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Q:  I am a student of Acupunture in China - China Beijing International Acupuncture Training Center. After graduation I plan to set my own practice based in UK. Can I apply for the membership from British Acupuncture Council after finishing my studies in China?

A: The BAcC is always happy to entertain applications from potential new members!

The greater majority of our new members graduate from UK colleges and courses which have been accredited by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board. Although accreditation covers a great number of requirements for the course itself in terms of resources and finances, it also enshrines the BAcC's current entry requirement which is set at a degree level 3600 hours of training. This is the same requirement as that laid down by the World Health organisation for a non-medical practitioner working in independent practice.

When people apply from overseas we have a system of assessing transcripts of their courses for equivalence with the standards which we set, and there is a process of assessment and interview which takes people through to membership. There is a great deal of information on our website

and on this page there is a link to a micro-site which takes someone through the pre-application process to assess potential eligibility before embarking on the process.

You can also speak to our Admissions Manager who is in the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays if your questions are not fully answered by the website.

If you think your training will not meet our requirements (we are aware that training levels can vary widely across China and even within the same institutions where people can choose their own level of engagement), the our Manager will be happy to discuss with you how you can make good any shortfall.  Hopefully, however, your standard will be more than adequate.

Q:  I have had 4 treatments with acupuncture over the last 6 weeks for menopause symptoms.   My last period was two years ago but I have two small bleeds over the last week and I am concerned. Could acupuncture have triggerd this off?

A:  It is always possible that acupuncture treatment may cause the body's systems, especially hormonal, to re-activate to a degree. This is why we always take great care when treating people with a stable thyroid or Type-2 diabetic medication routine, in case the treatment triggers any residual function and destabilises the regimen.

In cases like yours this is always possible, and even without treatment it is possible to have occasional small bleeds around the menopause, often at long and unpredictable intervals. The occurrence of a bleed now could, indeed, be entirely coincidental. However, if you are at all concerned, you should visit your GP. It is a part of our training to encourage patients to visit their GP for any unexplained or unusual bleeding.

This is quite often a difficult message to get across without being alarmist, as you might imagine. In the vast majority of cases it proves to be completely unexceptional. However, in the rare event that there is something more significant going on, it is better to find out and address it immediately rather than take a 'wait and see' approach.

You might also want to have a chat with your practitioner to see if there is anything in your case history or treatment to date which suggests that this is or has been likely. Some treatments are quite expulsive by nature, and can often cause a kind of cleansing effect on the system. A great deal would depend on the nature and quality of the bleed.

We think, though, that a routine check with your GP would probably be the first and best option. 

Q:  I have been having  acupuncture treatment for ankle swelling and pain mostly on the outside of the foot but after three treatments I have been noticing pain on the inside of the foot more than out. Is this possible?

A:  This is always possible, although without knowing a great deal more about what caused the ankle swelling and pain we are not able to be too precise.

It is not uncommon, when treating patients with a problem on one limb, or even one side of the body, to find that as the body restores normal function and with it normal structure, the side which has not been troubled now starts to play up, This can often happen when a limb or foot is rotated and the muscles are slightly less stretched than they should be. When they are stretched into normal shape this can hurt. Osteopaths and chiropractors routinely warn their patients that they may get some unusual reactions in the body as normal structure is re-asserted, and our work, which encourages better structure through regaining best function, is no different.

However, sight unseen it is really difficult to say, and we think that your own practitioner is the best resource you have at your disposal. He or she will know exactly what they have on the basis of exactly what they found, and this will enable them to make better sense of what you describe than we are able to at a distance.

Q:  My 92 year old mother has been suffering with what she has been told by a GP with tension headaches. These headaches start as soon as she is upright but not when she is laying down. She has them everyday. She has severe osteoporosis in her spine and arthritis in her neck.  My question is "is it safe for her to have acupuncture"

A:  There is nothing in what you have told us to give any hint that acupuncture would be at all unsafe. The only problems might be associated with mobility and visiting a clinic, but we are sure that you have had to address these already in getting your mother to various appointments, so your systems are probably well geared to this.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that acupuncture can have a very positive effect on tension headaches, as our factsheet shows:

With the elderly patient we usually start with relatively gentle treatment and needle rather more conservatively, using less needles and less needle manipulation, until we have assessed how well they can handle treatment. Most are probably more hardy than us younger ones, but there is no reason not to start slowly. Older people can also be slightly more prone to bruising and slight bleeding after needle insertion, so we always near this in mind when treating.

Overall, though, it is always a pleasure to treat the elderly. They often respond very well, and they have usually reached the stage where they tell people exactly what is happening, which can make feedback very direct on occasion. We wish you luck finding a good practitioner for her.

Q:  I had solilcsis curvature of the spine and was corrected with surgery 21years ago.  I get spouts of bad back pain which become unbearable and it's hard to continue with work and life even with medication ....would acupuncture help.  I've  had all other physio which is not of great help.

A:  A huge amount depends on the kind of surgery you had when you were younger. This often involves some kind of spinal fusion, although if the surgery is performed in pre-teenage years it may not be quite so drastic.

Without a much greater amount of detail about the surgery and the potential this has created to interfere with other physical structures like spinal nerves it would be difficult to say precisely how much benefit you might expect. This expert, for example, has a patient with a serious ankle deformity which has meant operations leaving the right leg longer than the left leg. The effect of this on the lower back is going to be permanent as her body strives to maintain the head over the centre of gravity while the pelvic and sacro-iliac joint are rotated. However, treatment does seem to contain the occasionally more severe bouts of pain, although in one bout the pain simply did not respond at all.

This was a surprise because acupuncture for pain relief is a fairly well established option. After the US President Nixon's visit to China in the 1970s where we saw operations where acupuncture was used instead of anaesthetic there was a huge amount of research into acupuncture for pain relief, and the main question is not so much whether it works but how much it works and how sustainable the results are. If a treatment can buy a week or two's reduction in pain it might be a viable long term option, even if the cause remains and will continue to cause bouts of pain. It may come down to a matter of how deep someone's pockets are, but there is certainly provision within NHS Pain Clinics if you are lucky enough to get a referral to one.

Other than that the best that we can recommend is that you visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal chat about what acupuncture treatment may be able to offer. Most members are happy to give up a small amount of time without charge if they or the prospective patient are not entirely sure whether acupuncture would be a good option. This also gives you a chance to meet them and see where they work, factors which can make a difference in people's choices.

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