Acupuncture for treating Pain, Stress, and Other Conditions



Pain Relief

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Acupuncture has become widely accepted, and proven through research, in its ability to help deal with painful conditions. Some commonly seen conditions are:

  • Back pain, including sciatica
  • Shoulder/neck pain/frozen shoulder
  • Arthritis
  • Sinus pain
  • Headaches/migraine
  • Gout pain
  • Menstrual pain
  • Neuralgia
  • Shingles
  • Gall stones, kidney stones pain.

Many types of pain seem to respond to acupuncture, which seems to be able to really help peoples’ ability to handle pain, even sometimes when it mightn’t be possible to change the underlying problem that is causing it.

Stress, Anxiety and Headaches (inc. Migraine)

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Research published in 2016 (2 Cochrane reviews) has shown that acupuncture works well at reducing the number of tension headaches and migraines in people who have a course (by about 50%). What is even more interesting is that 90% of the effects of that course may still be present a year later. Cochrane reviews are the ‘gold standard’ in evidence based medicine and demonstrate how acupuncture research has ‘come of age’ and is now able to stand up to even the most ardent skeptic’s arguements.

This high quality research (outlined below) in my opinion is just the beginning of how acupuncture is likely to progress in terms of its evidence base. Other indications such as Stress/anxiety, Pain, depression, stroke rehabilitation etc.etc.  also have much good quality research and will soon also reflect what we acupuncturists have known for a long time, namely that it works!!

1) “Acupuncture for the prevention of Tension-Type headache” Cochrane systematic review- 2016. Conclusion “The available results suggest that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches…”

12 RCT’s reviewed with 2349 patients. Found that 48% had a reduction in headache frequency of at least 50%, compared to those in the ‘usual care’ group (e.g. medicines) who had a 17% reduction.

The results of the acupuncture were still present after 6 months. True acupuncture proved better than placebo acupuncture*.

* The whole topic of placebo acupuncture is difficult, as is the case with placebo surgery or placebo physiotherapy. This is why in previous trials the difference between placebo and real acupuncture seems small – even though both are effective. However this current review shows that there is a real difference. In fact placebo acupuncture is not a good ‘control’ and tends to have a genuine therapeutic effect.

2) “Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine” Cochrane review 2016.

Conclusion “The available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches.”

22 RCT’s reviewed with 4985 patients. Found that 59% had a reduction of at least 50% in frequency at 6 months. Treatment with acupuncture proved to be at least as effective as treatment with prophylactic medicines

3) “The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: a meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain.”

Conclusion: The effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain do not seem to decrease importantly over 12 months.” “The central estimate suggests that approximately 90% of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls would be sustained at 12 months”.

Review of 29 RCT’s with 17922 patients.

Ref. Pain. 2017 May;158(5):784-793. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000747.

Acupuncture’s ability to calm people is remarkable. Part of the explanation for this is because of the release of endorphins (natural hormonal vallium!) which acupuncture produces. However there seems to also be a genuine grounding effect which people experience. People just seem to feel ‘better in themselves’ when they have had a course of acupuncture.

Many clients return for a monthly or quarterly ‘top-up’ to help keep them feeling more relaxed and able to deal with the day-to-day stresses we all have to face.

Menstrual problems

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There is such a thing as a ‘normal’ period. However, because it is a bit of an unspoken area many women don’t know exactly what it should be like. It should not be; extremely painful, either very heavy or light, very clotty, very prolonged or irregular, or cause a major impact on daily routine.

If you suffer from any of the above you should see your doctor. When you have done that, and if you still have the problem, you may want to try acupuncture.

Acupuncture (sometimes combined with herbs) has a remarkable effect on the periods and often within a couple of menstrual cycles can improve or eliminate problems such as those above.

If you are trying to have a baby or may plan to do so in the future, Traditional Chinese Medicine will firstly attempt to regularise and normalise the periods.

