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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
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

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.

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

and also this

but not for the faint-hearted is this Youtube video

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

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

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.

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