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BPB ALERT – ACUPUNCTURE FINDINGS CONFIRM IT HELPS FOR LOWER BACK PAIN…

Health CMi wrote that Acupuncture is a an effective medical intervention for patients suffering from lower back pain, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School (Boston), Georgetown University (Washington, DC), University of Arizona College of Medicine (Phoenix), and other medical institutions. The findings are based on an evidence-based systematic meta-analysis of numerous clinical trials. The research team adds that their determination is consistent with CDC Guidelines and the American College of Physicians (ACP), which conclude that acupuncture is a “first-line” medical procedure for the treatment of low back pain.

The meta-analysis reviewed important studies, including a 2020 clinical trial of over 550 patients with chronic lower back pain. The total patient sample size was over 26,270 patients. The researchers concluded that true acupuncture produces superior patient outcomes for patients with chronic lower back pain compared with usual care, sham acupuncture, and no treatment.

However, Health CMi pointed out that “there are many variations in acupuncture techniques dependent upon individual diagnostics. Their findings suggest that there are no standards for acupuncture for the treatment of low back pain. “The reality is that there are many standards for the application of acupuncture, dependent upon the etiology of the lower back pain.”

The fact that acupuncture is even being written about as a treatment for low back pain is a start in the right direction.

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ACUPUNCTURE, ANOTHER NATURAL APPROACH TO PAIN RELIEF…

I wrote this post about acupuncture in October 2020 but this week I have concentrated on talking about the different types of healing methods which all include points on your body. From hand reflexology to Auricular Therapy.

2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year, traditional acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practiced in the UK today. Yet statistics show that 1 in 5 of us would only consider acupuncture for sleep as a last resort. Almost a quarter of people admit they didn’t realise acupuncture could benefit them despite its widely recognised health benefits. It is also now available on the NHS.

The NYR Natural News wrote that ‘Treating children with chronic pain can be complex, due to kids’ vulnerability while they’re growing and the fear of causing long-term effects. To make matters worse, studies into the therapeutic options for treating children’s pain is limited’.

Angela Johnson, MSTOM, MPH, practitioner of Chinese medicine of Rush’s Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, led a recent study that found that acupuncture may be a safe and effective add-on integrative medicine treatment for chronic pain in children. Results of the study were published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies‘.

Back in 2009, after having numerous spinal surgeries and also being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was at a stage where no matter what gambit of drugs I was taking I was still in a lot of pain.

I was already having regular aromatherapy massage on my back which I found amazing, but the relief was short-lived, so I decided to go down the complementary therapy route and try something new.

Acupuncture was available at my NHS pain clinic, so I was able to go for regular sessions which were to mainly treat my neck and arm pains. I found these to be beneficial and could notice a difference by the end of each session but as my treatments were only one session every two weeks, I soon found that my pain was back before my next session.

Acupuncture works by stimulating your own body’s healing mechanisms to help with pain and recovery. The concept has been part of traditional Chinese medicine since 1000BC where it was written in scripts on the holistic concept on how it can help heal the body.

It can be helpful in treating health issues that are typically associated with ageing says Natural Health Magazine. “To help support your hormone balance, brain functioning, bone strength, hearing, eyesight and teeth as they age, it’s important to tonify the kidney energy, “ says David. “A powerful acupuncture point is ‘kidney 3,’ also known as ‘supreme stream’, which is at the source point of the kidney energy channel, located close to the inner ankle. This can be effective in helping ease aches and pains.

Without balance in our bodies, there are many health-related problems we can encounter and having an Acupuncture treatment can help to restore your body systems to the right balance. They are quite often referred to as Yin (which is negative) and Yang (which is positive).

The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s explains how Acupuncture works. The acupuncture needle will stimulate the flow of QI [pronounced ‘chee’], which circulates in channels or meridians within the body. The QI circulates within the deeper organs of the body but connects to the superficial skin. In the state of a normal healthy body, a balance exists between these systems. Both the superficial energy and the deeper energy can be influenced by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. If injury, disease, emotional trauma or infection occurs, the natural flow of QI within the meridians and organs may well be affected and the result is an altered flow, either a slowing or stagnation of QI causing pain and inflammation, or a deficit of QI, which may cause weakness, exhaustion and longer debilitating disease. The stimulation of relevant acupuncture points may free stagnation, reduce excess or indeed, increase QI to the specific area or organ and thus help to restore normal QI flow and balance.

There are several techniques in applying Acupuncture by Acupressure or Electro-Acupuncture which enhances the repair mechanism and enables an improved recovery time.

