Posts Tagged ‘pain’

July 17, 2017 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Counselling, Research

In recent research from The University of York, the influence of both acupuncture and counselling were studied to ascertain the difference they made to patients suffering with pain and depression when added to standard medical care. In the first trial 29 high quality clinical trials were used and around 18,000 patients were assessed. The patients were suffering from various types of pain from neck and lower back bain to head and knee pain

The research concluded that when acupuncture is added to standard care, patients experienced a significant reduction in the number of headaches and migraines and the severity of lower back and neck pain was also reduced.

With osteoarthritis of the knee the research showed the acupuncture reduced the pain and disability of the condition which lead to the need for less anti inflammatory medication.

The team also studied the influence of both acupuncture or counselling in comparison to standard medical care (anti depressants) for patients suffering with depression. 755 patients were studied and the researchers demonstrated that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression and that these benefits were largely sustained for up to 12 months after treatment.

Professor Hugh MacPherson who conducted the trial said:

“The front-line treatment for depression in primary care usually involves antidepressants; however, they do not work well for more than half of patients..In the largest study of its kind, we have now provided a solid evidence base to show that not only can acupuncture and counselling bring patients out of an episode of depression, but it can keep the condition at bay for up to a year on average.”


Further details of the trial can be found here:


April 8, 2013 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

In a recent pilot study of acupuncture for period pain, researchers in turkey compared the effects of acupuncture against NSAID’s (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) for a group of randomized women with primary dysmenorrhoea – more commonly known as period pain.

Although the study was small with a short follow up period, after one months treatment the pain levels were significantly reduced in both groups with average pain scores decreased by 52.2% in the medication group, and 69.5% in the acupuncture group. The researchers note their pilot study warrants further large scale trials to further clarify the effect of acupuncture for period pain

(Details of the study can be found here:

Period pain occurs more frequently in younger women than older women and is generally more severe the longer the duration of the period, both cigarette smoking and an earlier age of the period are associated with the condition. The symptoms of the pain are produced with the contractions of the uterus that occur during menstruation. Uterine contractions hamper the blood supply to the endometrium and these contractions promote the death of the endometrial tissue so that it can leave the body and fresh tissue can be produced in turn. In around 5-20% of women it’s estimated that dysmenorrhoea becomes so severe as to interfere with daily activities.

If you’re interested in acupuncture for period pain, The British Acupuncture Council produce a fact sheet explaining a little about the condition and some of the evidence for acupuncture’s ability to help. You can find that fact sheet here: acupuncture for period pain

I provide traditional acupuncture in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. If you’re curious about how acupuncture might help you, please feel free to ring me on 07717 515 013 or email on

November 6, 2012 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture

According to this BBC news report, one in seven of the UK population suffers from migraine with tension headaches also being particularly prevalent throughout the population. However current painkiller use could be masking and compounding the problem rather than alleviating it. If you’re a sufferer of headaches/migraine and are using painkillers more than 10-15 days of each month it could be that painkillers are now making your headaches worse not better. A consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery notes “this is a huge problem in the population. The figures in terms of the number of people who have medication overuse headache are one in 50, so that is approximately a million people who have headaches on a daily or near daily basis because they’re using painkillers.”

In light of this and as the BBC report, there are other treatments available that don’t produce the same side effects, such as acupuncture. Acupuncture offers sufferers a safe and easy way of easing their symptoms and as of October 2012 The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence recommend acupuncture as a preventative treatment for tension headache and migraine. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence base their recommendations on carefully considered evidence so members of the public can rest assured acupuncture has been studied and found to be of benefit for these conditions.

I have seen many patients for headache and migraine relief at my acupuncture clinics in Milton Keynes and Berkhamsted, and use acupuncture with great effect in significantly improving people’s quality of life. If you’re curious about what acupuncture can do for you, feel free to contact me by telephone or email.

The BBC report can be found here:


October 28, 2012 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

Researchers at Peninsula College of medicine and dentistry have conducted a systematic review for the effectiveness of acupuncture for plantar heel pain.

Five randomised controlled trials and three non-randomised comparative studies were included and the researchers note that high quality studies report significant benefits.
In one, acupuncture was associated with significant improvement in pain and function when combined with standard treatment (including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Other papers were of lower quality but suggest benefits from other acupuncture approaches.

The researchers concluded there is evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for heel pain that is comparable to the evidence available for conventionally used options and that acupuncture should therefore be considered in recommendations for the management of the condition.

Full details of the study can be found here:


For appointments at the berkhamsted acupuncture clinic you can call 07717 515 013

October 21, 2012 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

Dr Hugh Macpherson is a senior research fellow in the department of health sciences at the University of York. In this short audio interview he describes the conclusions of recent research which may be of interest to those patients living with some types of chronic pain. You can hear the interview and his conclusions here:

Dr Macpherson has previously published a very useful book describing some of the complexities and possible solutions in researching acupuncture, and more recently about the application of acupuncture in conjunction with conventional approaches to healthcare.

Details of his research projects and publications can be found here:


Sean is available for acupuncture Milton Keynes on 01908 307 075 or in Berkhamsted on 07717 515 013

September 20, 2012 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is a special health authority of the NHS that sets guidelines on the use of medicines, treatments, procedures and clinical practice for doctors and other healthcare practitioners. In 2009 NICE recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS as a cost-effective short-term management option for early, non-specific lower back pain. NICE have further extended their endorsement of acupuncture by recommending that acupuncture should be prescribed to patients in the prophylactic treatment of chronic tension-type headache and migraine when medication fails. The guidelines stipulate a course of 10 sessions over the course of 5-8 weeks.

In a month in which a meta-analysis of nearly 18,000 patients demonstrated acupuncture’s capacity to help those in chronic pain, there are now many reasons to consider acupuncture as a treatment for a number of health conditions.

