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 were asked about foot drop some time ago and we responded:

There are a number of case studies, relatively small in terms of the numbers of participants, which seem to show positive and encouraging results for the use of acupuncture for foot drop after strokes. However, the evidence is by no means comprehensive or conclusive enough for us to give a positive recommendation for treatment.

However, a great deal depends on what else is going on in your system. Foot drop as an isolated symptom is unusual, and very often there is a more complex neurological picture within which this sits.  If there isn't, then from a Chinese medicine perspective the weakness would be understood in terms of a blockage or weakness in the flow of energy, or 'qi' as it is called. The  practitioner would probably use a combination of local and distal points to try to restore proper function in the tendons and muscles affected by or causing the condition.

If there is a wider pattern of dysfunction, however, then the chances are that this will be a neurological problem whose treatment with acupuncture would be less likely to be successful.

However, there is no substitute for a face to face assessment in cases like yours and we believe that it would be worthwhile visiting a BAcCc member local to you to benefit from their advice. If they feel that acupuncture will not be of use, we are confident that they may have other suggestions about what forms of treatment may be best for you.

We have gone back to the research databases to see what, if anything, has happened since we gave this response, and not surprisingly the few studies which we found are pretty much the same of what can still be found. You might find this interesting

https://www.slideshare.net/JudithMiller3/acupuncture-for-the-treatment-of-foot-drop-a-case-report

and also this

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/564-acupunctureceusfootdropstroke

but not for the faint-hearted is this Youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnITeO-8Dt0

As far as the nerve pain is concerned, again it very much depends on what is causing it. There are so many possibilities that it would be unwise for us to speculate on what it may be. Some cases are amenable to treatment, like the neuropathy which arises after chemotherapy, and some less so, like peripheral neuropathy arising from diabetes which  can often prove intractable. However, each case is unique and individual, so you are well advised to follow the route suggested in our previous response and contact a local BAcC member for a chat about your own individual presentation.

We are very sorry to hear of your problems. Our experience of working with women with several IVF attempts behind them is that the emotional consequences of the constant cycle of hope and disappointment can weigh heavily for a very long time.

However, the fact that you are still producing good quality eggs is a cause for hope, although your age is starting to become a factor. While this is the case, and while your partner's sperm are still in good shape, there is still a chance of a natural conception, and the use of acupuncture can perhaps make the body as well prepared as it can be for this.

An increasing number of our members now undertake specialist postgraduate training in fertility and obstetrics, and while we pride ourselves on our generalist practice, we are likely before long to recognise one or two areas of expert practice, this being one and paediatrics the other. This would mean recognising the training which someone had and allowing them to claim expertise. As such we are not yet in a position to point you towards someone in your area with that particular form of expertise, but if you type 'acupuncture fertility and your home town' into google we suspect that two or three names at least will pop up with the requisite background.

Our website factsheet

 https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/female-fertility.html

speaks of a number of studies of mixed quality which suggest that acupuncture can have an impact, but there are no special points to use which make conception more likely. Our experience is that dealing with someone's overall balance, as we do with all patients, is often the single best way of helping someone to conceive. The reasons why conception fails are often linked to functional disturbances in the system as a whole, and correcting these maximises the chance of a natural pregnancy simply by improving someone's overall health. The advantage of seeking out someone with specialist training, though, is that there are often related factors to do with diet and exercise which can help a woman to have a better chance to conceive, and these may not be a factor in everyone's undergraduate training.

The majority of our members are happy to give up a little time without charge to discuss with prospective patients whether acupuncture might be a good option for them, and we recommend this as your first move. We are confident that the advice that you give will have your best interests at heart, not simply an invitation to sign up immediately



With a problem like nerve pain there might just be an outside chance that you might qualify for some sessions at your local NHS Pain Clinic.

The provision of acupuncture within the NHS and free at point of delivery is not that good. Very few of our members now have contracts to provide a service with the current pressure on funding, and while a number of doctors may choose to offer some treatment, the majority of treatment available comes from physios who tend to use it within their scope of practice. The catch is that i someone chooses to offer treatment they have to have a good evidence base and the treatment has to fall within their scope of practice. In both cases this might lessen your chance of finding treatment locally with either a physio or doctor. You could, though, ask your GP for a referral in case he or she does know someone who could help.

Most areas have pain clinics, though, and these very often use acupuncture for chronic pain management. There is a relatively solid evidence base for acupuncture as a tool for pain relief, and if you can get a referral this might be one of the options you are offered. However, there does tend to be a limit to the number of sessions you will be offered, so it may not prove a long term solution.

