Global Health Asia-Pacific July 2022 - Page 14

You Ask , They Answer

Q

: Is acupuncture an effective treatment for chronic pain and which types of pain can be treated with it ?

A

: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice in which thin needles are placed at specific points in the body ( acupoints ) to treat various medical conditions . Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the management of chronic pain conditions . In Singapore , it is primarily used as an adjunctive therapy to support / augment the therapeutic effects of conventional medical therapy to relieve painful conditions .
The most common painful conditions treated using acupuncture are musculoskeletal pain , joint pain , headache , and nerve pain .

Q

: How does acupuncture work and how long does it take for it to provide benefits ?

A

: Acupuncture involves stimulation of anatomical locations ( acupoints ) on the skin by a variety of techniques . These include acupuncture , electric acupuncture , and embed method ( herb seeds , needles , etc .). The most studied stimulation mechanism employs penetration of the skin by thin needles , which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation .
Everyone experiences and responds to the effects of acupuncture differently , and it ’ s quite difficult to predict the therapeutic response . In general , patients who respond positively to the treatment will often see improvement in their conditions after a few treatment sessions .

Q

: How does it compare with other treatments for chronic pain suchn as drugs ?

A

: Acupuncture is often used as an adjunctive therapy to support / augment the therapeutic effects of conventional medical therapy , rather than being a first line therapy . Acupuncture has helped manage the symptoms of many patients who have suboptimal or no-response to medications . However , there is quite a vast difference in the response to acupuncture treatment in individual patients .
Some patients may notice an immediate improvement , while others start to feel a change a couple of days after treatment . Some patients , who initially thought that they had no response , have noticed a delayed improvement about a week after treatment . Unfortunately , there are also patients who do not benefit from acupuncture .

Q

: Are there any risks associated with acupuncture ?

A

: The risks of acupuncture treatment are often related to the technique and site of administering acupuncture . Common side effects include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted . But skin infection is very uncommon as single-use , disposable needles are now the practice standard . Rare complications include injury to the tissues / internal organs ( e . g ., nerve irritation or puncturing of the lung or abdominal cavity ).
Dr Wilson Tay
Dr Wilson Tay is a pain specialist at Farrer Park Hospital in Singapore and a registered acupuncturist with the Singapore Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board .
12 JULY 2022 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com