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Unfortunately by its very nature traditional acupuncture, if undertaken according to classical principles, is a generalist practice. Indeed, in ancient times the specialists were somewhat disparaged for being limited in  their scope of practice, and the generalists were regarded as the supreme physicians. This very much fits with the idea that each individual is unique and different, and the true skill of the practitioner lies in looking at why these specific symptoms arose in this particular patient. This explains why twenty people with the same named condition might be treated in twenty different ways.



That said, we understand from the rather unusual nature of the problem you have that you might prefer to see someone who had seen this kind of problem before. This might prove tricky because the only two areas where we have advanced towards recognising degrees of specialism are obstetrics and paediatrics. There aren't really that many practitioners who are working in environments where the bulk of their patient work would be in the neuro/psychological sector. 



The one thing you do have going for you in York is a long-established college, the Northern College of Acupuncture. While the clinical work there will mainly be undertaken by students the faculty contains some of the most experienced acupuncture practitioners in the country, especially its principals. You could do a great deal worse than seeking a view from them about whether there is someone amongst them who has seen or worked with something similar. We tend to find that groups of practitioners very often know better than we could hope to track who specialises in areas of work or has spoken of such treatments.



We would be bound to say, however, that if you have seen someone in the past whose services have been very good, you would probably find that these would still be the best choice, especially if you have already had experience of their work and found them good.



 

As long as you are planning to have a natural labour for your baby and your midwifery team and specialists are not preparing you for another C-section there is nothing to stop you asking for an acupuncture practitioner to assist you in the labour as they would for any pregnancy.

We prefer not to say 'acupuncture for induction' because this implies a direct causal relationship which isn't quite how we perceive what we do. We prefer to think in terms of helping the body through the natural stages of labour as smoothly as possible. The process is a very gentle one, and carries little risk as far as we are aware. It certainly isn't going to generate sudden results. The only caution we tend to apply is checking that the facilities are ready and in place in case the process really does accelerate the labour. This is especially the case if the process kicks off over a weekend.

Although we regard ourselves as generalists obstetrics is an area where we are well advanced in our recognition of specific postgraduate training which would allow someone to lay claim to expert practice. There are four or five specialist courses which are very popular, and although we cannot name them you will find that our members who advertise themselves as specialising in working with fertility and pregnancy issues will invariably have taken this training. You can rest assured that if they have then they will have covered areas such as yours in great depth and know exactly what they are doing when treating someone with a previous C-section in their history.

We hope that all goes well for you and your baby.


We are delighted to say that there is some very good evidence  for the treatment of lower back pain with acupuncture. Indeed, until a recent reversal of policy based on what we believe was very unsound interpretation of research, NICE, the clinical guidelines body, was recommending ten sessions of acupuncture treatment as one of the basic offers for people with chronic back pain of over six months duration. You can see some of the evidence on which this decision was based on our factsheet which can be found here:

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/back-pain.html

Of course, from a Chinese medicine perspective treating back pain per se is not really how we work. It isn't just empty rhetoric that we treat the person, not the symptom, and although the symptom might be identical in twenty people they may well be treated in twenty different ways. Each symptom arises against a backdrop of imbalance, and it is by treating the imbalance as well as, and sometimes instead of, the symptoms real change can both be made and sustained. There are obviously specific points which can affect the lower back, but if these are treated alone and a deeper underlying problem is not addressed the pain will return.

The fact that pain can arise in many different ways means that sometimes the obvious diagnosis doesn't really work either. Most people over the age of 50 have some deterioration of the lower spine, but although it is often declared the cause, it may not be. We have certainly treated many people with serious deterioration of the lower spine whose pains have gone.

Acupuncture can also be used for straightforward pain relief, and here the main questions which we have are not whether it works but how much and how sustainable the results may be. There has been a great deal of high quality research into the use of acupuncture to release the body's own painkillers (easily measured and easy to assemble test groups), and it is largely on this basis that most Pain Clinics offer acupuncture.

The best advice that we can ever give, since each patient is unique and different, is to visit a local BAcC member for an informal assessment. Most are only too happy to give up a little time without charge to see whether acupuncture is the best option for your specific presentation. We are confident that you will get an honest appraisal and assessment.

