I was pleased to see that NICE (National Institute for Care and Health Excellence) has recommended that GPs should not prescribe opioids for chronic pain, but instead consider alternatives such as acupuncture.  There’s a piece in The Telegraph about the issue: Chronic pain should be treated with acupuncture rather than opiates, new guidance suggests.  The NICE report cited 27 studies showing acupuncture reduced pain and improved quality of life in as little as three months compared with usual care or sham acupuncture. NICE also currently recommends acupuncture for the treatment of tension-type headaches and migraines.

Traditional Chinese Medicine sources say acupuncture works by directing the flow of Qi (or energy) to trigger the body’s healing response, resulting in physical, emotional and mental balance (British Acupuncture Council). Western medical research says acupuncture stimulates the body to produce the pain and stress-relieving hormones (endorphins and oxytocin). It can also aid sleep through the stimulation of melatonin, plus bring about feelings of wellbeing through the production of serotonin. Furthermore, it can stimulate nerve cells to block out pain signals (Acupuncture Association of Physical Therapists).

On the whole, I suggest booking a course of six acupuncture treatments in relatively quick sucession (once a week). Usually, the clients see an improvement by the third session.