Electro-acupuncture inspiration!

Last week I had the pleasant task of doing some ‘continuing professional development’ (as a member of the British Acupuncture Council I have to keep my skills up to date by doing at least 30 hours of training per year). This day’s training was on electro-acupuncture, in particular focusing on the really difficult to shift problems we can encounter with our patients.

Stephen Lee, the acupuncturist giving the training has over 25 years experience of using electro-acupuncture on his patients and had some really interesting results to share. We covered techniques to help with persistent foot pain (sometimes known as ‘policeman’s heel’), speeding up the healing of injured tendons (these can take months and months to heal, but Stephen has seen a significant speeding up of recovery using electro) and how to keep the pain of hip osteoarthritis at bay until patients can get a hip replacement.

The day gave me ideas on how to tackle two patient problems that are not responding as well as I would like. One of these is foot numbness and the other is arthritis in the fingers causing significant bony changes and persistent pain. With the foot numbness I am waiting for the patient to have her MRI so I can confirm which discs in her back are pressing on the nerve going down to her foot. Then I can use the electro-acupuncture across those discs to see if we can get more feeling down there.

As far as the arthritic fingers are concerned, I have always told patients I can help reduce the pain but there is nothing I can do about the bony changes…but perhaps this isn’t true. Stephen as been working with a lady with arthritic fingers on whom he has had remarkable results (admittedly he has been treating her for quite a number of years, and has consistently given her 6 weekly treatments). He has noticed that over the last 4/5 years her knuckles have returned to a more normal configuration….well I would love to be able to achieve an outcome like that, more realistically if I can give this particular lady 6 weeks at a time with less pain I will be happy!

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