Latest posts are at the bottom of this page.
Use the filter buttons above to help find answers - click on the boxes

Recent answers

We have produced a fact sheet on osteoarthritis

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/osteoarthritis.html

and as you can see, research into the treatment of arthritis in the feet is not that common. There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of studies published in Chinese every year, but only a small percentage are translated, and we are sure that there has probably been research but we are unlikely to see it.

Although acupuncture has a reasonably good record for offering relief in cases of osteoarthritis, it would be fair to say that arthritis in the feet can be much more difficult to treat. The very tight 'fit' of the foot bones means that where osteoarthritis starts to develop it can be very difficult to overcome the constant rubbing and inflammation which this causes in order to break the cycle of pain - inflammation leads to pain leads to more inflammation and more pain, and so on.

However, one of the great strengths of Chinese medicine is that it looks at symptoms as a part of a much wider pattern of energy flow in the body, and can sometimes make sense of systemic conditions which manifest in specific areas. Treatment may involve not just the affected area, but also points elsewhere on the body which can begin to put right the underlying imbalances which are the true cause of the problems. Arthritis has been around as long as men have walked upright, and the ancient Chinese had their own ways of differentiating the various types based on the nature of the symptoms - better with heat or cold, movement or rest, etc etc. This has led to some well-established protocols which may offer some benefit.

However, each person is as unique and different as their symptoms, and in some cases the deterioration will have gone beyond the point where treatmentt will be of benefit other than as short term pain relief. The best advice we can give is that you visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal chat and brief face to face assessment of what they think might be possible. We are confident that they will give you an honest and realistic assessment of what they think acupuncture treatment might offer.

Q: I'm planning to  study intensive acupuncture in Goa (India).   I would like to know if I will be able to work in the UK after that and if I could be registered with the British Acupuncture Council.

A:There is regulation of acupuncture by the state in the UK, so in theory anyone is free to practise. However, local authorities operate local laws which govern all skin piercing activities which means that a practitioner has to be registered or licensed to practise. The grant of a licence or registration depends on the practitioner showing that they meet all the requirements for safe practice and that their premises are also sutable. Many local authorities now check the standard of someone's training, and undertake basic checks of being properly insured. The only exceptions are in London where belonging to a professional body on the list of exempt organisations means that a practitioner does not have togold a licence, although they are still required to let the authority know they are there.
 
As far as intensive training courses are concerned, it is only fair to tell you that the BAcC had some quite difficult arguments with other UK acupuncture associations some years ago because of our insistence on a minimum of 3600 hours training over three years. We do not believe that you can train to be a sound and effective practitioner in less time than this, and we regard the clinical element of the training, where someone learns through supervised reflective practice as critical. It is perfectly possible to learn the basic theory in much less time than this, but in our view that is not in itself a good basis for practice.
 
We only give automatic eligibility to graduates of accredited colleges. However, we do have an entry route for practitioners who trained elsewhere which uses the same criteria and we have known of cases where people have taken a shorter training and then succesfully applied to us after they have used their skills in clinical practice for several years, but as the professional standards are being raised year after year, we do not expect to see many people being admitted to the BAcC with less than a three year training. This is, after all, the World Health Organisation's recommendation for a non-medical practitioner in independent practice. 

A: There are no specific points for raising body temperature. There are a number of reasons in Chinese medicine why the body as a whole might be cold or why specific parts of the body may be cold, but the nature of Chinese medicine is that the practitioner treats the person, not necessarily the symptom in itself. Although the practitioner might describe a patient as Yang Deficient, often manifesting in coldness, there are many different ways in which a Yang Deficiency can both manifest and be created. The choice of points would reflect the specific nature of the unique balance of the individual.

There are plentiful lists of 'cookbook' or formula acupuncture on the internet, and there are often generic points which might appear in many of the possible treatments for Yang Deficiency. We always have a concern, however, that used out of specific context these points may have no effect or no lasting effect, and although they are unlikely to cause any harm, our experience is that people tend to walk away from treatments which cause them transient adverse effects, and we believe that point recommendations without specific diagnosis are not to be trusted.

The best advice, if you are experiencing coldness, is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice from a brief face to face assessment. This will give you a much clearer idea of what may be possible than that which we can give you here.

A: >There are no specific points for raising body temperature. There are a number of reasons in Chinese medicine why the body as a whole might be cold or why specific parts of the body may be cold, but the nature of Chinese medicine is that the practitioner treats the person, not necessarily the symptom in itself. Although the practitioner might describe a patient as Yang Deficient, often manifesting in coldness, there are many different ways in which a Yang Deficiency can both manifest and be created. The choice of points would reflect the specific nature of the unique balance of the individual.

There are plentiful lists of 'cookbook' or formula acupuncture on the internet, and there are often generic points which might appear in many of the possible treatments for Yang Deficiency. We always have a concern, however, that used out of specific context these points may have no effect or no lasting effect, and although they are unlikely to cause any harm, our experience is that people tend to walk away from treatments which cause them transient adverse effects, and we believe that point recommendations without specific diagnosis are not to be trusted.

The best advice, if you are experiencing coldness, is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice from a brief face to face assessment. This will give you a much clearer idea of what may be possible than that which we can give you here.

Q:  Can you tell me how acupuncture can help with my neurological condition charcot marie tooth, otherwise kown as peripheral neuropathy

A:  The short answer, if we are truthful, is that we are not sure. Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) is a herditary genetic disorder, and while acupuncture treatment may mitigate some of the symptoms which CMT sufferers experience, there is obviously a limit to what a treatment like acupuncture can achieve, unless one took the extraordinary and unsustainable position that as an energy treatment anything was possible.

From a Chinese medicine perspective the kinds of problems which a CMT sufferer experiences would be defined as weaknesses in the flow of energy, called 'qi', and their effects on the muscles and nerves in terms of conductivity and movement. In stroke treatment, for example, in China acupuncture is used as soon as possible after the CVA to reinstate flow where the qi is said to have been blocked, causing paralysis and loss of sensation. A similar principle would apply in looking at some of the manifestations of CMT, without the same rapid onset. The practitioner would be interested in establishing whether the problems were entirely local or whether they were indicative of woder problems in the system. However, with a genetic problem it may well be that the best to be achieved is getting worse slower, so one has to be realistic. That said, it is always important to bear in mind that when someone has a major disorder there is often a tendency to attribute every symptom to it, and we have come across cases where a symptom which may be generated by a condition has arisen contingently alongside it and been much more amenable to treatment than expected.

If you want to find examples of research into the use of acupuncture and peripheral neuropathy, the google search 'ncbi acupuncture peripheral neuropathy' will generate a number of hits for research studies which show encouraging results. However, peripheral neuropathy can have many different causes, and how universalisable these studies are is not that clear.

The best advice, if you are at all unsure about the best way to proceed, is to see if a BAcC member local to you is happy to give up al little time without charge to offer a face to face assessment of what acupuncture treatment may be able to do. Each patient is unique and different, and there may be evidence which on a brief examination may point you more clearly towards, or away from (!)), treatment.

Post a question

If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.

Ask an expert

BAcC Factsheets

Research based factsheets have been prepared for over 60 conditions especially for this website

Browse the facts

In the news

Catch up with the latest news on acupuncture in the national media

Latest news