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Ask an expert - neuro and psycho logical

222 questions

Q: Two questions; the first, could you tell me the procedure for acupuncture to treat anxiety and second, could you tell me of any specialist acupuncturists that treat anxiety in my area. I live in Newark on Trent NG24.

A:  This may seem a little bit of a non-answer but there are no specific procedures for treating anxiety, nor specific points used for the treatment. The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it treats every person as a unique individual, and treatment is accordingly personalised to the unique needs of each individual. Western disease labels are useful but far too inclusive, and a practitioner of Chinese medicine will want to know exactly how you experience anxiety. There is a cluster of possible symptoms, and seen from a Chinese medicine perspective these will illuminate a diagnosis about how the system as a whole is coping. Treatment is then primarily aimed at restoring balance to the whole system in the simple but effective (from our point of view!) that a system in balance sorts itself out.

There are obviously some parts of the system which are more likely to be implicated in the usual suspects of anxiety, like palpitations, insomnia or panic attacks, but in Chinese medicine the symptom and the cause are rarely the same thing. Treating symptoms after a cook-book formula style may buy someone a little bit of remission, but will not be as effective as treating the underlying problem. This is where the true skill and art of the practitioner lies.

It also follows that there are no specialists in this area. We are all equally well trained to treat people, whatever their specific symptoms. There is a small number of areas like paediatrics and obstetrics where we are in the process of recognising what counts as expert practice, but we do not anticipate defining expert practice in areas like anxiety or depression for the foreseeable future. In fact in ancient China the specialist was somewhat looked down on for only treating a small range of problems, and the generalist was the most highly esteemed.

If you use the postcode facility on our home page you will be able to find a number of practitioners who are geographically closest to where you live. Most are more than happy to afford you a short time without charge to discuss how acupuncture may be of benefit to you, and this will give you an opportunity to meet them and see where they work, which many prospective patients find very reassuring.

 

Q:. Two questions; the first, could you tell me the procedure for acupuncture to treat anxiety and second, could you tell me of any specialist acupuncturists that treat anxiety in my area. I live in Newark on Trent NG24. 

A: This may seem a little bit of a non-answer but there are no specific procedures for treating anxiety, nor specific points used for the treatment. The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it treats every person as a unique individual, and treatment is accordingly personalised to the unique needs of each individual. Western disease labels are useful but far too inclusive, and a practitioner of Chinese medicine will want to know exactly how you experience anxiety. There is a cluster of possible symptoms, and seen from a Chinese medicine perspective these will illuminate a diagnosis about how the system as a whole is coping. Treatment is then primarily aimed at restoring balance to the whole system in the simple but effective (from our point of view!) that a system in balance sorts itself out. 

There are obviously some parts of the system which are more likely to be implicated in the usual suspects of anxiety, like palpitations, insomnia or panic attacks, but in Chinese medicine the symptom and the cause are rarely the same thing. Treating symptoms after a cook-book formula style may buy someone a little bit of remission, but will not be as effective as treating the underlying problem. This is where the true skill and art of the practitioner lies.

It also follows that there are no specialists in this area. We are all equally well trained to treat people, whatever their specific symptoms. There is a small number of areas like paediatrics and obstetrics where we are in the process of recognising what counts as expert practice, but we do not anticipate defining expert practice in areas like anxiety or depression for the foreseeable future. In fact in ancient China the specialist was somewhat looked down on for only treating a small range of problems, and the generalist was the most highly esteemed.

If you use the postcode facility on our home page you will be able to find a number of practitioners who are geographically closest to where you live. Most are more than happy to afford you a short time without charge to discuss how acupuncture may be of benefit to you, and this will give you an opportunity to meet them and see where they work, which many prospective patients find very reassuring.

Q:I have suffered from insomnia for 25 years. I had acupuncture 20 years ago which did help me sleep eventually for a year. Since then I have tried hypnotherapy, counselling and I am on and off sleeping tablets which make me feel groggy. I am now re looking at acupuncture but I am not sure who to see? The previous acupuncture clinic of 20 years ago is no longer there. I live in Chandlers Ford Hampshire. Any suggestions would be greatly received as I feel so exhausted all the time.

A:  We are sorry to hear that your sleeping problems have returned but pleased to hear that they responded well to acupuncture before. This usually means that there is good reason to expect that they will do so again.

