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I am suffering terrible with edema, to the point I can't stand as I can't hold my own weight. Would acupuncture help me? I'm willing to try anything and desperate for help.

This sounds very distressing, and we're sorry to hear that your ability to get out and about has been so badly affected.


Because acupuncture is based on an entirely different set of theories and principles to western medicine, it is quite difficult to say 'acupuncture treats oedema' because from a Chinese perspective you'd want to know where the oedema is, what kind of oedema it is, what else is going on in the system, what medications you're taking, and so on. It is certainly true that the Chinese have for over two thouand years some very sophisticated ways of explaining in terms of body energies why fluids gather, and equally sophisticated ways of trying to help them disperse.


If the oedema has progressed as far as it has in your case, though, there are one or two concerns. First is that needling into an oedematous area itself carries an increased risk of infection. It is not uncommon that any needling, eastern or western, causes the visible loss of fluids, and the skin tends not to 'close' with the same elasticity when a needle is removed. The risk of cellulitis and other painful infections is increased.


Second is that, like weight loss, it is highly unlikely that acupuncture is the only treatment option being explored, and even with the best possible outcomes the loss of fluid will take weeks or possibly months. If several routes are being tried simultaneously it is often difficult to establish which is effective, or whether it is the combination of all of them. From the perspective of the patient in distress this is not usually a problem, but professionally we like our members to be able to be very clear that they believe there are good grounds for believing within our own diagnostic assessment processes that the acupuncture is having a measurable effect.


The one practical problem we foresee is that you might have difficulty getting to a practitioner, and may need home visits. For a variety of reasons many members do not offer this facility, and it may take a while to establish whether anyone can get to you. We don't routinely record who does and doesn't work in this way.


It might also be worth mentioning that a number of our members are also members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Chinese Herbal Medicine is based on the same broad principles as acupuncture treatment, and you may find that aranging a visit with a herbalist who can prescribe herbal medicines which you can take daily may be a very satisfactory alternative.


Our advice is to contact a BAcC member local to you and ask theit advice on treatment, home visits and possibly dual-registered practitioners in your area. We are sure that they will do their very best to see that you can find some help for your problems.

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