Q: My wife is currently seeing an osteopath after 9 procedures at the local hospital relating to two split discs and a prolapse. Even though he has 30 years experience he has told my wife that adhesions caused from the procedures are making it difficult for him to help with the pain control.
Therefore I was wondering if acupuncture is worth trying?
A: It's always difficult not to sound trite when we say that acupuncture is always worth trying, but we all work in a tradition which is based on treating people, not simply the conditions or injuries which they have. By working in this way according to principles which have been developed and refined for over 2000 years we try to restore the balance of the energies of the body which in turn can encourage the body to repair better, and generally hope to elicit changes on all levels, physical mental and emotional.
Of course, this is all very much 'big picture' stuff, and there is plenty of evidence at the sharp end of practice about direct help for specific problems. As our factsheet shows
pain relief was and remains one of the most commonly researched areas of acupuncture treatment, not least because there are plentiful assessment tools to help patients to quantify their experience and a significant number of objective pain measures which allow researchers to assess the efficacy of treatment. The evidence for the successful use of acupuncture for pain relief is plentiful, and while it is not yet wholly conclusive nearly every pain management clinic offers acupuncture as one of its packages. The only area of concern is how sustainable any improvements are alongside the degree to which pain reduces, an we rely on the probity of our members to discuss the benefits which treatment confers in relation to its continuing cost. Even where someone can easily afford the cost of regular treatment our member still have a responsibility to ensure that the investment in time and money is a wise one.
Mention of adhesions also brings to our collective mind the issue of scar tissue from surgery which in itself become a problem. We once commented directly on this:
However, scar tissue does have implications for someone's health within Chinese medicine. As you may have read from our website, the theories of Chinese acupuncture are based on the understanding of the body mind and emotions as a complex flow of energy called 'qi'. The distribution, balance and flow of this energy in what are called meridians or channels are what sustain us and keep us in good health. Scar tissue impacts on this flow in Chinese medicine theory as much as it impacts the physical health of an area in conventional medicine, and is especiually relevant in Chinese medicine because it is seen to impair flow. When this happens, the result is pain; a great many of the surface aches and pains which people experience often link to blockages or local stagnation, and the use of needles can often help to disperse this.
It is possible that treatment may help to restore healthy flow in the area of the operation.
Our best advice is to visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal face to face assessment of what might be possible. It is probable that the osteopath may know a BAcC member locally with whom they cross refer patients, and we often have very productive cross-referrals with osteopaths in cases like this where the sum of the treatments appears to be greater than the individual parts, as the work of each enables the other to make more progress than might be achieved by a single modality.