If we took your question as face value as one about peripheral neuropathy then we might be tempted to use an answer we gave quite recently:

There is some evidence that acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of neuropathy, as our factsheet http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/neuropathic-pain.html
shows but this is not yet compelling enough for us make a firm recommendation. If you google for results from the US National Centre for Biotechnology Information, a very useful research resource, as 'ncbi acupuncture peripheral neuropathy' you will find references to a number of studies, some of which seem to show very positive results, others less so. Treating nerve damage with acupuncture, however, suffers from the same limitations as any other therapy. If the damage is already considerable there is less chance of reducing the pain and loss of sensation.

Chinese acupuncture is based on a theory of energy, called 'qi', and its flow and balance in the body. This can often mean that the needles used in conditions like peripheral neuropathy are often local to the problem and seen as a blockage in the flow of qi, but Chinese medicine has an elaborate understanding of the functional nature of the internal organs, understood entirely differently from in the West, and will often look at how the problem may also be a manifestation of a wider functional disturbance in the system. Then, of course, you have the underlying premise of the original Chinese medical systems which were largely asymptomatic, regarding the achievement of overall balance as the primary aim in the belief that this would deal with symptoms wherever they manifested.

The important element in treating peripheral neuropathy is understanding the physiological basis for its appearance in western terms and being realistic about what may be achieved. If this amounts to maintaining the status quo, or even as one very wise patient expressed it 'getting worse slower', then as long as this is the agreed basis for treatment, that is fine. Our members are trained to avoid raising unreal and unreasonable expectations in people with degenerative conditions or permanent physical damage. Talking to a BAcC member local to you face to face may be the best advice if you are considering treatment. They should be able to assess relatively quickly whether acupuncture was a worthwhile option for you.

This is quite a useful start because it sets out some basic principles and also emphasises that for conditions like diabetic neuropathy in the language of modern sales talk, 'once it's gone, it's gone.'

However, without any further elaboration of the health condition which may be the root cause of your symptoms we would be looking at them as they were in  themselves and trying to make sense of them within the framework of Chinese medicine. As our factsheet on vertigo shows

https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/2599-vertigo.html

there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that acupuncture might be of benefit, but even here we would say that vertigo is simply a label for someone's experience, and that once it is put in the context of someone's overall balance it can be the result of any number of possible imbalances from a Chinese medicine perspective. That is why we invariably recommend that someone sees a BAcC member for an informal chat. Most are happy to give up a little time without charge to discuss based on a first hand view whether acupuncture treatment might the best option for you. We have confidence that if it isn't they will say so. There are alternatives if this seemed to be the case.

It does illustrate very well for us, though, how working backwards from symptoms to a disease label can make a huge difference to how one perceives a problem. The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it see symptoms in their wider context as manifestations of the disease, not necessarily the disease itself.

It is a little difficult to say what might have happened to you without a slightly more detailed description of where the needles were applied. It is possible that the insertion of needles has left a small bruise or bruises deep within the tissue. If these have consolidated then it will be rather like kneeling on a grain of rice or piece of grit. This can have a disproportionately large effect for the size of the irritant. However, for this to be the case the needles would have had to be inserted in an area where we would not normally expect a needle to be placed. As we said, without knowing more specifically where the needles were placed it is difficult to be sure.

What we cam be more certain about is the fact that acupuncture treatment very rarely causes permanent damage to body tissue, and even where there is bruising this usually resolves within a matter of days. If a needle has been inserted into an area where there is subsequent pressure from direct contact or from the flexing of muscles then this might cause some discomfort, but this will soon pass.

The other option which we have to bear in mind is that a small piece of needle has been broken off and lies within the tissue. This would be highly unusual, because most practitioners, certainly in the UK, use single-use disposable needles which are discarded after one insertion. The only reasons a needle can break are faulty manufacture or repeated re-use and sterilisation. This can make the steel brittle, and more likely to fracture. We haven't seen or heard of a case in the UK for well over twenty years, and even that was hotly disputed. If you are based elsewhere than the UK, though, this might be a relevant question to ask.

In any event, the best person to discuss this with is the practitioner who applied the needles. He or she will know exactly where they were placed, and this will give a much clearer indication of what might have happened. 

Of course, we always have to bear in mind that a symptom may not be directly related to a treatment. With over 4 million treatments in the UK alone each year it is always possible that a problem, even in the same area, may not have been caused by the treatment. Our advice is always the same - if something persists for more than 48 hours it is worth getting a medical opinion rather than getting into discussions about what caused it.  The medical assessment usually reveals what happened and the patient can then get the appropriate help as soon as possible.

We hope that the problem resolves of its own accord and that it has not put you off having further treatment.




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