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Q:  Would accupuncture cure edema ?  Ive got it on a delicate part of the body due to an operation which I had 4 months ago  and after two months edema developed. Ive tried to alleviate  it by wearing tight underwear and massaging it down with vaselinge.  It goes away in the afternoon and evening but it  appears again in the morning.  Ive tried accupuncture for my eczema and it clears it up.

A: The fact that you have had acupuncture for eczema and it has worked for what can be a very intractable condition is a very good sign, and means that if it could work, it probably would.

 The concern that we have, though, is what may be causing post-operative swelling. In the first instance we would have to say that you should see your GP and then try to get a referral back to the surgeon who performed the procedure on you. 'Delicate' narrows the range of procedures, but not enough for us to be able to offer specific comment. After an operation any swelling should be investigated. The fact that it goes down on massage is probably a sign that it is not a major problem, but without further detail we can't really say more.


As a general comment, where there are local weaknesses caused by operations, sometimes by the scarring and scar tissue caused by incision, acupuncture treatment applied locally can have a significant effect. This may be even more the case if there is an underlying systemic weakness which prevents healing from taking place as efficiently as one might hope. The first port of call, though, is your GP. 



Q:  I would like  to find an acupuncturist for stopping smoking.   I have had the procedure done twice . Once in 1983 and 1992, both successful.
 One pin in the ear for two weeks, can touch it when needing a cigarette and the need goes away.   Please can you tell me if there are any practitioners who use that technique?

A:  The technique for stopping smoking by using needles in the ear is obviously not a traditional one in the strict sense. However, the use of auricular acupuncture for helping to deal with addictions of all sorts has become very popular, and as you have found before, it can work well.
As far as BAcC members are concerned, we do not keep a record of those who have added this technique to their repertoire. The only thing we can advise is that you might use our practitioner search function on the BAcC home page and ask a BAcC practitioner who works locally to you for their advice, i.e. whether they do this particular treatment or whether they know someone they trust locally who does. Our members are usually a very helpful resource in terms of finding out who is good at what in a locality.
Failing that, there is a group of practitioners who practise limited forms of acupuncture, called microsystems acupuncture, who are grouped together in the Microsystems Acupuncture Regulatory Working Group. It is highly likely that one of these may be doing exactly what you need. They can be located at
Failing that you have the two big detox assocations, SMART-UK and NADA-UK whose websites are easy to find and whose members use very limited techniques such as the five-point protocol to good effect.
Whoever you manage to find, it is important to reassure yourself that they are properly regulated and insured.
As a coda, you may also do well to investigate what additional support is now available through your local NHS outlets. The materials and secondary support have become a great deal more sophisticated in recent years as the Government has ploughed money into helping people to break the addiction to cigarettes.  


Q  I have been suffering with muscle tension for  several years, which has been made worse by injury.   I damaged my glutes about 10 years ago and have since had a few injuries to my sacral area and suffer weakness in this area. I have been told I have muscle imbalances which ultimately affect my whole body.  I  am currently seeing one in a long line of physios as well as having regular massage. However,  it all seems to be having little effect these days and my day to day existence seems to revolve around damage limitation. Do you think acupuncture would be of any use to me?

