Q: Following a fall, an elderly relative has now developed painful abscesses on her leg. Can acupuncture aid the recovery?
A: We would tend to be rather cautious in giving advice on this question. There are a number of medical conditions which can result in abscesses where the use of acupuncture might not be advisable. If you google 'acupuncture' and 'absecesses' you will find that the first dozen or so references are to cases where abscesses are attributed to the acupuncture treatment itself, and one particular case reported by some UK medical colleagues of ours who found that a background of polyarthritis might have predisposed the patient to getting an abscess.
As long as there is no underlying medical condition or problem for which your relative's medical team have given advice that acupuncture is not recommended, there is no reason why your relative should not try acupuncture to see if it may speed up the healing process. In China needles are often used locally to the problem to stimulate the flow of energy and encourage healing, and there may be systemic problems from a Chinese medicine perspective which predisposed your relative to getting abscesses.
Chinese medicine is aimed at treating the person on all levels as much as it focuses on symptoms, and the shock of a fall may well be repercussing through your relative's system and resulting in symptoms of many kinds, the most visible and obvious of which are the abscesses. The skill of the well-trained practitioner lies in making sense of the different symptoms which a patient reports, and together with the diagnostic observations they themselves make, developing a strategy to re-create the balance in the body which the symptoms indicate has been lost.
We would recommend that you first check with your relative's GP whether they think acupuncture would be safe based on the care summary which they hold, and if so, you might want to contact a BAcC member local to your relative to seek their specific advice on whether acupuncture treatment may be of benefit.