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235 questions

Q: My left ankle and foot often swell up a lot.   This happens most often in times of hot weather, if I have had less than about 6 hrs of sleep at night, during or prior to my period and with alcohol consumption.   It is usually very uncomfortable - creating a feeling of pressure and 'dull ache' around my ankle and up my leg.   I was told by someone who suffers similar symptoms that this may be due to my lymphatic system not working or draining properly (this is what she was diagnosed with). I am a  29yr old female, and do light exercise.   I am wondering whether acupuncture could help. 


A: Although systems of medicine can be entirely different in their basic frameworks and understanding of how the body works, all start from the same point - the symptom with which a patient presents at the clinic and the observations and tests which the practitioner makes within the system they use. Your pattern of symptoms is certainly one which would immediately suggest three or four possibilities to a Chinese medicine practitioner, and their first thought would probably be to look at other aspects of your physical health and function to see what else was going on. It is rare for symptoms to stand alone; there is generally a pattern affecting the body in a number of ways. although a patient may not think this was so. The failure of the short term memory or a recent tendency to bruise quite easily might not seem particularly relevant, but were either of these to occur alongside what you are experiencing a practitioner might find them to be useful confirming evidence.




Even where there is not a direct connection to a specific malfunction in the system it is important to remember that the essence of traditional chinese medicine is to achieve balance in the whole system with the simple premise in mind that a system in balance does not generate symptoms. many practitioners work in this way equally as successfully as those whose training is more syndrome focussed.




Our best advice to you is to visit a BAcC member local to you and seek their advice. From what you describe very clearly, there are a number of factors which make your problem manifest which point to imbalances in the system, and we would expect one of our members to be able to give you a very clear idea of whether you could benefit from treatment.




Q: Can acupuncture be used to help the symptoms of travel sickness? My job involves travelling in the back of a vehicle and can be quite unbearable sometimes.


A: Although the use of acupuncture for the treatment of motion sickness has not been researched that thoroughly, there have been a relatively large number of studies of acupressure because of the prevalence of the 'Sea Band' type of acupressure devices. These make use of a well-proven link between the use of acupressure on a point on the forearm near the wrist crease and the reduction in nausea after surgery. The studies into nausea and motion sickness are less conclusive, with the best results achieved being usually only the increase in the delay before the onset of the problem.
That said, we hear enough anecdotal reports from members to suggest that there can be improvements but that it is difficult to predict which patients this might apply to. We do not think that treatment with acupuncture could do any harm, and a properly trained and qualified practitioner may be able to make sense of the symptom within the wider context of the understanding of the system in Chinese medicine. Motion sickness has been around since ancient times, and the Chinese had a clear understanding of certain presentations of it within their conceptual frameworks, and with this some very clear patterns of treatment to pursue. If the way in which your problem manifests is similar to these defined syndromes it may make a practitioner feel more confident in offering some hope of a reduction in symptoms, but sight unseen it is difficult for us to say. It would be best to seek advice from a brief face to face conversation with a BAcC member local to you.

Q:  Can Accupuncture help in excess sweating of face and scalp


A: We have been asked this question before, and the response we gave was
Q: I suffer from severe hyperhydrosis, (severe excessive sweating), specifically of the head, face and neck. This condition is very distressing and frankly is ruining my life. Please can you tell me if acupuncture is an appropriate therapy for this condition? 


A:  We  replied:




We always stress in cases such as yours that the different way of looking at the body and its functions in Chinese medicine can sometimes offer additional possibilities for treatment. Although, as we said, there is not a great deal of research evidence accepted in the West, in China nearly every condition has been researched at some stage, including hyperhydrosis. Results are often slightly equivocal - the question becomes not 'does it work?' but 'how much does it work and how sustainable is the improvement?' - but this reflects life; some people improve after treatment, others don't.
We can say with certainty that treatment at the hands of a properly trained and qualified practitioner will not do you any harm, and the practitioner may, by assessing your problem in the light of what else is happening in your system, be able to offer some help. The best advice, as always, is to contact a BAcC member local to you and ask their advice face to face.




We would also add now that there are a number of specific syndromes recognised in Chinese medicine where sweating is a central symptom, and if there were other confirming evidence of this syndrome the practitioner could say with some confidence that they could offer some hope through treatment. Even where the symptom stands alone, the essence of Chinese medicine is to treat the person, not the condition, and the older systems were premised on the simple belief that if everything was functioning as it should then symptoms of whatever nature would resolve.


Q:   Can an  armpit lump be treated by acupuncture sessions. On average how many sessions are requried for such kind of health conditions ?


A:  Our first response to this question would be to ask whether you have had this problem examined by your GP. Any unusual lump on the body needs to be examined carefully, and especially in the areas where there is a concentration of lymph glands. If you have not done so already we advise you to see your GP soon to have the lump examined. The majority of lumps are benign but if this indicates a problem the sooner it is dealt with the better.
From a Chinese medicine perspective there are a number of systemic reasons why lumps appear, and also local blockages. In either case a practitioner should be able to give you a rough indication of whether they think it can be treated with acupuncture and if so how likely it is to resolve. Most BAcC members are very careful not to commit patients to extended treatment unless the treatment is showing signs of really benefiting the problem, and most again would not go beyond four or five sessions if there was no real sign of change. They would at very least review the position with a patient at this point.
It would be impossible to say how many treatments would be needed, however. There is such a large variety of possible causes, some of which might be easier to treat than others. we advise you to seek the advice of a BAcC member local to you. They will be able to give you a much clearer idea in a brief face to face assessment. 

Q: My son was born with a rare liver condition. He had his first operation at 2 months old to try to save his failing liver. Sadly this operation was not successful and at the age of 8 months he had liver transplant. Again his luck was not so good and this failed after 3 days leaving him massively brain damaged due to global hypoxia. His limbs are somewhat uncontrolled, he cannot support his head and dystonia makes him have rigid posses.  He is now 11 months old and going through PT, OT and some SLT.   From your experience can acupuncture help my son ?

A:  We are very sorry to hear of your son's plight, and cannot begin to imagine what you have been going through.
Much as we would like to have positive news, we are not that confident that acupuncture would provide enough measurable benefits. There is no doubt that there have been one or two studies which have shown that acupuncture has had positive effects, but these date back twenty years or more and have not been followed up by more recent research. We are sure that acupuncture could do no harm, but how successful it might be is difficult to say. As a general observation children do seem to respond very well to treatment, often achieving considerable improvements after very little intervention, and that may be a positive encouragement to giving it a try.
The one thing we would say is that while we do not recognise specialisms - our stance is one of generalism, all members are equipped to deal with any patient - there are a number of areas where are looking closely at the standards of training needed to claim expertise, and one of these is paediatrics. There are a couple of recognised postgraduate courses which qualify people to treat children and babies, and it is true to say that babies and small children are not simply tiny adults; there are specific treatments which apply to them alone.
We aren't able to give out specific recommendations but searching google with 'acupuncture treatment children' will quickly identify someone in your area who may be able to help you and with whom you can discuss your son's problems.


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