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334 questions

We have checked the BAcC database and they show that one of our members is working from the address. Whether they are the only acupuncturist there is something we cannot tell: membership of a professional association or membership of the BAcC is not a statutory requirement, and there are practitioners who choose to operate independently. We think, however, that this is one of our members, and she appears to be working alongside a statutorily regulated chiropractor

If it is  you can rest assured that you are being treated by someone who is properly trained and qualified. To enter the BAcC someone must have completed three years of degree level training at an accredited college, and over the last twenty years the training for UK acupuncture practitioners has developed tremendously. As a member of the BAcC she is fully insured under our group policy, and also required to abide by some extremely high professional standards, especially in matters of safe practice and conduct.It is not unusual for many of our members to work solely with Yellow Page entries, referrals from the BAcC website and word of mouth referrals. Many choose not to have websites, sometimes because the restrictions on what we can say are quite strictly policed by the Advertising Standards Authority, but mainly because they would rather explain what they do and how they work directly. Some female practitioner also feel a little exposed when advertising their services, and we are sorry to say that we have had cases of stalking and inappropriate attention.We are confident that you can contact her with complete confidence. We are not sure what she charges, but think that this is something you would be better advised to discuss with her directly. We are sure that she will also be willing and able to discuss her marketing strategy, but more to the point we are sure that she will be able to offer you the help that you need if acupuncture treatment is the most appropriate way to address your concerns. 
It is not unusual for people to experience a slight return of some earlier symptoms when they begin acupuncture treatment. This is more often the case with long standing chronic problems like migraine or skin disorders, and we always warn new patients that it is possible they may experience a slight return, sometimes quite extreme, of problems which they may have had many years before. Indeed, in some other similar professions this is known as the law of cure, a return of earlier disorders in reverse chronological order.

The energetic reasons for this are quite complex, and not all practitioners agree on the exact causation. Most take the view, though, especially with traumatic injury, that when it happens it allows some form of disruption to travel into the system and become dormant within the body, so that when the body starts to heal it is then expelled in a similar way to the way it was experienced when it happened. Chinese medicine abounds with expressions like 'releasing the interior' or 'expelling a pathogen' and such like, and they all carry a sense of kicking things out of the system.If this is the case for you, then it is a very heartening response, especially if the process also gets rid of any residual tendency to fibromyalgia at the same time. However, when people get these kinds of reactions we are always careful not to be blase and assume that it is a positive outcome. The key element of a 'good' return of symptoms is that they are usually short lived. If the symptoms return for an extended period of time, then they need to be looked at carefully, especially if they were associated with an accident less than a month ago. These may still be a response to what happened then, and it would be remiss of a practitioner not to point someone back to their GP if the problem persisted for a week or more.Hopefully by the time you read this the pains will have subsided and gone, but if they continue it would be worthwhile to contact your practitioner to discuss what to do and to arrange an appointment with your doctor as a precaution.
We have searched our own database and the databases of several other associations in the UK and we have found no trace of a Lian Chen, nor anyone with a name which is similar. Had the person belonged to a professional body you could rest assured that they had proper professional indemnity cover. In the BAcC, for example, professional indemnity insurance is automatically provided within the annual membership subscription, so when we say that all of our members are fully insured we know this for certain. Some other organisations check the insurance every year, although it is up to the individual practitioner to obtain the deal that they prefer.

