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File under general - general

We have to say at the outset that we are not experts in electroacupuncture. Although a significant minority of our members do use EA machines we ourselves only train in traditional acupuncture with manual stimulation, and the kinds of sophisticated instruction in how best to use the machines is not a part of our training. You might find that the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists might be more helpful in that respect because its members more regularly use these machines as an adjunct to their work.

We have looked carefully at the major textbook on electroacupuncture, David Mayor's authoritative volume published a decade ago, and there are no cautions about the use of EA on scar tissue, nor any reports of muscle tearing after EA treatment. We have also conducted a very thorough search of all the databases on adverse events after acupuncture treatment, and there have been no case reports of this kind.

This is not to say that anyone could categorically say that it can't happen; anything is possible and there has to be a first times for any adverse event to happen. However, given the vast extent of the use of EA in China and the Far East we would have expected there to be some mention of any similar adverse events, and there is none.

We are not sure whether your question is an general one or a question based on something which has happened to you. All we can suggest if it is the latter is to go to the professional association to which the practitioner belongs and ask for the matter to be investigate and possibly passed on to their professional insurers if you have suffered any detriment after treatment.

We are sorry that we cannot be more helpful, but as we say, this is not really our field of expertise. 

 

The use of acupuncture treatment to help after stroke is now becoming more greatly accepted, and as you can see from our review paper

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/arrc/public-review-papers/stroke-and-acupuncture-the-evidence-for-effectiveness.html There has been considerable interest because in China it is not uncommon for people to begin  a course of acupuncture treatment within hours of a stroke in order to remobilise the energy of the body as quickly as possible.

The paper doesn't make much mention of dysphagia, though, and for that we have had to look at wider evidence sources. The best summary is here

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23000511.

A systematic review is a means of aggregating the results of many different trials and is seen as a very effective way of building up a wider picture than a small trial can offer. The results are encouraging, although as always there is criticism of the design studies and methodological rigour of many of the tests. This is usually to do with the fact that most studies are performed in China and are less concerned with whether acupuncture works - 2500 years of history says it does - than with what works better. We are still held to account for whether it works at all, which requires a very strict and not entirely appropriate trial design.

There was one rather interesting study published in  2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4810993/ which looks really encouraging but the technique describes pharyngeal acupuncture, and we doubt that you will find many UK practitioners either trained in this technique or willing to do it. There are also a growing number of practitioners using scalp acupuncture, for which there are two or three main systems, and great claims are made for their success in treating neurological problems, but here the research is very thin. If you can find someone who works with this method near where you live it may be worth having a chat with them.

We always advise prospective patients to visit a BAcC member local to them for a chat. Everyone is unique and different, and with cases like stroke recovery there are so many confounding factors that it is always best to find a way of getting a face to face assessment. There are no magic formulae to apply, but there are often signs which a practitioner can use to assess how well someone is likely to respond. This is invaluable for offering a prognosis.

From a Chinese medicine perspective there are many ways of regarding functional disturbances, and given the general agreement about what causes a stroke in energetic terms it is sometimes possible to track the functional disturbances which flow from this to the problems with swallowing in a way which offers direct treatment possibilities.

We are always cautious, however; the longer a symptom has been in place the more difficult it can be to move, a view shared with conventional medicine in looking at post-stroke recovery. If the problem arises from a head injury rather than an infarct, though, there may be good reasons to believe that acupuncture treatment may be able to help, however long after the injury a person is treated.

 

We would hesitate to use the word 'normal' but it is not unheard of to experience small bumps and itching where needles have been inserted. By far the most common cause is a slight allergic reaction to one of the metals in the needle itself. The stainless steel from which nearly all needles are made often contains traces of other metals, especially nickel, and many people are surprisingly allergic to this. There are also a great many needles which now have a silicone coating to make them easier to insert, and there are a number of people who are surprisingly allergic to this.

Aside from reaction to specific chemicals or metals, there are a number of people who seem for no reason at all to be highly reactive to needles. This can often be useful diagnostic information from a Chinese medicine point of view, and a practitioner can adjust treatment to a degree to address the issue and also try to minimise the effect.

There is no need to be concerned. These sorts of reaction usually last for no more than 24-48 hours, and have usually subsided by then. There is nothing to worry about as far as infection is concerned. Everyone now uses single use disposable needles which are never re-inserted and come already sterilised. 

The best thing to do is to have a chat with your practitioner and get their advice. If the reaction continues beyond 48 hours then it may be worth seeing your GP to get hold of some antihistamine medication and let them have a look at what is going on, but we think that you are unlikely to need to do this. We sincerely hope not anyway|

 

File under general -- general

We think that with the range of symptoms you have, and considering their nature, the first thing to do if you haven't already done so is to visit your GP to see what they make of the signs and symptoms. There are a number of quite serious conditions which can generate symptoms like this, and the first thing we would do if you came to us would be to refer you to your doctor for examination and blood tests. This would eliminate some of the possibilities at a stroke, but may actually lead to an important diagnosis and treatment.

If it turns out that there is nothing to be worried about in conventional medicine terms, then it would be advisable to visit a BAcC member local to you for them to take a look at what is happening. We can think of a number of reasons why the problem might be manifesting, when viewed from our perspective, but without sight of the problem itself we would be reluctant to start making guesses which would in all probability be wrong.

We would also be looking at dietary and environmental factors which might be involved. A surprising number of our patients have allergies and sensitivities of which they are not aware and which cause reactions across the body. The same sometimes happens with cosmetics and detergents. We are sure you have looked at factors like this, but we always check because it can cause these sorts of problems.

Even if there is no obvious cause from a Chinese medicine point of view, we hold the view that putting the system back in balance will always help to reduce symptoms. There is also a very considerable body of evidence about the use of acupuncture for pain relief, and while this can never guarantee that the problem will go it can sometimes offer long stretches without discomfort, for which many patients are very grateful.

As we said, however, this is an unusual problem for which it would be necessary to examine what was happening before venturing a view about how amenable it would be to treatment.

 

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