Finding a practitioner local to you could not be easier. On our website home page there is a postcode search facility which will offer you a number of suggestions who are geographically nearest to you. All of our members are trained and qualified to the same very high standards, so it is really a matter of finding someone who you can do business with. Most practitioners are more than happy to invite you for a brief face to face assessment before you commit to treatment and this will offer you a chance to meet them in their work surroundings.

We hope that acupuncture treatment offers the same results again and helps you to regain your joie de vivre.

 

Q:  Please can you suggest the best type of acupuncture for vestibular migraine? I have no headache but daily vertigo/dizziness symptoms.

A:  Acupuncture has a surprisingly good record with treating the different varieties of vertigo/dizziness/Menieres kinds of problems, as our factsheet on vertigo shows:

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/2599-vertigo.html

The evidence is not quite robust enough for us to be able to make claims for success, but this is more a reflection of the type of evidence sought, by which acupuncture treatment is not, in our view, appropriately tested. We treat many people with these types of problem, and we have to presume that the fact we keep getting referrals indicates that we must be doing some good.

We think we are probably helped by the fact that there are some clearly defined functional elements as defined within Chinese medicine which are responsible for the sense of balance in the body, and this makes tracking the pathways of imbalances a great deal easier. This means that there are some short term treatments which one can apply in a slightly less holistic way to bring things under control while spending time on the underlying patterns of imbalance from which the balance problems usually emerge as a secondary phenomenon. You have probably read that twenty people presenting with the same  symptom might be treated in twenty different ways because each has a unique balance which needs to be adjusted. This holds true, but doesn't preclude direct help to one of the secondary manifestations if we need to help someone as best we can.

You ask about types of acupuncture, and we have to be honest and say that within traditional acupuncture any of the systems will be equally effective in addressing your problems. Seen from the perspective of balancing the system as a whole, there have been dozens of variations on the basic themes in the 2500 year history of the tradition, and all are equally valid ways of elaborating the core concepts. We would be less optimistic about modern traditions, as you could imagine from what we have already said. Treating the symptom as the source of the problem will obviously work in cases where there is nothing else out of kilter, but our experience is that there usually is, and just using formula treatments for problems often leads to short term gain followed by a return to the status quo.

We have checked our database by using the online search facility and have found a number of people working very close to where you live. The postcode facility is even more precise, so we have no doubt that you will be able to find a well trained and qualified practitioner near to where you live. Most offer a facility of dropping in for a chat before committing to treatment, and this might be a good route to pursue, giving you a chance to meet them and see where they work.

Q:  Three years ago my wife suffered a severe cranial infarction which has left her totally incapacitated on her right side permanently bed ridden and doubly incontinent. She is well cared for in a nursing home and is fortunately left handed. There is no prospect of any sort of recovery, but she is troubled by very severe pains which she agrees are of a cramp like nature in her right lower arm and elbow area. These come and go and leave her in agony for hours each day and seriously depressed. Is there any possibility that acupuncture techniques might reduce or remove these sudden bouts of pain?re sorry to hear of your wife's continuing problems.

A:  We are always a little careful when we answer questions based on possibility. Everything is possible. Every treatment works for someone but this falls a long way short of some treatment working for everyone. We have produced a fairly hefty review paper


http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/arrc/public-review-papers/stroke-and-acupuncture-the-evidence-for-effectiveness.html

which details the many studies of post stroke/CVA treatment. In China acupuncture has a much more central place in the treatment of stroke/CVA, especially immediately after the event. Treatment often commences the day of the event itself, and the aim is to restore the proper flow of energy as soon as possible. It is also used quite frequently in this context as well, getting rid of a residual symptom which either does not leave after the stroke or emerges as a consequence of the change of use associated with the problem.

As you probably know from your researched so far traditional acupuncture is based on theories of energy, called qi, and its flow and balance in the body. Pain only arises where the flow is blocked or where it is seriously deficient or in excess, and the needles are used to restore balance. In order to get a really good idea of what may be possible for your wife's problem you will need someone to take a look and make a face to face assessment. At this remove all that we could say is that it is not untypical of the sorts of problems we have addressed, and sometimes very effectively, but we are reluctant to say 'go ahead' because there may be aspects of your wife's condition which a practitioner would see immediately were likely to cause difficulties beyond the scope of acupuncture.

Hopefully your wife's nursing home is near enough to a BAcC member that they could easily pop in and give you a better sense of what is possible. Home visits are not the most popular option for some members because many are reluctant to charge for the additional time it takes to arrive and set up, but there are still enough who do to encourage us that this is a reasonable possibility.


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