Would you believe that one in five patients have symptoms that are unexplained by conventional medicine? Managing their treatment either conventionally or through alternative health is sometimes simply impossible. A research team has just done a study regarding 80 such patients, investigating how adding acupuncture might change the situation.
They found that acupuncture led to a significant and sustained benefit. The researchers believe that the ancient Chinese therapy could be safely added to therapies of those patients who frequently suffer medically unexplained symptoms (such as pain with no apparent cause). The study involved 80 adults (80% of whom were women, average age of 50) who had seen their family doctor at least eight times in the previous year. Nearly 60% had reported musculoskeletal health problems.
They were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a control group. Eight acupuncturists administered individual five-element acupuncture to the acupuncture group immediately, up to 12 sessions over 26 weeks. The same numbers of treatments were made available to the control group after 26 weeks.
Through questionnaires, the acupuncture group registered a significantly improved overall score compared with the control group. They also recorded improved well-being, but were continuing to see the doctor with the same frequency. 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.
These patients had a variety of chronic symptoms, including pain, fatigue and emotional problems, which affected their ability to work, socialize and carry out everyday tasks. Because doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, it led to a worsening situation with frustration, anxiety, and low mood.
The 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 behavioral 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.