Acupuncture being trialled in Australian emergency departments for acute pain relief



The other day an article was brought to my attention by Colette Day, an acupuncturist based in Essex, UK (via twitter, embrace the technology!). An old article from 2009, it was about a 3 year clinical trial using acupuncture in emergency departments of Australian hospitals to treat migraine, back pain and ankle pain.


What caught my eye (and warmed my heart) while reading the article was that these trials were employing traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to work in the emergency departments. In the NHS there are “pain clinics” where acupuncture treatment (usually five sessions) is offered, but there is definitely no such initiative in A&E. During my time at the Whittington Hospital pain clinic (in Archway, north London) most patients there were being treated for chronic back pain, but it would have been interesting to see patients being treated for acute injuries.


Another nice aspect of the Australian clinical trials is the fact they are specifically using traditional acupuncture based on the theories of Chinese medicine, as opposed to medical “dry needling” acupuncture. This takes it one step further than the needles-activating-nerve-endings school of thought and acknowledging that the same syndrome can derive from different patterns. As a traditional acupuncturist, I applaud this recognition.


We are now more than halfway through the trials, and it would definitely be interesting to see the results next year. Do you think this will happen soon in the UK?


Photo credit: Smabs Sputzer via flickr

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