You can read details of the new NICE announcement on The British Acupuncture Council’s website here: or read the guidelines directly on the NICE website here




September 14, 2012 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research


In a study published in the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine on September 10th, a systematic review analysing the data from 17,922 patients across 29 high quality randomised trials for acupuncture concluded that acupuncture confers clinically significant benefit for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, shoulder pain and headache.

The collaborators concluded that this landmark study provides the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is useful for these conditions, and they hope their findings will encourage clinicians to recommend acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment and use it to inform future clinical choices.

The study received widespread media coverage, and you can find the details of the study in The Journal of Chinese Medicine here:

I’ve seen many patients who’ve benefited from acupuncture for various kinds of pain. If you would like to discuss acupuncture treatment you can reach my milton keynes acupuncture clinic on 01908 307 075 or my mobile directly on 07717 515 013.

October 19, 2011 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

A group of researchers at the Institute of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine at Tongji Hospital in China have conducted a trial to investigate whether obtaining de qi (the dull heavy feeling of adequate nerve stimulation) is a necessary component of the treatment effect in a group of patients receiving acupuncture for period pain.

The patients were randomly assigned to a group of acupuncture with manual manipulation and an acupuncture group without manipulation. Pain intensity and pain duration were used as measures for evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of the acupuncture treatment. De-qi, the sensations a patient experienced during the acupuncture treatment, was scored on a 4-point scale by the subjects. In addition, the psychological factors, including belief in acupuncture, the level of nervousness, anxiety, and depression, were quantitatively assessed.

Complete data were obtained from 120 patients, 60 patients in each group. There were statistically significant differences in pain intensity and pain duration between the two groups. The number of De-qi acupoints and the average intensity of De-qi  were significantly higher in the manipulation group as compared with their non-manipulation counterparts. The correlation coefficients between De-qi and therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture were greater than those between psychological factors and therapeutic efficacy.

The researchers concluded that compared with the psychological factors, De-qi contributed more to the pain-relieving effect of acupuncture for period pain. Moreover, manual manipulation is a prerequisite for eliciting and enhancing the De-qi sensations, and De-qi is critical for achieving therapeutic effects.

Full report here:

For appointments at my Berkhamsted acupuncture practice please call 07717 515 013

For appointments at my Milton Keynes acupuncture clinic please call 01908 307 075


October 13, 2011 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

Acupuncture berkhamsted research update: Acupuncture affects men and women differently

Some of the best research and most knowledgeable insights in the field of acupuncture come from physiologist Thomas Lundeberg. It’s safe to say that he is perhaps the one scientist who has done the most research into the physiological mechanisms and effects of acupuncture, and his work is essential reading for anybody interested in a modern scientific interpretation of acupuncture as a treatment modality. I will be referring to many of his research papers on this blog and the one I’ll refer to today is a brief paper about gender differences among the acupuncture patient population.

It’s probably true that the majority of acupuncture clinics are populated by more women than men, and while there may be many socio psychological explanations for this, there appears to now be an increasing biological explanation too , and put simply it’s because women are in more pain, and possibly more biologically prone to it.

In this paper, Lundeberg et al refers to the fact that women are more likely to suffer from many painful syndromes such as fibromyalgia, temporomandibular dysfunction, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. While folk wisdom often posits women have better pain tolerance levels than men due to the frequency of menstrual pain and childbirth, it seems research is proving that women have lower pain tolerance levels not higher. In the paper there are references as to how women frequently score lower than men in pain tolerance scores, and how this is also borne out in animal studies too which show female rats being more sensitive to noxious stimulation than their male counterparts. There is also the fascinating observation that due to the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, many clinical trials for medications don’t use as many women as it’s simpler to study men. Trials using animals will also frequently use only male rats for the same reasons. The natural and startling conclusion of this is that many women may be using medicine’s that are actually not fully studied for their own gender. Some rather complex biological differences in what could account for the difference in pain processing between the sexes are discussed, and overall the paper is an interesting reminder that clinical trials have many individual variances to consider if their conclusions are to be reliable – Individuality being something clinical trials have great difficulty in being inclusive of. As I’ll comment frequently, it simply isn’t possible to study optimal, individualised acupuncture in the context of a randomised controlled trial, but understanding how we might get as close to it as possible, or at least perceiving the barriers to it  is a useful approach in understanding the virtues and limitations of how we gather information about acupuncture.

You can find Lundberg’s paper here:

For acupuncture in milton keynes, appointments can be booked with me on 01908 307 075

For acupuncture appointments at my Berkhamsted clinic please ring 07717 515 013


October 4, 2011 · by Sean Heneghan · Acupuncture, Research

Acupuncture berkhamsted research update: Cochrane review of acupuncture for labour pain

A new Cochrane review of acupuncture and acupressure for pain management in labour has come to the tentative conclusion that ‘acupuncture and acupressure may have a role with reducing pain, increasing satisfaction with pain management and reduced use of pharmacological management’ ; however they note as is so often the case, that there is a need for further research to confirm these findings.

In the review, 13 trials with data reporting on 1986 women were used. Nine trials reported on acupuncture and four trials reported on acupressure. Less intense pain was found from acupuncture compared with no intervention, one trial showed increased satisfaction with pain relief compared with placebo control; and reduced use of pharmacological analgesia was found in one trial of acupuncture compared with placebo (and compared with standard care).

Fewer instrumental deliveries from acupuncture were found compared with standard care, however there was significant heterogeneity. Pain intensity was reduced in the acupressure group compared with a placebo control and a combined control.

While the reviewers note there are potential areas of bias (quite possibly because acupuncture cannot be delivered ‘blind’) the preliminary evidence is encouraging.

Full details here:



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