Unexplained Symptoms Eased By Acupuncture


Patients that have ‘unexplained symptoms’ can feel distressed and confused. These symptoms are real to them and they are caused a lot of anxiety because of them. Part of the anxiety comes form the GP being unable to help alleviate the problem and for the patient this can often be the last line of help that they can get and it hasn’t worked.

Studies have shown that the cost to the NHS in managing these unexplained symptoms is twice as much as managing a patient with a specific diagnosis.

The first trial of this kind in the NHS has taken place and it looked at the treatment of these unexplained symptoms using acupuncture in addition to their usual GP care. A research team from the Institute of Health Services Research, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, has carried out a randomised control trial and a linked interview study regarding 80 such patients from GP practices across London.

The British Journal of General Practice has published the results and they reveal that acupuncture had a significant and sustained benefit for these patients and consequently acupuncture could be safely added to the therapies used by practitioners when treating frequently attending patients with medically unexplained symptoms.

The acupuncture group registered a significantly improved overall score when compared with the control group. They also recorded improved wellbeing but did not show any change in GP and other clinical visits and the number of medications they were taking. Between 26 and 52 weeks the acupuncture group maintained their improvement and the control group, now receiving their acupuncture treatments, showed a 'catch up' improvement.

The participating patients had a variety of longstanding symptoms and disability including chronic pain, fatigue and emotional problems which affected their ability to work, socialise and carry out everyday tasks. A lack of a convincing diagnosis to explain their symptoms led to frustration, worry and low mood.

Participating patients reported that their acupuncture consultations became increasingly valuable. They appreciated the amount of time they had with each acupuncturist and the interactive and holistic nature of the sessions - there was a sense that the practitioners were listening to their concerns and, via therapy, doing something positive about them.

 

As a result, many patients were encouraged to take an active role in their treatment, resulting in cognitive and behavioural lifestyle changes, such as: a new self-awareness about what caused stress in their lives, and a subsequent ability to deal with stress more effectively; and taking their own initiatives based on advice from the acupuncturists about diet, exercise, relaxation and social activities.

Comments from participating patients included: "the energy is the main thing I have noticed. You know, yeah, it's marvellous! Where I was going out and cutting my grass, now I'm going out and cutting my neighbour's after because he's elderly"; "I had to reduce my medication. That's the big help actually, because medication was giving me more trouble...side effects"; and "It kind of boosts you, somehow or another."

Dr. Charlotte Paterson, who managed the randomised control trial and the longitudinal study of patients' experiences, commented: "Our research indicates that the addition of up to 12 five-element acupuncture consultations to the usual care experienced by the patients in the trial was feasible and acceptable and resulted in improved overall well-being that was sustained for up to a year.

"This is the first trial to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment to those with unexplained symptoms, and the next development will be to carry out a cost-effectiveness study with a longer follow-up period. While further studies are required, this particular study suggests that GPs may recommend a series of five-element acupuncture consultations to patients with unexplained symptoms as a safe and potentially effective intervention."

She added: "Such intervention could not only result in potential resource savings for the NHS, but would also improve the quality of life for a group of patients for whom traditional biomedicine has little in the way of effective diagnosis and treatment."

If you are frustrarted by the symptoms you are having and have exhausted the NHS why don't you give Orly Barziv call at the Angel Acupuncture Clinic and make an appointment.
 



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