Who has acupuncture

Anyone can benefit from acupuncture. At the college where I trained an audit was carried out in 2002 to define a typical sample of patients. (A.Vickers, Audit and Outcome Study Report, College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, Reading, April 2002) They found approximately 67% were women of ages ranging from 10-88 years with an average of 41 years. Of the conditions treated most were chronic with over 80% having had their condition for over a year. The majority of patients seen have musculo-skeletal complaints, from acute sports injuries to arthritis and joint pain, the next largest group have general or unspecific symptoms such as general pain, weakness, tiredness, allergies, viral or infectious diseases, which covers a broad range of physical symptoms in specific parts of the body such as digestive conditions, gynaecological problems, lung complaints, bowel and urinary disorders, eye, ear nose and throat problems, heart conditions and thyroid disorders. The third largest group has psychological conditions that include; stress, depression, insomnia, poor memory or concentration. So as can be seen, acupuncture benefits a wide range of people suffering from a wide range of problems.

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How many sessions will I need?

As acupuncture is an holistic medicine and every patient is different, each treatment is unique to each person. Thus the frequency and length of treatment depends on your individual condition. However if the condition is acute then it can usually be treated in 4-5 sessions or less. If the condition is chronic then as a rule of thumb a month of treatment of weekly sessions is given for every year the patient has had their condition. Once treatment is completed patients will often have ‘top up’ treatments as a preventative measure so that their good health is maintained.

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Does acupuncture hurt?

This is probably the most often asked question! Most patients don’t feel the needle but do feel a ‘sensation’ that is called deqi that is elicited when the needle reaches the Qi of the body. This sensation varies from an ache, a dragging sensation, a feeling of warmth, a tingling and sometimes a fast moving electric shock sensation. All these sensations are fleeting, and once they have settled most patients find they forget the needles are in. The needles themselves are very fine, some no thicker than a human hair. Therefore, it is unusual for any blood, although a small pinprick of blood can sometimes occur, as can a bruise at the site of the needle.

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Will acupuncture interfere with my medication?

Acupuncture has no adverse effect on any medication, and there is no need to stop taking any medication before acupuncture treatment. Some medication such as Warfarin and Aspirin means there is a greater risk of a small drop of blood at the needle site and of bruising, but this does not prevent the person from having acupuncture.In many cases acupuncture can help the patient cut down on their medication, however, the prescribing physician must endorse any alteration in medication.

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How will I feel afterwards?

Most patients describe a feeling of calm and of being relaxed immediately after acupuncture treatment. The effects of the treatment can take 24 – 48 hours to settle and there can be a ‘flare up’ of symptoms that will subside and settle after that time. Some patients find it takes a few sessions to feel any effect on their symptoms so this is why it is advised to have 3 – 4 treatments, as they have a cumulative effect.

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Does private insurance cover acupuncture treatment?

At the present time the two market leaders in Health Care Insurance, BUPA and AXA PPP have limited cover for acupuncture. A medical doctor, who has had acupuncture training, although not necessarily to the same degree level standard as British Acupuncture Council Members, is only able to provide this for BUPA and AXAPPP customers only. The other companies have variable provision for acupuncture so it is always advisable to check with your own provider regarding this. The following companies cover provision of acupuncture treatment by British Acupuncture Council Members following a GP or specialist referral and for a non pre-existing condition, although some companies do take a self referral:
Aviva, Cigna, CS Healthcare, Exeter Family Friendly, HSF, National Friendly, Medicash, PHSA, Pru Health, Simply Health, Universal Provident, Westfield, WHA, WHCA, WPA, This list is not exhaustive and there are constant updates, so please refer to your provider.

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