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Acupuncture made me feel sick

Q: I recently had some accupuncture through my GP. Unfortunately this made me feel extremely sick. Following this I was admitted to hospital for several weeks for treatment for these and other problems. 
However, I am considering trying it again for my cervical dystonia and spondylosis (mainly affecting my left upper back and left side of my neck) which is causing me major problems with pain, stiffness and mobility.
I am hoping you can give me an idea of where the correct points are for any treatment, and how many sessions might be needed?

A: We are sorry to hear of your problems, although we have to say that we would be very surprised if the acupuncture was a significant cause of your admission to hospital. Acupuncture is an extremely safe practice with a very low incidence of adverse events. When these do occur they are very often transient, that is, they last for no more than a day or so and tend to be relatively minor - a headache, feeling very tired, and so on. Serious adverse events are very rare. However, we are heartened that you are considering further treatment.
In answer to your first question, it is impossible to predict where the needles will be applied. The strength of Chinese medicine is that it is primarily focused on treating the person, not simply the symptom. If the practitioner finds that the whole system is out of balance, and takes the view that this needs to be corrected before dealing with a local problem, or instead of treating locally, then the needles could be anywhere on the body. In practice, treatment is often a combination of treatment for the system as a whole and of the affected part, and it is highly likely that there may be one or two needles near the areas where you are experiencing pain and discomfort. Although one cannot predict what a practitioner might do, very often points on the neck and shoulder are supplemented with points lower down the arm on the affected side, but without taking a detailed case history and making a thorough examination it is impossible to say.
As for frequency of treatment it is again difficult to predict. We advise members to review progress regularly to avoid a kind of 'treatment habit' building up. Normally after three, four or five sessions there should be some appreciable change, and the practitioner's task is to discuss with you whether the rate of change is a sign of a long term improvement and to assess how sustainable it is. Treatment which makes you feel well for 24 hours and then reverts, and this happening several times without the change 'holding' is perhaps a sign that the treatment is only offering temporary pain relief. If this is so, then everyone needs to be really clear about possible outcomes if treatment carries on.
We advise you to speak to a BAcC member local to you and see whether you can have a short face to face consultation. The fact that you mention 'other problems' may have a bearing on how well they can treat a single problem against a more complex backdrop. 


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