The only other way to check whether a practitioner is insured is to contact the local authority under whom the practitioner has to be licensed or registered. There is a piece of legislation called Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982 under which all acupuncture practitioners have to register. Many local authorities check whether an incoming practitioner has proper insurance in place. We suspect that South Gloucestershire Council is the relevant authority for BS34, and a call to its Licensing Department or Environmental Health Department will put you in touch with someone who can tell you whether the person is properly registered. The only people who are exempt from registration are doctors and dentists. We have checked the GMC register and there is no Lian Chen currently registered. This almost certainly means that the title Dr refers to Chinese Medicine and is not a sign of a conventional medicine qualification. If this person is not a doctor then they will have to be registered. We have take the liberty of looking at the address you gave us on google streetview, and we have to say that it doesn't look like an acupuncture practice. However, since there is no trace of the practitioner on the internet it may well be someone who is working from home. We hope that this helps you to get hold of the information you need.
This is an interesting question and comes hot on the heels of one answered earlier today about whether a certain type of ear piercing could have an effect on migraines as a form of acupuncture. The answer to this question was 'not really', and at first glance we would have to say that the same sort of overall logic applies in your case - there are unlikely to be unwanted acupuncture-type treatments caused by the insertion of hypodermic needles. Insofar as this is extremely unlikely to happen we wouldn't really consider it necessary to isolate 'safe areas' for someone.

Indeed, one of the main problems which bedevils attempts to test whether acupuncture works by the use of what is called 'sham' acupuncture points, i.e. places not recognised in classical texts, is that from an energetic point of view there aren't lines of points traversing a kind of inert space. What you really have are places where the energy is very lively and contactable, the points, and areas where the energy is not quite so active. This means that a needle off piste, as it were, is still going to have an effect. In that sense it means that there is no neutral place to stick a hypodermic.There is a great deal more that we could say about intention and technique - it isn't just a matter of finding a specific place and putting a needle in - but the bottom line is that we would have serious doubts that you could be self-treating by accident in giving yourself injections. However, if you wanted to play very safe there are innumerable charts of acupuncture points on the internet showing the flows of the four main channels through the abdomen. It should be fairly straightforward to identify area where the energy is less focused. If it feels more reassuring to inject here, then we can see no harm in so doing.
We have very good evidence in the form of several published surveys and research studies that acupuncture treatment is not only safe but also that the majority of side effects are transient, minor and tend to disappear within 48 hours. However, that does not mean that there are not occasionally more serious side effects.

Where the majority of serious side effects occur, and these remain very rare, it is most often because of a direct effect of the needling in the form of a pneumothorax or nerve damage. We do hear of the occasional case of both, and the BAcC has had to deal two or three such cases in the last decade. Injuries such as you have experienced are much more rare, where the damage arises not from the needling itself but from a physical reaction to the needling, like fainting from needling and then getting bruises from falling.We suspect that your physiotherapist has called it correctly insofar as the reaction to the needle insertion has caused the twisting of the lower back and induced sciatica. Strong reactions to needling are possible, and some people do have electric shock sensations as a genuine consequence of mobilising the energy. This is generally recognisable because it does not fall along nerve pathways as understood in conventional medicine. If the problem has been induced by a kind of physical twist injury it is almost certain that it will resolve quite quickly. Further treatment would help, but we can quite easily imagine that this is not likely to be an option for you.As far as the second occasion is concerned, we suspect that the practitioner may have under-estimated your sensitivity to treatment and used points which do tend to have a higher risk of generating physically painful reactions,. Clearly it would not be fair for us to comment on someone's work without knowing a great deal more  of the case history, and we have all experienced cases where someone has had unexpected and unpleasant reactions to points which we have used thousands of times. The skill of the practitioner lies in then adjusting the treatment to a pitch which the patient can bear by reducing the number of needles, reducing the depth of insertion and the amount of needle manipulation.Where people do have an unpleasant experience of treatment it can induce a kind of 'shock' which may well undo some of the good work already done and cause the overall pattern to become a little disturbed again, bringing back symptoms which had been under control. Our experience, however, is that these episodes rarely result in a permanent loss of progress, and the system usually restores to the point which it had reached before.We are very sorry to hear of your experience, and equally sorry to hear that acupuncture treatment is unlikely to be an option for you in future.  There are many variations within the 2500 year tradition which use minimally invasive techniques, but we can understand how this would probably not be reassurance enough. We do hope that you manage to regain the place which you had reached before this episode occurred, and that you manage to continue to progress from there.
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