It always pays to ask around our members for any info they have about other ways of getting affordable treatment. Most of us are prepared to reduce fees if there is a good case, although we tend not to advertise this fact because we end up with a great deal of bargaining by people who can usually well afford to pay but would like to strike a deal. Another option would be to see if there is a multi-bed facility in your area. Some members are offering treatments in a group setting a much lower rates, and details of these can be found on  http://acmac.net/.

Perhaps the best first steep, though, would be to talk to a local BAcC member to see whether the nerve pain you have is suitable for treatment. Most are, but some aren't, and it would be useful to know if it is worth pursuing something. Most of our colleagues are happy to give up a little time without charge to discuss treatment with prospective patients, and this might be a useful strategy for finding out if treatment is worth going after and whether they know of someone locally who may be able to help.

With a problem like nerve pain there might just be an outside chance that you might qualify for some sessions at your local NHS Pain Clinic.

The provision of acupuncture within the NHS and free at point of delivery is not that good. Very few of our members now have contracts to provide a service with the current pressure on funding, and while a number of doctors may choose to offer some treatment, the majority of treatment available comes from physios who tend to use it within their scope of practice. The catch is that i someone chooses to offer treatment they have to have a good evidence base and the treatment has to fall within their scope of practice. In both cases this might lessen your chance of finding treatment locally with either a physio or doctor. You could, though, ask your GP for a referral in case he or she does know someone who could help.

Most areas have pain clinics, though, and these very often use acupuncture for chronic pain management. There is a relatively solid evidence base for acupuncture as a tool for pain relief, and if you can get a referral this might be one of the options you are offered. However, there does tend to be a limit to the number of sessions you will be offered, so it may not prove a long term solution.

It always pays to ask around our members for any info they have about other ways of getting affordable treatment. Most of us are prepared to reduce fees if there is a good case, although we tend not to advertise this fact because we end up with a great deal of bargaining by people who can usually well afford to pay but would like to strike a deal. Another option would be to see if there is a multi-bed facility in your area. Some members are offering treatments in a group setting a much lower rates, and details of these can be found on  http://acmac.net/.

Perhaps the best first steep, though, would be to talk to a local BAcC member to see whether the nerve pain you have is suitable for treatment. Most are, but some aren't, and it would be useful to know if it is worth pursuing something. Most of our colleagues are happy to give up a little time without charge to discuss treatment with prospective patients, and this might be a useful strategy for finding out if treatment is worth going after and whether they know of someone locally who may be able to help.

We are sorry to hear that you are faced with such a long wait for a specialist opinion. All we can say with certainty is that acupuncture is very probably not going to make things any worse and may well help to address the symptoms and reduce the pain.

The theory of acupuncture, as you have probably read, is about the flow of energy, which we call 'qi', and its correct balance and flow within the body. Essentially all of the theory boils down to techniques to understand how and where blockages and imbalances arise, and skills with needles and moxa to reinstate the normal flow. The simple underlying premise is that where energy flows as it should then everything should function as it is supposed to.

When people have accidents there is often inflammation and deep bruising which from a Chinese medicine perspective can mean a blockage in the flow of energy which is more than the body can correct. Sometimes this is a local problem, but at other times it may be indicative of a general weakening of the system which means that there isn't enough energy to sort out the body's more peripheral problems . The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it can look at the overall context rather than simply picking off symptoms one at a time.

Soaking your hands in ice cold water no doubt does help, mainly by providing a temporary deadening of the sensation, but we would advise any patient to be cautious about doing this for too long after an injury. It is always helpful to apply ice straight away to stop excessive swelling, but after a while the repeated cooling actually starts to work against the body, causing the stuck energy to become even more stuck. If you are going to use cold we suggest that you alternate with some heat to try to encourage flow as well. Alternating hot and cold is the option many physios will recommend to people with injuries.

The best advice that we can give is that you visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal assessment of whether acupuncture might be a good idea. Most members are happy to give up a little time without charge to see a problem in the flesh and advise on whether acupuncture treatment might help, and this is your best route. It's a pity we don't know more about the nature of your accident, whether it results from a sprain or a fall. However, the fact that the pain is referring up the arm could be indicative either of nerve impingement (from a western medicine perspective) or a blockage in the flow of energy in the channels (from a Chinese medicine perspective), both of which are more encouraging in terms of potential recovery. we certainly hope so.

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