The conventional Acupuncture involves the use of single-use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles of varying widths, lengths and materials that pierce the skin at the Acupuncture points. The Physiotherapist will determine the locations of the Acupuncture points, based upon the assessment of the cause of the imbalance. A number of needles may be used at each treatment and these are typically left in position for some 20-30 minutes before being removed.

Trigger point Acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles following trauma such as whiplash injury; for longer-term unresolving muscle pain such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or as a means to obtain increased muscle length in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation such as sports injuries. Here the needle is placed into the affected muscle until it is felt to relax under the needle and then removed. Trigger point needling is often much quicker and therefore does not require the 20-30-minute treatment time.

Acupressure uses the Physiotherapist’s hands over Acupuncture or trigger points in order to relieve muscle tightness or to stimulate QI flow and balance the body. It is a healing art that uses the fingers of the Physiotherapist on the key Acupuncture points. The amount of pressure used varies according to the condition and requires trained sensitive hands. It is often used with sensitive patients, patients with a needle phobia, children or frail patients.

I do personally believe that Acupuncture and Acupressure can help heal and therefore relieve some pain but what I do not seem to have been able to achieve with this treatment is momentum.

Should it be used weekly, fortnightly, less or more? Is it something you could use to treat yourself? With alternative therapies being preferred by many sufferers for pain relief it’s a case of working out the correct balance of treatments that you need. And, if not available from your NHS finding someone local to give you a session.

I always think another great part of this Complementary Therapy is that your acupuncturist listens to your problems and can adapt the needles accordingly. It is something I am going to go back and have soon. You can find deals and vouchers online.

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AURICULAR THERAPY FOR ACUTE AND CHRONIC PAIN…

Auricular therapy as a treatment for pain is a method of healing by stimulating different acupressure points on the surface of the outer ear.

Auriculotherapy, also known as auricular therapy or ear acupuncture, is a technique which had its origin in Lyon, France. Auricular therapy incorporates the fundamentals of modern medical science based on neurophysiology and neurology, and concepts of traditional acupuncture.

Auricular therapy is based on the idea that the entire body is represented on the auricle – meaning the outer portion of the ear and so the entire body can be effectively treated by applying stimulation on the surface of the ear. Each area of the ear, according to auricular therapy, is related to a different anatomical portion of the body. 

In auricular acupuncture, the ear is seen as a micro system of the body. Auricular therapists believe that there are over 200 points on the ear that are connected to a particular organ, tissue or part of the body. So, if something is out of sync, its corresponding point on the ear may be sensitive or tender to touch and pressure, or a mark, spot or lump can be visible. Stimulation of the ear is then carried out by means of acupuncture needles, minute electric currents or a laser beam.

An auricular acupuncture session involves placing 5 or 6 small, sterile, disposable needles in each ear. The needles are placed in acupoints corresponding to the area to be treated, so they may place a needle in the neck point if you were suffering from pain in that area. It is claimed that the therapy can be helpful for various chronic conditions including rheumatism and arthritis.

This procedure is entirely pain free, and allows the patient to remain relaxed and comfortable. You may feel a tiny sensation in the ear where the point is being treated. This is usually for a second or two and then the sensation goes away. If it feels slightly uncomfortable we can decrease the intensity to where you do not feel it. Most of the time this isn’t necessary as the treatment is tolerable.

The actual practice of manipulating needles in the ear to cure diseases is not a new therapy, but a very ancient one. It has been used for many hundreds of years in some Eastern and Mediterranean countries and in China and is also now becoming popular in the UK.

The treatment duration varies according to the disease and its seriousness. Although auricular therapy is an effective treatment method, it is not advisable for all. To be specific, patients with pacemakers, pregnant women, and patients undergoing homeopathic treatments are not advised auricular therapy. Auricular therapy and acupuncture are free from side effects, particularly auricular therapy, which makes use of electrical stimulation.

Auriculotherapy is good for acute painful problems alleviating pain almost immediately or within 24 to 48 hours. Auriculotherapy is good for chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic painful conditions.

Other conditions include diseases and dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, urinary and cardiovascular systems. Auriculotherapy is very effective for treating addictions. In fact, Auriculotherapy has a seventy five to eighty percent success rate treating patients for smoking or nicotine addiction. There are currently more than 150 indications for the application of Auriculotherapy.

Healthline wrote that people use auricular acupuncture to tackle a range of health concerns including:

  • chronic pain, especially low back pain.
  • migraine.
  • anxiety.
  • insomnia.
  • cancer pain and chemotherapy side effects.
  • weight loss.
  • substance use disorder.
  • depression.
  • digestive issues.
  • allergies

You can find therapists for this treatment on the FHT website.

A good book on the therapy is The Beginner’s Guide to Auricular Therapy: Application of Ear Seeds, by P.Sze 

There is also a great YouTube Video on the therapy.