Many people come to acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or to relieve specific pains like osteoarthritis of the knee. Some use acupuncture because they feel generally unwell but have no obvious diagnosis. Others choose acupuncture simply to enhance their feeling of wellbeing. Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies and children. It can be used effectively alongside conventional medicine.
Some people turn to acupuncture for help with a specific symptom or condition. Others choose to have treatment to help maintain good health, as a preventive measure, or simply to improve their general sense of wellbeing. Because traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than specific symptoms in isolation, it can be effective for a range of conditions.
Remember that acupuncturists treat the person, not just the condition which they have, so each patient’s treatment plan will be different. Many people return to acupuncture again and again because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.
In 2009 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS, as a cost-effective short-term treatment for the management of early, persistent non-specific lower back pain.
You can get more information on current scientific research into the effectiveness of acupuncture by visiting www.acupuncture.org.uk.
A lot of people seek acupuncture to help relieve specific conditions, especially pain conditions such as tension headaches, migraines, neck or back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee and temporomandibular joint pain. Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture does relieve these symptoms, at least in the short term. Whatever your problem, because treatment is designed to affect your whole body and not just your symptoms, you may notice other benefits with a course of treatment. Indeed, some people choose acupuncture when they feel their bodily functions are out of balance, but they have no obvious diagnosis. Once tried, many people have regular or ‘top-up’ treatments because they find it so beneficial and relaxing. For some conditions, such as migraine, acupuncture can be given to prevent flare-ups from occurring. People also have acupuncture for other health problems. For example, there is clinical evidence that acupuncture provides short-term relief for overactive bladder syndrome. Another benefit of acupuncture is that it can be given alongside other therapies and/ or medication, in almost all circumstances.
Researchers can only draw firm conclusions about whether acupuncture is effective or not when high quality evidence is available. In the last decade, the evidence regarding some chronic pain conditions has become much stronger. Based on this evidence, in 2017, the National Institute for Health and Research issued a Signal (a short summary of recently published research) that acupuncture was effective for some chronic pain and was not a placebo. However, for many conditions there are simply not enough good quality clinical trials for researchers to draw firm conclusions.