6th June, 2011
Millions of patients with ‘unexplained symptoms’ could benefit from acupuncture on the NHS it is claimed. Just 12 sessions led to health improvements for patients taking part in the first study of its kind.
British researchers want GPs to prescribe acupuncture for the one in five patients whose symptoms remain ‘medically unexplained’ despite a battery of tests and investigations. They deny such patients can be seen as hypochondriacs and claim acupuncture could save the NHS money because it would cut unnecessary work including GP appointments, hospital stays and MRI scans.
The study involved 80 adults who had consulted their GP at least eight times in the past year with problems such as headaches, muscle pain, extreme tiredness, joint and back pain. Half were sent for acupuncture, up to 12 sessions in six months, while the remainder were given no extra treatment. Those having acupuncture had a ‘significant and sustained’ benefit in their symptoms, says a report in the British Journal of General Practice. Patients said the change in energy levels was ‘marvelous’. ….
…..Professor Gould of the Institute of Health Services Research, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter said “We don’t know how acupuncture is making a difference, but it seems to be something to do with the treatment rather than just a placebo or one-to-one care they’re getting’…..
….Researcher Dr Charlotte Paterson said a cost-effectiveness study would take place, but GPs could be confident that prescribing acupuncture was ‘safe and potentially effective’.
By Jenny Hope, Medical Correspondent.