Pain

In Acupuncture, any pain is really just a distress signal saying that something is wrong. Pain can be acute or chronic. After acute pain goes away, a person can go on with life as usual. Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away.

Any pain can be treated with acupuncture. We commonly treat the following conditions:
• Back pain
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Chronic pain
• Facial pain
• Fibromyalgia
• Frozen shoulder
• Headaches
• Migraines
• Neck pain
• Neuropathic pain
• Osteoarthritis
• Post-operative pain
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Sciatica
• Tennis elbow
For a full list of conditions acupuncture can treat please see the acupuncture page


Back Pain


Back pain can affect anyone at any age and most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. It is the UK's leading cause of disability, and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence. 

Back pain currently costs the NHS and community care services more than £1 billion each year. Most lower back pain is caused not by serious damage or disease, but by sprains, muscle strains, minor injuries, or a pinched or irritated nerve. It can also occur during pregnancy, or because of stress, a viral infection or a kidney infection.

Acupuncture can help back pain by:

• providing pain relief - by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).
• reducing inflammation - by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).
• improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
• reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).
• providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).
• improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).

In the video below two men talk about their experiences of using traditional acupuncture to help back pain.



Testimonials

Back Pain

Patient 1
I have always had pain in my back.

Before the acupuncture treatment I could not sit down for 10 seconds. I can now sit down for a long time. I was able to sit down on a 4 hour flight.

I hit 120 golf balls last week and not even a twinge! I have never been able to do that before. I am a completely different person.

I am sleeping better too.

I’ve never felt this good.
I feel 100% better.
You have worked wonders on me.

I feel more relaxed. Its amazing, I’m not worrying anymore, nothing bothers me anymore.

I feel mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually better.

I used to be a sceptic, I did all my research first.

It is the best money I have ever spent. I wish I had acupuncture earlier.
J.G.


Patient 2
"I came to see Anita because I had been suffering from low back pain for the last few years. After the first treatment my back felt different, not so tight and rigid and less painful. I was amazed at how quickly I could feel a difference. I continued with a course of treatments and I am now pain free. I feel that I have got my life back and I can finally do whatever I want to do. Thank you, Anita."
S.J.



Headaches

Headache is one of the most frequent reasons for medical consultations, in both general practice and neurology clinics. These occur in up to around 80% of the UK adult population, and are more prevalent in women (65% of cases in one survey). Symptoms begin before the age of 10 years in 15% of people with chronic tension-type headache, and prevalence declines with age. The origin of tension-type headache is multifactorial, but the pathogenesis is still unclear; there is a family history of some form of headache in 40% of people with chronic tension-type headache.

Tension-type headache is the term used for infrequent and frequent episodic, as well as chronic, tension-type headaches. This type of headache is primary (i.e. the headache itself is the disorder, rather than secondary to another condition). Tension-type headaches are characterised by pain that is typically mild or moderate in intensity, bilateral, and pressing or tightening in quality, but does not worsen with physical activity. There may be accompanying photophobia or phonophobia, but no nausea. The headaches are daily or very frequent, and last from minutes to days. 

The aim of conventional treatment is to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of headache, with minimal adverse effects from treatment. Prescribed and over-the-counter medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are taken to alleviate headaches.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress.

Acupuncture may help to relieve tension-type headache by:
• increasing endorphins and neuropeptide Y levels, which can help to combat negative affective states;
• stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord;
• reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors;
• increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.


Migraines

Migraine is a primary headache disorder manifesting as recurring attacks, usually lasting for 4 to 72 hours and involving pain of moderate to severe intensity (IHS 2004).

Typical characteristics of the headache are unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate or severe intensity, and aggravation by routine physical activity. Sufferers may also experience auras, photophobia, phonophobia, nausea and vomiting. Migraine is a common disorder; a UK follow-up study found the migraine incidence rate to be 3.69 cases per 1,000 person-years, and to be around 2.5 times higher in women than men.

Many people with migraine can be adequately treated when the attacks occur, but some need prophylactic interventions, as their attacks are either too frequent or are insufficiently controlled in this way. Several drugs, such as beta-blockers, amitriptyline or sodium valproate, are used in the prophylaxis of migraine in an attempt to reduce attack frequency, but all these drugs are associated with adverse effects (DTB 1998).
Migraine is thought to begin as an electrical phenomenon in the cerebrum that then affects blood vessels, biochemistry, and causes neurogenic inflammation.

Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:
• Providing pain relief - by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurochumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Zhao 2008, Zijlstra 2003, Pomeranz, 1987)
• Reducing inflammation - by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
• Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression (an electrical wave in the brain associated with migraine) and plasma  levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P (both implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine.
• Modulating extracranial and intracranial blood flow.
• Affecting serotonin (5-hydroxytriptamine) levels in the brain. (Serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines; 5-HT agonists (triptans) are used against acute attacks.)

Testimonials

"After many years of suffering from stress and migraines I finally decided it was time to try acupuncture. I was a little afraid about going and scared of needles too! I found Anita to be patient, easy to talk to, reassuring, and very calming. The whole experience was very relaxing and pain free. I have seen a radical drop in my stress levels, and my migraines have disappeared. I also found other areas in my life that have improved too, I am sleeping much better and feel happier and revived."
P.S.



Neck Pain


Neck pain is one of the three most frequently reported complaints of the musculoskeletal system. Twenty-six to 71% of the adult population can recall experiencing an episode of neck pain or stiffness in their lifetime. Neck pain is usually a benign and self-limited condition, but can be disabling to varying degrees. As such, it has a large impact on healthcare expenditure, due to visits to healthcare professionals, and sick leave, disability and the related loss of productivity.

Neck pain can be associated with symptoms that radiate to the arms or head, and may involve one or several neurovascular and musculoskeletal structures such as nerves, nerve roots, intervertebral joints, discs, bones, muscle and ligaments.

Conventional management includes advice to stay active and continue daily activities; exercise therapy; analgesics (e.g. paracetamol, NSAIDs, an opioid); muscle relaxants; corticosteroid spinal injections; and referral for consideration of surgery. However, there is a lack of strong evidence of effectiveness for most of these interventions.

Acupuncture can help relieve neck pain by:
• stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord;
• reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors;
• improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.


Sciatica

Sciatica, more accurately termed lumbar radiculopathy, is a syndrome involving nerve root impingement and/or inflammation that has progressed enough to cause neurological symptoms (e.g. pain, numbness, paraesthesia) in the areas that are supplied by the affected nerve root(s). Posterior sciatica involves pain that radiates along the posterior thigh and the posterolateral aspect of the leg, and is due to an S1 or L5 radiculopathy.

When caused by S1 irritation, the pain may radiate to the lateral aspect of the foot, while pain due to L5 radiculopathy may radiate to the dorsum of the foot and to the large toe. Anterior sciatica involves pain that radiates along the anterior aspect of the thigh into the anterior leg, and is due to L4 or L3 radiculopathy. Pain due to L2 radiculopathy is antero-medial in the thigh, and pain in the groin usually arises from an L1 lesion. Sciatica is almost invariably accompanied or preceded by back pain, and mobility is often affected. Indicators for sciatica include unilateral leg pain that is greater than low back pain; pain radiating to the foot or toes, numbness and paraesthesia; increased pain on straight leg raising, and neurological symptoms limited to one nerve root.

The prevalence of lumbar radiculopathy is around 3% to 5%, and equally common in men and women, and an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain have sciatica. The annual prevalence of disc related sciatica in the general population is estimated at 2.2%. In most patients, the prognosis is good, but up to 30% will have pain for one year or longer.

Conventional management includes advice to stay active and continue daily activities; exercise therapy; analgesics (e.g. paracetamol, NSAIDs, an opioid); muscle relaxants; corticosteroid spinal injections; and referral for consideration of surgery. However, there is a lack of strong evidence of effectiveness for most of these interventions.

Acupuncture can help relieve back pain and sciatica by:
• stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
• reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
• improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling.
• causing a transient change in sciatic nerve blood flow, including circulation to the cauda equine and nerve root. This response is eliminated or attenuated by administration of atropine, indicating that it occurs mainly via cholinergic nerves.
• influencing the neurotrophic factor signalling system, which is important in neuropathic pain.
• increasing levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, which can help reduce pain and speed nerve repair.
• improving the conductive parameters of the sciatic nerve.
• promoting regeneration of the sciatic nerve.