Acupuncture is a treatment that can relieve symptoms of some physical and psychological conditions and may encourage the patient's body to heal and repair itself, if it is able to do so.
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 well being 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.
Each patient's case will be assessed by Dr Sharara and treatment will be tailored to the individual; so it is impossible to give more than a general idea of what treatment might involve. Typically, fine needles are inserted through the skin and left in position briefly. Sometimes with manual or electrical stimulation. The number of needles varies but may be only two or three.
Treatment might be once a week to begin with, then longer intervals as the condition responds. A typical course of treatment lasts 5 to 8 sessions.
What sort of conditions can be treated with acupuncture?
Referral guidelines for acupuncture:
The following is a list of conditions, diagnoses and symptoms for which acupuncture treatment can be used. The categories are placed roughly in order of response rate, starting with the highest.
Primary myofascial pain
Pain from the skeletal muscle, often with a wide pain referral pattern, frequently affecting neck, shoulder girdle and hip girdle muscles, responds very well to direct trigger point needling. Myofascial pain commonly presents as (not in order of frequency);
- · tension headaches
- · chronic abdominal pain
- · atypical facial pain
- · unilateral back pain
- · dental pain
- · sciatica
- · atypical chest pain
- · trochanteric bursitis
- · cervical radiculopathy
- · calf pain
- · shoulder pain
- · metatarsalgia etc.
Nocieptive musculoskeletal pain
Osteo Arthritis (espcially knee, ankle, shoulder joint & cervical spine), enthesopathies (achilles tendonitis, tennis and golfers elbow).
Functional, recurrent & other disorders
Irritable bladder symptoms (nocturia, frequency & urgency), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, migraine headaches, dry eyes and xerostomia, menstrual & menopausal symptoms (especially hot flushes).
Hayfever, allergic rhinitis, some forms of urticaria.
Local needling can be useful in the treatment of discrete rashes and ulceration. Chronic skin diseases do not respond convincingly, although those with an allergic component may do well. Acupuncture seems to be effective in treatment of itch.
One high quality RCT found a specific effect of electroacupuncture in fibromyalgia. In practice this condition is not easy to treat, but associated myofascial pain often responds well.
Neuropathic pain is difficult to treat. Acupuncture will occasionally have dramatic effects, but often will do nothing for these conditions. However, it could be useful as an adjunct to other forms of treatment.
Acupuncture is useful for treating the muscular pains commonly complained of by ME sufferers, but it does not appear to affect the condition itself.
There is no reason to believe that acupuncture can affect the progression of multiple sclerosis.
Acupuncture can also be used as an adjunct form of therapy in the smoking cessation or weight management programmes offered by the clinic.