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Acupuncture and bowel problems

Q:  My wife had surgery for bowel cancer 3 years ago. Since then she has had a great deal of trouble managing her bowel movements and has had daily panic rushes to the little room! She has found this very difficult and distressing. Can acupuncture help and if so is there somebody with expertise in the area of bowel cancer treatment and its after effects that could help her? We live in Pulborough, West Sussex about 12 miles north of Worthing/south of Horsham.

A:  It is extremely difficult to generalise about the treatment of bowel frequency and urgency after surgery for bowel cancer. So much depends on the amount of tissue removed and exactly where from, and it is not uncommon for it to take a long time to restore normal function. There is evidence for the treatment of urgency, frequency and discomfort within the conglomeration of symptoms under the heading of irritable bowel syndrome
 
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs.html
 
but this is not quite the same as surgical resection.
 
There are two possible ways in which acupuncture treatment may be of benefit. Acupuncture is increasingly used to aid normal recovery processes in a great many areas, and although the research of these cases is still broadly in its infancy, there is no doubt in our minds from the anecdotal evidence we have that people do tend to recover more quickly and 'better' from surgery. This expert has on many occasions treated patients pre- and post- cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) to very good effect. This is not a surprise, however; although a great deal of modern focus is on treating named conditions traditional chinese medicine was primarily concerned with restoring balance and homeostasis. Whe you consider the massive disruption to the whole system caused by surgery, anything aimed at helping to restore natural order is probably going to be of benefit.
 
The other possibility is that there has been disruption to specific parts of the system in such a way as to cause frequency and urgency. From a Chinese medicine perspective knowing the cause of a problem is sometimes less important than recognising how it manifests. If the pattern of signs and symptoms which your wife has approximates to one of the recognised syndromes, then there may well be some help which a practitioner could offer. The only and best way to see if this is the case is to seek an informal face to face assessment from a BAcC member local to you. Most will offer you a little time without charge to assess better than we can here whether treatment may be of benefit.
 
As far as expert practitioners are concerned, we take the view that all of our members are properly trained to be able to offer good Chinese medicine to any patient they see. There may be some value in seeking out someone with a few more years of experience in dealing with patients with serious conditions, but that will not change the basic principles of diagnosis and treatment which we all offer. There are a number of extremely well-qualified and experienced practitioners in your area, including two in Pulborough itself, and we are sure that by using our search function you will be able to locate someone who may be able to help your wife.  

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