Male fertility

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Fertility problems are becoming one of the unfortunate features of modern life. For whatever reason, the general sperm quality among males has dropped alarmingly. Our sperm counts today are probably about half what our grandfathers would have had.

About one in six couples have difficulty conceiving, and of these, about 40% may be due to male factor issues.

Acupuncture has been shown to have significant beneficial effects on sperm parameters and can sometimes help improve:

  • Sperm count (e.g. where scrotal temp. is raised)
  • Sperm motility
  • Sperm quality

Through a combination of advice (e.g. about things like scrotal temperature, weight reduction, no cycling, lifestyle etc. etc), herbal medicine, and acupuncture, I believe that there is a lot that can be done to help with male fertility issues.

Most of the acupuncture points used are on the arms and legs and tummy – none are anywhere near your ‘wobbly bits’. Sorry if this sounds a bit flippant – but I know you’ll have been wondering! Please feel free to give me a call to discuss your situation in complete confidence.

Low immune

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Frequent colds & flu, repeated chest infections, frequent sinusitis and allergies can all be signs of compromised immune function. Acupuncture (and herbs) have been used for thousands of years to treat conditions such as these, and help reduce/prevent their occurrence.

Now modern research is beginning to ‘catch up’ with anecdotal evidence and attempt to ‘prove’ what the ancient Chinese have known for 2,000 years!

Research has shown that acupuncture may help support immune function. These research projects have used measurable criteria such as T-cell counts, NK cells, IgE levels etc.

After 10 years of practice I am convinced that acupuncture can have a very beneficial effect in helping people cope better with conditions that may be associated with sub-optimal immune function.

Sinusitis & Asthma

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Sinusitis, rhinitis, asthma, hay fever, bronchitis and cough are conditions that often respond well to acupuncture treatment. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the role of diet and lifestyle is often key to unlocking the reasons behind these conditions. While acupuncture often gives quick and effective relief, the long term answer to dealing with the underlying causes can usually be found by looking at what exactly is going on in the individual’s body according to TCM. Often excessive ‘dampness’ or ‘heat’ may be the culprit and acupuncture/herbs and lifestyle & dietary advice will alleviate the problem.

General Health issues

Back to TopNone of us is in perfect health. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is brilliant at looking at how the body is functioning in it’s various parts. For example, a TCM diagnosis will be able to establish if your Lung, Spleen, Liver or Kidney energy is above or below ‘par’. I often liken it to a graphic equaliser on a stereo where the flashing lights show which element of the sound is performing above/below the ‘line’. In the same way TCM is excellent at identifying deficiencies and excesses in our various ‘organs’ and pointing towards a plan to put them right. I believe that TCM is superior to conventional medicine at diagnosing and treating us when we have a functional illnesses and that western/conventional medicine is often best for organic problems (e.g. where surgery may be required etc.).

Often when the right TCM diagnosis is identified and appropriate treatment undertaken people will notice improvements in their health (physical and emotional) that they will be impressed with.

An interesting way to have a look at how a TCM diagnosis is arrived at is to fill in my 10 minute intake questionnaire which I would be happy to email you (free of charge) if you would like it. By doing that you may see that your diagnosis is likely to be clustered around one or two organ systems for example. – Just send me your email address through the contact us section of the website and I’ll send you a form.

Digestive issues

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IBS, constipation, diarrhoea, gastric discomfort, bloatedness & wind. These are some of the frequently treated conditions that acupuncturists treat every day. Acupuncture often works very well with these ‘functional’ illnesses and helps people return to normality. Assuming that you have seen your doctor (to rule out conditions that may require medical treatment) acupuncture can be very effective in treating these type of conditions.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM – which was developed about 2500 years ago) the ‘Stomach channel’ runs from the stomach area down the front of the leg to the foot. Research has shown that by performing acupuncture on the point Stomach 36, which is about 3 inches below the knee, intestinal peristalsis is increased significantly – (this is the same effect that drugs such as motillium/domperidone try to induce)! Often when this point is used in an acupuncture session people notice that their tummy becomes more gurgly/rumbly.