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Q:  Please do you have a list of acupuncturists who specialise in addictions therapy - especially in relation to gambling addictions?

A: Sadly we are not aware of anyone who specialises in the treatment of gambling addiction, nor are we entirely sure that acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention would be sufficient in itself to deal with this problem. There is usually, to use the jargon, a multifactorial approach, in which acupuncture is but one component.
 
There is very little by way of research in this field. If you google 'acupuncture' and 'gambling addiction' you will find a report commissioned in Ontario which concluded that acupuncture could at best be described as having a small but relatively unimportant effect and probably no effect at all. The study is well designed, although from a Chinese Medicine perspective the variety of treatments seems a little spartan. CM is predicated on individual treatments tailored to the unique needs of the patient, and delivering the same treatments to an entire group would not always be appropriate. However, the points used were some of the more powerful on the body and if there were to be an effect, they would surely generate it.
 
You may find that some of the groups contained within the acupuncture microsystems group registered with the CNHC might extend their work in auricular acupuncture to gambling. This database can be found at www.macrwg.org. There are also two organisations, NADA UK and SMART UK which deal with alcohol and drug addiction, each having several thousand members using the five point protocol and similar techniques. You may also find that these have a number of people who have dealt with gambling addiction.

 

In general, we tend to believe that Chinese medicine, treating as it does the person as much as the condition they have, can achieve some fairly extraordinary changes in all manner of conditions. For problems such as addictions, however, we tend to be more cautious, especially since we are aware that it often requires a more experienced practitioner not to be outflanked by a patient who is often very skilled at avoidance and deception.

 

It is always worthwhile talking to a BAcC member local to you to see what advice they can offer directly, and they may be aware of local initiatives. There are also practitioners in various fields such as hypnotherapy who may be able to offer solutions, but these are notoriously difficult to sort out by virtue of qualification alone, and a personal recommendation would be extremely useful. This 'expert' rather likes the approach taken by people using Ericksonian hypnotherapy methods, but these are also used in business coaching and not everyone who claims to be using the technique will necessarily be able to deal with a problem like addiction. 

A:  The short answer is 'possibly', which is perhaps not quite as decisive as you would like!
 
The vast majority of Baker's cysts or popliteal cysts are benign, and the NHS Choices website summarises very elegantly the main issues involving them
 
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bakers-cyst/Pages/Introduction.aspx
 
We would fully endorse this advice. In the first instance you need to eliminate any of the more serious possibilities that could be causing the problem, and if you have not seen your GP and had blood tests, we would recommend that you do. After that, if there are no signs of serious underlying pathology, we think that acupuncture treatment will do no harm and may well be of benefit. If the cyst has arisen because of arthritis in the knee there is a considerable body of evidence that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and pain in the affected joint
 
 
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/osteoarthritis.html
 
and the acupuncture treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee only narrowly failed to be included in the NICE Guidelines for knee treatments, we understand.
 
If the problem is not down to arthritis, there are other ways in Chinese medicine of understanding the flow of fluids in the body and the reasons for build-ups in areas such as the knee, and a practitioner will very quickly be able to elicit from basic diagnostic signs whether this is a local manifestatio of bloackage which treatment may help directly or whether it is the local manifestation of a deeper problem which treatment may also be able to help but a little more slowly.
 
The best advice is to visit a BAcC member local to you for a brief face to face assessment of the problem. This will give you a far more precise answer than we are able to do at a distance.
 


Q:  I have a badly knotted neck down into my shoulder due, I think, to a lactic acid build up. Can acupuncture help or is massage a better route?

A:  This need not necessarily be an either/or; many of our members are also trained in tui na, which is a form of Chinese massage using the same energetic principles as the acupuncture treatment itself. A large number of members are also trained in forms of conventional massage, and it may well be possible by using a careful google search to find a BAcC member near you who does acupuncture and massage. He or she will be able to use their professional his/her professional judgement about what is the most appropriate way to go forward.
 
As a general principle, though, we would say that the most important thing to establish is whether the problem is a local one involving a specific set of muscles or whether it is the local manifestation of a deeper problem which requires a different treatment strategy. This is the sort of judgement on which we would find it difficult to speculate at a distance. We would want to see where and how the problem manifests, and ask a great many questions about its onset (gradual or sudden), how it manifests, what makes it feel better or worse, and so on, to get an idea of what may be happening.
 
Our best advice is for you to visit a BAcC member local to you to ask their opinion of whether acupuncture treatment may be benefical. If they are dual qualified, as we mentioned, then they will be ideally placed to assess what may be the best option for you. Even if they are not, most will know very quickly whether it lies within their limits of competence and advise you accordingly. 
 

Q:  Last year I had an ectopic pregnancy in my left fallopian tube and then an early miscarriage 6 months later. My left tube is now blocked but my right is open.  I had about 3 acupuncture sessions last Aug/Sept and the woman put a needle in my wrist which caused a big electric shock sensation and ever since I have had mild tingling in that arm and wrist. The thing that is worrying me terribly is that I now only ovulate from my left ovary (I know this as I get ovulation pains).  As my left fallopian is blocked however, this means I cannot conceive. 