A: It certainly couldn't do any harm to try traditional acupuncture. We choose out words carefully, though; when we say traditional acupuncture we mean acupuncture based on an understanding of the principles of Chinese medicine. There is a great deal of acupuncture being offered these days by people whose focus is primarily musculo-skeletal, such as physios, osteopaths and chiropractors, and while we have no doubt that they often do very good treatment as an adjunct to their primary discipline, there are times when this kind of 'point and shoot' approach will not be enough. The problem from our perspective, of course, is that when this doesn't work people say 'acupuncture didn't work', to which we respond 'only a very reduced form of it.'
Chinese medicine looks at the body as a dynamic structure of energy, called 'qi' in Chinese thought, whose flow, rhythms and balances are integral to good health and well-being as well as to good recovery from the injuries which everyone experiences from time to time. In cases like yours this means two things. First, it is possible that there has been disruption to the flow of energy locally which, by the use of both local and distal treatment, a practitioner might be able to correct. If there is a local weakness or blockage, most treatments are only going to be partially successful in restoring function.
Second, there are often cases where an injury manifests as an acute problem on top of a more chronic weakness which has not generated any symptoms as yet, and also may manifest against a backdrop where the entire body is running below par. The problem with  acute then chronic problems is that they prevent the system as a whole from recovering and lock the problem in for a long time.
Acupuncture treatment may be able to address both of these issues, and a visit to a BAcC member local to you for a brief face to face assessment may be able to establish very quickly whether the practitioner thought that there was something they could do to help. As well as acupuncture treatment, you may also find that some of the gentler forms of osteopathy, especially cranial osteopathy, may be of benefit. The sacral area is one where damage cam impact on the whole system in some quite profound ways, and if the physical structure has been compromised, then no amount of work on the surrounding musculature is going to solve the problem.
However, we think that acupuncture treatment is worth trying first, and may well help you to break free of the cycle of damage limitation in which you appear to become trapped. We know how depressing this can become after a while, and how people can begin to lose hope in the fact that things will ever change. We have seen enough cases of long-term chronic cases resolving, if not wholly, at least enough to make a radical change, to believe that acupuncture treatment would be well worth trying.   

Q:  Have you ever heard of accupuncture being used for core back pain with needles placed down both sides of middle of spine (in muscles). I have had acupressure before for the same problen but pressure points were used in different areas B phoenix.

A: Indeed we have! There are a number of channels on the back on which the points lie, as can be seen in this diagram,

and a practititioner may very well use some of these in the treatment of back pain. As well as the traditional points, there is also a line of points closer to the spine itself called the Huatojiaji points which were commonly used in what was called 'barefoot doctor' treatment. These are nearly always supplemented with distal points on the arms and legs, and as you know from your experience of acupressure, these are often used as a front line treatment.


A great deal depends on how deep the problems are and how intense the discomfort in the affected area. There are occasions when treating the area directly can be too much for the patient, and a more indirect approach is more advisable. 



Q:  My wife had surgery for bowel cancer 3 years ago. Since then she has had a great deal of trouble managing her bowel movements and has had daily panic rushes to the little room! She has found this very difficult and distressing. Can acupuncture help and if so is there somebody with expertise in the area of bowel cancer treatment and its after effects that could help her? We live in Pulborough, West Sussex about 12 miles north of Worthing/south of Horsham.

A:  It is extremely difficult to generalise about the treatment of bowel frequency and urgency after surgery for bowel cancer. So much depends on the amount of tissue removed and exactly where from, and it is not uncommon for it to take a long time to restore normal function. There is evidence for the treatment of urgency, frequency and discomfort within the conglomeration of symptoms under the heading of irritable bowel syndrome
but this is not quite the same as surgical resection.
There are two possible ways in which acupuncture treatment may be of benefit. Acupuncture is increasingly used to aid normal recovery processes in a great many areas, and although the research of these cases is still broadly in its infancy, there is no doubt in our minds from the anecdotal evidence we have that people do tend to recover more quickly and 'better' from surgery. This expert has on many occasions treated patients pre- and post- cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) to very good effect. This is not a surprise, however; although a great deal of modern focus is on treating named conditions traditional chinese medicine was primarily concerned with restoring balance and homeostasis. Whe you consider the massive disruption to the whole system caused by surgery, anything aimed at helping to restore natural order is probably going to be of benefit.
The other possibility is that there has been disruption to specific parts of the system in such a way as to cause frequency and urgency. From a Chinese medicine perspective knowing the cause of a problem is sometimes less important than recognising how it manifests. If the pattern of signs and symptoms which your wife has approximates to one of the recognised syndromes, then there may well be some help which a practitioner could offer. The only and best way to see if this is the case is to seek an informal face to face assessment from a BAcC member local to you. Most will offer you a little time without charge to assess better than we can here whether treatment may be of benefit.
As far as expert practitioners are concerned, we take the view that all of our members are properly trained to be able to offer good Chinese medicine to any patient they see. There may be some value in seeking out someone with a few more years of experience in dealing with patients with serious conditions, but that will not change the basic principles of diagnosis and treatment which we all offer. There are a number of extremely well-qualified and experienced practitioners in your area, including two in Pulborough itself, and we are sure that by using our search function you will be able to locate someone who may be able to help your wife.  

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