What conditions can acupuncture be used to treat?

An ancient Chinese medicinal practice, acupuncture is now readily available in different venues across the world. While still the focus of a number of debates, acupuncture has shown promise in scientific studies investigating its effectiveness in remedying a variety of different conditions, although more research and information is still needed to completely proved the technique’s efficacy.

In this article we take a look at the techniques acupuncture can be potentially used to treat and manage.

Important points

Before looking at the different conditions acupuncture can purportedly treat, it is important to point out that many of these applications of the treatment are still subject to investigation. Many acupuncturists claim that they can treat a huge variety of conditions, however the evidence to support many of these claims is severely lacking. That being said, there is research to support acupuncture’s usefulness in other areas, but a lot more information will be needed before we can reach solid, scientific conclusions about the usefulness of acupuncture.

You should always speak to your doctor before pursuing acupunctural treatment, particularly if you are looking for treatment for a condition that requires medical treatment. In these instances it is important that you only use acupuncture as a complementary therapy rather than a replacement for ‘conventional’ treatment.

Acupuncture’s uses

Acupuncture can reportedly treat a variety of illnesses, and the conditions for which there is some evidence suggesting that this treatment can be particularly useful include post-surgical nausea, muscular spasms, myofascial pain, nausea, and others. Acupuncture has shown particular promise in treating chronic lower back pain, and the evidence in support of the practice in this area is strong enough that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends its use as part of the management of lower back pain.

Acupuncturists around the world have claimed that the treatment can be used for a range of other illnesses, however in comprehensive reviews assessing the evidence in support of these treatments, it was decided that these claims warrant much further investigations. These condition include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Addiction
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Induction of labour
  • Myopia (short sightedness)
  • Uremic pruritus
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shoulder pain
  • Schizophrenia
  • Glaucoma
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Autism

That’s not to say that acupuncture might not benefit sufferers of many of these conditions, but it is important to remember that there is little supporting evidence in these cases.

If you do pursue acupuncture as a treatment for any condition it is important that you do so in conjunction with your standard medical care. This is especially true for complex conditions like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other illnesses which require care medical management. There are also instances where acupuncture may not be suited to your condition, and a classic example is bleeding disorders which can cause excessive bleeding  after needle insertions.

« What is GERAC? Who practices acupuncture in the UK? »