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Ask an expert - neuro and psycho logical

222 questions

Q. My father has post stroke pain ,  please can you tell us if there is any scientific evidence that acupuncture is helpful for patients suffering from post stroke pain.  our reason for asking this is that we are in the process of challenging our local hospital that is refusing him treatment. Many thanks.

 

A. The short answer is 'no'. Scientific evidence of a kind which satisfies the current gold standard of western research, the randomised double  blind control trial, is in short supply. This, however, is mainly a methodological problem; the practice of traditional acupuncture does not lend itself to standardisation and reducing variables. A review paper on the current evidence for the use of acupuncture after stroke can be found on our website here
 
Although the evidence for the use of acupuncture is not accepted in the West acupuncture is very widely used in China and the Far East for assisting in recovery after stroke. It is not unusual for someone who has had a stroke to receive a course of treatment almost immediately after the initial stage of recovery has passed, and the accepted wisdom is that the earlier treatment starts, the more effective it will be. This does not always work so well in the West, where many patients turn to acupuncture only after conventional methods of treatment are not working as well as they had hoped, and the delay in starting acupuncture treatment may make it less effective.
 
You say that your father's hospital is refusing him treatment, but it is not clear whether this is because they doubt the effectiveness of acupuncture and will not fund it or whether this is because they have concerns about the treatment itself. If it is the former you may well have a struggle to convince them. Evidence based on clinical trials is very much the determining factor. If it because of uncertainty about the safety of treatment the Council has on many occasions been happy to provide evidence that acupuncture in the hands of a properly trained practitioner is extremely safe.

 

Yes. Acupuncture is one of a number of options which have a proven success in dealing with tension-type headaches in the short-term. Headaches are one of the most common reasons why people consult an acupuncturist in the UK, and while we're still waiting for research into the treatment of migraine headache relief to be accepted as thoroughly reliable, the evidence for tension headaches is well-documented and accepted. Not only can treatment deal directly with the symptoms you experience, but the general sense of well-being and relaxation associated with the treatment can help to reduce and hopefully provide temporary relief of the symptoms.

 

 

Many people experience headaches of this nature because of the working patterns of modern life, with the focus on screen-based work and long hours sitting in the same position. Your practitioner will explore with you what practical steps you can take to help the treatment to have the maximum possible benefit.

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