New acupuncture advice sparks concern

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By Abigail Morrell

GUIDELINES on acupuncture set in 2009 have been reversed, sparking confusion and anger between those studying and practising acupuncture.

New advice published by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests acupuncture should not be used for managing lower back pain or sciatica.

NICE produce evidence based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners, aiming to develop quality standards and improve outcomes for people using the NHS.

But Katelyn Peterson of the Acupuncture Now Foundation said: “NICE has got the science wrong. It is a misinterpretation of scientific evidence.”

And Mel Koppelman, also from the Acupuncture Now Foundation said: “Acupuncture has been proven effective for a number of common, effective and debilitating conditions including migraines, neck and lower back pain, and hormonal issues.

“Currently only a small number of people who would benefit from acupuncture have access to it because there is a huge challenge in research – research into complex interventions such as acupuncture cannot be studied in the same way as research into pharmaceutical drugs.”

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine, where fine needles are inserted at certain sites inacupuncture the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

It is used in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK.

Mel added: “Acupuncture works on a number of different levels. The meridian system mapped by the Chinese thousands of years ago seems to correspond to electro-magnetic energy flow in the body, which seems to flow between small spaces between fascial planes.”

Fascia is a band of connective tissues, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, closes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

Mel said: “I do not suspect that the guidelines will have any negative effect on acupuncturists in private practices who maintain busy clinics because they are able to provide alternative, effective treatments where the conventional healthcare system fails to do so.”

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