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Ask an expert - neuro and psycho logical - dyskinisia

2 questions

Q: I am enquiring if acupuncture could help allieviate my restless leg syndrome (Ekbom Syndrome)symptoms which are now effective my ability to rest in the evening and to sleep.


A:  Restless leg syndrome is awful, as this 'expert' knows from personal experience back in the 80s when nothing, but nothing, would make the problem relent. It is now gaining recognition as a diagnosable problem, with a new name(!), and there are a number of treatment options which are being explored. A review article
cites several of these, and the one acupuncture review this in turn cites
mentions two to three studies which are interesting but generally concludes that the majority of studies are too small and not methodologically sound enough to draw firm conclusions.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, however, there are entirely different ways of looking at the balance of energies within the body which can sometimes make sense of problems such as these within a theoretical structure which is quite different from western medicine. Problems like restless legs syndrome, where the leg feels as though it is 'over-energised' can sometimes make sense in a system of thought which looks at the free flow of energy within the system, and tries to understand the pathologies which arise in terms of excesses and deficiencies, and especially blockages.  A skilled practitioner should very quickly be able to make sense of the energy flows within the system, and be able to offer you some sense of whether there is something which is treatable.
Even where this is not the case it is important to mention that the older theories of Chinese medicine were primarily aimed at balancing the whole system, seeing symptoms only as alarm bells, not the problem itself. Working in this kind of way our members very often have an effect on problems without necessarily being able to give a highly specific audit trail of what is causing something to go wrong.
It would be worth your while to visit a BAcC member local to you to seek their advice and ask whether your specific presentation is something which they feel they may be able to help with.



This is a difficult question to answer without knowing a great deal more about the individual case. A great many cases of tardive dyskinesia are associated with the long-term use of medications for psychiatric disorders, and there is a very delicate balance between lowering the doseage to the point where the symptoms begin to decrease and risking the re-emergence of some of the problems which the drugs are helping to control. In modern psychiatric medicine there are a number of strategies in use to switch people to newer medications with less side effects, tardive dyskinesia being largely associated with the older anti-psychotics drugs, but this will depend on a detailed analysis of the individual by their mental care team.
Quite where acupuncture fits in is difficult to say. There are a number of case studies which one can find on the internet, usually from Japan and China, which show a limited but worthwhile reduction in symptoms, but there have been no major research studies of which we are aware which point to conclusive evidence of successful treatment.
Each case is unique and different, however, and in these kinds of presentations this is especially true. Chinese medicine operates from an entirely different 'paradigm', as the entire system and its conceptual basis is called, and the symptoms which the patient describes and the signs with which they present are understood in terms of balances and flows of energy. It is possible that a practitioner working within this system may be able to diagnose something quite specific which acupuncture may be able to affect. It is also possible that treating the system as a whole, as Chinese medicine does, may mitigate some of the more troublesome symptoms.
Sight unseen, however, it is very difficult to give a more definite answer. Our recommendation is always that someone would find it ,ost beneficial to arrange a short visit to a BAcC member local to them and discuss  face to face whether acupuncture may be a viable option. We trust that our members will give an honest view and not commit people to treatment unless they honestly believe that they may be able to provide some relief of the symptoms.  

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