A Swedish university study published yesterday concluded that acupuncture may be an effective treatment option for babies that continue to cry when conventional approaches have been unsuccessful.
They recruited healthy infants, aged 2-8 weeks, who were still crying more than 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, after having cow’s milk protein excluded from their/their mothers’ diet. In this randomised trial 98 babies had 4 sessions of acupuncture over 2 weeks and 49 had no acupuncture. All of them received gold standard conventional treatment in specialist child health centres. The acupuncture was minimal (very few needles, very shallow insertion, retained for a very short time period), according to usual practice among acupuncturists who specialise in treating infants. Effectiveness was measured in crying time, as recorded in diaries by the parents. Note that parents (and nurses) were both blinded, i.e. they didn’t know whether their baby was getting acupuncture or not, to avoid biasing the results.
Three different sorts of crying/fussing were recorded but I shall focus just on the total figures for all three. At the end of the trial those treated with acupuncture registered a 41% reduction in crying time vs 33% without acupuncture. This is not quite statistically significant though we would expect that when these results are combined with the data from three other similar trials the larger total numbers would change this to a positive. What’s probably of more interest to harassed parents is whether this size of difference is worth paying their money for (unless you’re Swedish and can get it for free). This is very hard to judge, not least because different babies (as with everyone) may respond very differently: some perhaps hardly at all while others get astoundingly much better. A good handle on this is to look at the response rates in the trial: what proportion of babies were still defined as colicky at the end? The answer is 65% for the no-acupuncture babies but only 38% for those given acupuncture. This is indeed an effect worth having and it’s both statistically and clinically significant.
The last word goes to Dr George Lewith, professor of health research at Southampton University: ‘It’s too small a study to be conclusive on its own but as there is no proven conventional treatment for infantile colic one could argue there is more evidence for acupuncture than conventional best practice’.
Effect of minimal acupuncture for infantile colic: a multicentre, three-armed, single-blind, randomised controlled trial (ACU-COL)
*In the UK 1 in 7 people at any one time experience a migraine attack.
A migraine is a complex neurological condition, which can affect the whole body and can result in many symptoms, sometimes without a headache at all. Migraines can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions and can affect people in many different ways.A migraine can involve recurrent attacks that can last up to three days and sufferers may also experience double vision, nausea and vomiting. Migraines are often thought to be caused by emotional strain, stress, hormonal imbalances, and lack of food and/or sleep or by a reaction to some foods or medications. Research has shown that traditional acupuncture can be very beneficial in the treatment of migraines as it tends to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends acupuncture for headaches and migraines. Migraines can manifest in very different ways and a fully qualified acupuncture practitioner will want to know, among other things exactly where the pain is located, what the nature of the pain is and whether the patient has any accompanying symptoms. An individual diagnosis and treatment plan is then tailored to the patient based on this information and on their general health history.
As a leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness, lower back pain is estimated to cost the UK economy over £12 billion per year .
In the UK the condition is responsible for 37% of all chronic pain in men and 44% in women but in a bid to cope with the condition, a study by the British Acupuncture Council reveals that 74% of people use painkillers as a quick fix to relieve discomfort.
‘Painkillers often mask the problem and don’t address many of the underlying causes of lower back pain, says Alison Savory, a qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council. ‘With traditional acupuncture we look at the root of the condition as well as the symptoms in order to try and promote longer term health and wellbeing. Many of my patients find the therapy extremely beneficial.’
With 2.3 million acupuncture treatments carried out each year, traditional acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practised in the UK today. Based on ancient principles which go back nearly two thousand years, acupuncture involves gently placing extremely fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body to trigger a healing response.
Anxiety UK and the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) have launched a joint pilot project which will see members of Anxiety UK being able to access traditional acupuncture through this new partnership.
Throughout the pilot project, data will be collected to determine the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture for treating those living with anxiety and anxiety based depression. This will enable both parties to continue to build a body of evidence to measure the success rate of this type of treatment.
Of those Anxiety UK members who have received traditional acupuncture from BAcC members, 74% reported anxiety was the primary reason for seeking treatment while 62% said it was a secondary reason.
We’re famously a nation that doesn’t like to make a fuss but new statistics from the British Acupuncture Council reveal that when it comes to pain nearly half of Brits (44%) just grin and bear it, which could impact long term health and wellbeing.
According to the report released today to mark Acupuncture Awareness Week (7th-13th March 2016), almost three in ten Brits (29%) exercise more now than they did ten years ago but more than half (52%) say they’ve been injured during sport in the past and one in three (30%) claim to have never recovered from their injuries.
To overcome a sporting injury, almost three in five people (56%) say they take oral painkillers, and nearly a third (32%) turn to ice and heat packs, compared to just 11% who opt for traditional acupuncture.
Andrew Jackson, a qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council comments: ‘Many people put up with pain when they don’t need to. Often discomfort from musculoskeletal problems can be alleviated with the correct diagnosis and treatment. Traditional acupuncture is an evidence based therapy that has been shown to help reduce pain and swelling, increase blood flow to promote recovery and help restore movement at the site of injury.’
The report of 2,000 UK adults revealed nearly three quarters of people (73%) have never tried traditional acupuncture with three in ten Brits (30%) admitting they’re unaware of how the therapy could help them.
Andrew continues: ‘In my experience, a lot of patients either ignore their injury or opt for painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs without ever being physically examined. Painkillers often mask the problem and don’t always address any potential underlying issues. Traditional acupuncture can help to identify the root cause of a problem, improving a patient’s understanding and management of symptoms for a more positive long-term outcome.’
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