Acupuncture, as with other physical therapies, needs to be tailored to the individual particularly taking into account the level of sensitisation. Higher levels of sensitisation are evidenced by high pain levels, longer duration, psychological distress, sleep disturbance, reduced mobility and function, wider area of pain, guarding with high muscle tone and hyperalgesia/ allodynia. Local treatment in these people can aggravate their symptoms so I start with only 1 or 2 points well distal to the site of their pain.
Most acupuncture treatment schedules involve weekly sessions x 6. More chronic conditions with high levels of sensitisation usually take several months for a significant response. Responses vary – some people notice immediate benefits others take several sessions. Generally and depending on the condition, I find 1 of 5 people have a dramatic improvement, 3 of 5 intermediate improvement and
1 of 5 no response.
Adverse effects are rare. There can be mild side effects such light headedness and sedation.
Most people find the process calming – scans do demonstrate a reduction
in limbic system activity with acupuncture. I can and often use low level LASER in certain situations.
Either concurrently, or following reduction in the persons pain, I recommend a tailored exercise programme with the aim of more complete return to function and overall self management.