I'm so worried that the nerve damage that was caused in my left wrist has somehow caused me also to only ovulate from my left ovary. Please can you confirm whether this may be the case and whether the pressure points in the wrist or arm correspond to ovulation. 

How can I get my body to ovulate from the right side -should I try further acupuncture sessions?  I'm so worried that the acupuncture has made me infertile. I conceived twice last year within 6 months and since the acupuncture nothing has happened.

 

A:  The most important thing to say is that there is no possibility in either conventional or traditional Chinese medicine terms that a needle placed in the wrist will have affected your ovulation in the right ovary. We are a little concerned, though, that you are still experiencing discomfort in the area, and were you to be seeing us we would by now have referred you to a GP to have a further referral on to a neurologist. In our experience, needling the area in the wrist crease can sometimes casue acute pain if the practitioner touches the median nerve, and it is also possible that deep bruising which can sometimes happen at the same time can occasionally put pressure on the nerve for a while, causing the symptoms you describe. Almost all of these problems resolve eventually, but it is always wisest to seek a referral before too much time has elapsed in case there is another intervention worth pursuing.
 
As far as ovulation is concerned, we would probably advise you to check as carefully as possible whether your right ovary is not functioning. Basal temperature checks may be a good idea, but if you have any doubts based on your normal experience of ovulation being a very palpable one, then it is very important that you have this checked by blood tests or internal examinations. You mention in your question that you conceived twice last year, which suggests that you miscarried twice as well. If so, you do need to have more formal conventional medical examinations to establish what is going on.
 
As far as further acupuncture treatment is concerned, we are sure that it will do no harm, and there are good possibilities that it may be beneficial. Although we do not have defined specialisms within acupuncture, three areas - obstetrics, paediatrics and mental health - are areas where some postgraduate training is both wise and helpful, not to increase someone's Chinese medicine knowledge as such, but to consider it more carefully in relation to the western diagnosis and treatment in these areas. If you choose to have more treatment, we would strongly recommend that you look for a practitioner who has undertaken specialist training in fertility and pregnancy. A simple google search of acupuncture, fertility and your area should elicit the names of BAcC members local to you with these skills. It wouldin our view be worthwhile asking the advice of someone face to face about the fact that you have experience changes in your ovulation pattern. 
 
 

Q:  After a particularly stressful meeting, I experienced acute pains in my right side, including rib cage, stomach, groin and lower back, all impacting on the right side only.   I have had this before limited to the right side only but never in so many places at the same time.   Is there any connection regarding the right side and could this be explored using acupuncture?

A:  There are, indeed, a number of possible explanations within acupuncture and Chinese medicine for the experience of acute pain across the areas you describe, but there are also a number of possible explanations within conventional medicine, and if someone tells us that they are experiencing acute pain, we always like to check that they have been to their GP and if necessary referred to whatever specialist may be appropriate. Part of our job is to ensure that if there are what are termed 'red flags' we don't persevere with acupuncture treatment when conventional treatment is indicated as a priority. The chances are that this is not the case, but we always need to be sure that this route has been exhausted.
 
There are two things that a practitioner would want to establish. The first would be the exact location and type of pain which you have. This would involve all of the questions which any healtcare practitioner would ask - when it happens, what makes it better or worse, what medications you have tried and whether they work, and so on. They would also use a number of traditional Chinese diagnostic techniques such as taking the pulse at the wrist and looking at the tongue, as well as palpating the affected areas.
 
These would all give them not simply an idea of what the presenting symptom came from but also whether it as a symptom only or a symptom which was driven by a deeper cause. Chinese medicine pays attention to symptoms but is more concerned with the overall patterns of energy in the body. The same symptom can be a consequence of many different underlying causes, which is why formula acupuncture, sticking needles in for the named condition or symptom, will never be as effective as treatment designed for the unique individual.
 
The second thing the practitioner will do is to check what was happening at the time the symptoms occurred, and the previous times they have happened, and see whether there are any triggers.These could be physical or mental, or even emotional; it is surprising that what is second nature to us sometimes comes as a surprise to patients. They will speak about a marriage break up or a bereavement in the family at roughly the same time a symptom appeared, and not make the connection. From a Chinese medicine point of view, everything is interconnected, and a mental problem like stress or an emotional problem like stroppy teenagers can manifest in very real symptoms.
 
However, the presentation you describe also suggests a number of orthodox medical possibilities. One is a back problem which is radiating to other areas which are supplied by the same spinal nerve root. The other is the possibility of some kind of organic manfuntion affecting the intestine or the liver/gall bladder, all of which can radiate in this kind of way. It is important to estabish whether any of these are in trouble, and your GP will be able to do this very quickly with blood tests and checks of secondary signs.
 
If there is a back problem you may find that visiting an osteopath is a useful first intervention. However, acupuncture is also an effective treatment for some types of back pain, and your best move is to visit a BAcC member local to you for advice. Our members are first and foremost concerned that patients get the treatment most appropriate for them, and if this is something other than acupuncture they will happily refer a patient on, A visit is worthwhile, though. Nothing beats a face to face assessment of what is going on, and the practitioner can give you a much better idea in person than we can at a distance of whether acupuncture treatment is the best option for you.