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What sorts of conditions respond to acupuncture?

Painful conditions

  • Acupuncture is effective in a wide range of painful conditions and is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain; eg back, shoulder, neck and leg pain.
  • It has been successfully used to treat headaches, migraines, trapped nerves, chronic muscle strains and various kinds of rheumatic and arthritic pain.

Some other situations in which acupuncture might be used

  • Functional bowel or bladder problems such as IBS or irritable bladder, and even mild forms of urinary incontinence
  • Allergies such as hayfever, perennial allergic rhinitis, and some types of allergic rashes such as urticaria or prickly heat
  • Some other skin problems such as discrete rashes and ulcers, pruritus (itching), and some forms of dermatitis
  • Sinus problems and chronic catarrh
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Stopping smoking
  • Menstrual and menopausal symptoms

This is not a complete list and many other conditions have been treated with acupuncture.

Treatment for addictions and smoking

Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of addictions since a chance observation in the early 1970s that it modified the withdrawal symptoms in opiate addicts. Clinical research has yet to confirm whether or not acupuncture is useful in the management of withdrawal from addictive substances.

Acupuncture treatment for smoking cessation can be performed at the London Teaching Clinic. Treatment involves three sessions over the first ten days of cessation aimed at helping patients tolerate the withdrawal effects of nicotine, without requiring replacement therapy (i.e. patches or gum).

Management of withdrawal from other addictive substances is not undertaken at the clinic.

Acupuncture for weight loss

Clinical research has yet to confirm whether or not acupuncture is useful in the management of weight loss. A trial of acupuncture treatment for weight loss can be performed at the London Teaching Clinic. A short course of treatment is aimed at appetite suppression. Lifestyle modification is necessary to maintain any weight loss achieved.

What is involved in having acupuncture?

Every patient will have an initial assessment, followed by a course of treatment suitable for the condition.

Treatment is usually provided in six consecutive appointments but may be less if the condition responds quickly. However, if the practitioner feels that your condition can not be treated with acupuncture, you will be recommended to see your GP or appropriate specialist.

The BMAS does not claim that acupuncture can treat all conditions and it would be dangerous to do so.

The treatment itself involves fine needles being inserted through the skin and briefly left in position. Sometimes manual or low voltage electrical stimulation is applied to assist the process. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three.

Who will give the acupuncture treatment?

All BMAS acupuncturists are regulated healthcare professionals, who have also undertaken additional training in Western medical acupuncture. Many of them are GPs although increasing numbers come from other healthcare professions.

BMAS members work within the scope of their primary profession, and are able to use their orthodox healthcare training to assess and safely treat conditions a variety of conditions that are suitable for acupuncture.

Health Care Providers and insurance schemes

Some private health care providers such as BUPA, PPP and WPA pay for treatment under their health care policies. They will usually only do this if the treatment is being provided by a BMAS member. If you are a member of a health care scheme, please telephone them for further information.

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