Q: I have a nerve that is irritated by a slipped disc. The surgeion won't operate and after two x ray guided injections the pain is the same with little change after 8 months. Would accupuncture help me ?
A: There is no doubt that acupuncture treatment can help with low back pain, and equally evidence that it may well be effective for sciatica-type pain, as our two factsheets demonstrate:
However, any BAcC member taking on a case like yours would probably want to know a little more about the exact nature of the problem. The fact that your surgeon will not operate could mean a number of things, and although acupuncture can be very effective at reducing pain, if there is permanent physical or structural damage, then its use would only have a temporary benefit. The fact that two specifically targetted injections have had no effect is also clinically significant. Random injections into an inflamed joint can miss the spot, but X-ray guided ones tend to be effective, even if only for a short while.
However, that said, we do come across situations where the interpretation of the pain someone experiences in Chinese medicine terms means that it may be amenable to treatment. Most people over the age of 60 have some deterioration of the limbar spine, but if they get chronic backache that is not necessarily proof of a causal connectio. Chinese medicine is based on an understanding of the body and mind as a flow of energy,called 'qi', and its flow and balance. Anything which obstructs or weakens this flow can cause pain, and there is not doubt that damage to the physical body can block qi - it's all one body, after all. The question is whether that flow can be restored in spite of the continuing presence of the physical damage.
The only way to find out whether acupuncture treatment is suitable for your specific problem, though, is to visit a BAcC member local to you to arrange a brief face to face assessment. Most members are happy to give up a small amount of time without charge to offer prospective patients a more informed view of whether treatment is worthwhile or whether other forms of intervention may be more appropriate.