%20ACUPUNCTURE%20evidence%20in%20in%20UK.pdf

A more recent study in 2013, deeming Acupuncture to be statistically more significant in the rehabilitation of OA than muscle strengthening exercises alone: https://www.aacp.org.uk/assets/ckfinder_library/files/150518%20Acupuncture%20for%20OA%20knee(2).pdf

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